Frequently Asked Questions

Harrow School Online staff answers Frequently Asked Questions from prospective pupils and their parents.

General

What is Harrow School Online?

Harrow School Online is a new kind of school founded on the educational philosophy, practices and traditions of Harrow School, and delivered by Pearson to pupils all over the world through an online platform. It is a full-time, coeducational school which will initially prepare pupils in the Sixth Form (age 16 onwards) for international A level examinations, application to university and employment. Combining rigorous academic study (closely guided by specially trained teachers and tutors versed in the British educational system) with co-curricular enrichment, Harrow School Online offers the flexibility of modern ‘anywhere, anytime’ learning. It has been developed through a collaboration between Harrow School (via its trading subsidiary, Harrow School Enterprises) and Pearson, whose mission is to help people make progress in their lives through learning. Over time, the school plans to expand its provision to include younger age groups.

What is Harrow School?

Harrow School is a full-boarding school in the UK for boys aged 13-18. It was founded in 1572 under a Royal Charter granted by Queen Elizabeth I. In 2019 at A-level, approximately one third of grades achieved an A*, while 49% of Pre-U results were D1 or D2 (the highest possible grades). Last year’s leavers will be taking up places at seven of the world’s top 10 universities including Oxford, Cambridge, Stanford and Harvard, with boys also taking up places at six of the eight Ivy League schools including Yale, Princeton and Columbia.

Famous alumni (Old Harrovians) include statesmen such as former British prime minister Sir Winston Churchill, the first prime minister of India Jawaharlal Nehru and King Hussein of Jordan; scientists such as Lord Rayleigh, the physicist and Nobel prize-winner, and Fox Talbot, an early pioneer of photography; writers including the poet Lord Byron, the novelist Anthony Trollope and the playwright Richard Brinsley Sheridan; and 19 winners of the Victoria Cross, the highest award available to the armed forces for bravery in action with the enemy. 

More recently, many pupils have gone on to distinguished careers in business, the law, medicine, the armed forces, the arts and the media. These include the actor Benedict Cumberbatch CBE, the musician James Blunt and the film director Richard Curtis CBE; the astronaut Dr Nicholas Patrick and the nature documentary producer Alastair Fothergill; the rugby player Maro Itoje, and cricketers Gary Ballance and Nick Compton; Lord Butler, former Head of the UK’s Civil Service, and Lord Guthrie of Cragiebank, former British Army chief; and Julian Metcalfe OBE, founder of food retailers including Pret, and record producer Chris Blackwell, founder of Island Records.

For more information, visit harrowschool.org.uk.  

What is Pearson?

Pearson has expertise in educational courseware and assessment, and a range of teaching and learning services powered by technology. As the world’s learning company, Pearson’s mission is to help people make progress in their lives through learning. For more, visit pearson.com.  

How is Harrow School Online governed and managed?

Harrow School Online has a Board of six members: three from Harrow School (the Head Master, the Bursar and a Governor) and three from Pearson. Other senior members of staff at Harrow School provide oversight of teacher recruitment, induction and training, and the design of Harrow School Online lessons. See here for more information about ownership of Harrow School Online.

Is Harrow School Online legally allowed to operate in every country around the world?

Harrow School Online complies with all UK laws. However, we advise prospective parents to check their particular circumstances with their local authorities.

How will Harrow School Online be assessed by external regulators and inspectors? 

Online schooling is currently outside the remit of the UK’s Department of Education’s approved inspectorate for independent schools, the Independent Schools Inspectorate (ISI). However, Harrow School Online complies with ISI guidelines.  

Academics

What subjects can I study at Harrow School Online?

Currently, Harrow School Online offers Pearson Edexcel International AS and A levels in Chemistry, Physics, Mathematics, Further Mathematics and Economics.

What co-curricular activities can I do at Harrow School Online? 

Beyond their core academic work, Online Harrovians engage in activities that develop their leadership skills, perfect their English communication, build their relationships, and allow them to serve their global and local communities. The co-curriculum encompasses sports, the arts, community service and academic enrichment. The activities offered include a chess club, debating society and pupil literary magazine – all of which take place online - as well as individually scheduled, offline sport and charitable pursuits. By engaging in this programme, Online Harrovians work towards the completion of a co-curricular award. This encourages them to look beyond the classroom and supports their all-round education.  

Who will be my teachers at Harrow School Online?

The teachers at Harrow School Online have Qualified Teaching Status (QTS) and are versed in the British curriculum. Harrow School Online uses the same rigorous guidelines for recruiting teachers as for recruiting teachers for Harrow School and senior academic staff at Harrow School are involved in the recruitment process. All Harrow School Online teachers have part of their induction programme provided by Harrow School and share in some of the ongoing professional development opportunities available to teachers at Harrow School in the UK, to ensure a high quality of teaching.

Admissions

Is Harrow School Online for me?

Harrow School Online is for girls and boys worldwide aged 16 and over, who have strong English skills and who are looking for a prestigious, high-quality international education that can fit around their lifestyle. While anyone who has strong English skills and wishes to pursue their international A Levels at a premium school can apply, Harrow School Online could work particularly well for the following kinds of pupils:  

  • Pupils who are expatriates and who move regularly but want a consistent education for their international A levels;

  • Pupils who are unable to attend a school which is in the UK or which offers a British-style curriculum, because of where they live;

  • Pupils with extensive sporting, performing or other commitments outside of school, who struggle to balance these with a traditional school schedule and need more flexibility in the study times; and 

  • Pupils who struggle to perform to their highest level in a standard classroom environment and who would benefit from a more individualised setting.

All Online Harrovians need to be self-disciplined, so that they can take charge of their daily schedules, complete all required assignments and prepare appropriately for class projects and examinations.

What are Harrow School Online’s term dates?

Harrow School Online operates on the British academic year. The first cohort of pupils will begin in September 2020, with the academic year running until July of 2021, with the typical term breaks for Christmas and Easter. 

What is the application process for Harrow School Online?

Step 1: Complete the application form on this website. 

Step 2: Have a 15 minute online interview with our Admissions Executive to discuss your extra-curricular activities.

Step 3: Complete a one hour-long, online entrance test in each subject that you wish to study at Harrow School Online. 

Step 4: Have a one-hour interview with our Admissions team. 

Step 5: Have a short interview with a member of the senior academic team, most likely our Principal. 

Step 6: If you successfully pass each of the above steps, you will be offered a place at Harrow School Online. Congratulations! (If you show strong potential, but your English proficiency level needs improvement, you may be offered a place that is conditional on achieving that improvement before term starts.)

How academic do I have to be to apply to Harrow School Online? 

Harrow School Online has an uncompromising focus on academic performance. The grades expected of applicants are similar to those expected of applicants to Harrow School’s Sixth Form. In order to be admitted to Harrow School Online, you must be able to demonstrate:

  • Academic success: For applicants who have taken GCSEs or International GCSEs, grades of 7-8-9 or A-A* in seven to eight subjects are required. All applicants will also be required to take subject-specific entrance tests online;

  • Suitability for online study: Applicants are required to possess skills in self-motivation and self-management;

  • A good behavioural record; and

  • The potential for leadership.

What level of English proficiency is required?

To benefit fully from Harrow School Online, applicants who do not speak English as their mother tongue or first language will need to demonstrate the identified minimum levels of English Language proficiency of 42 on the Global Scale of English (via the PTE-A test). Equivalent to 5.5 on IELTS, 46 on TOEFL, or 41 (level CEFR B2) on the UKiset.

When do applications open and close? Is there a cut-off date for enrolling for September 2020?

Applications will be open from late September 2019. There is currently no cut-off date, so applicants can apply right up until September 2020.

Is there an age restriction for applicants?

We expect most applicants to be 16 years old by the time they start at Harrow School Online. However, applications from younger applicants who are particularly gifted and meet Harrow School Online’s entrance requirements will be considered.

Is there an upper age limit?

For the first cohort of Online Harrovians in 2020, the upper age limit is 18. This may be reviewed on a case-by-case basis.

Can I apply mid-A levels or start mid-term/year?

For September 2020, Harrow School Online will only enroll pupils who have not yet taken their international AS levels. This may change in the future, however, and applicants applying after the start of their Sixth Form will be individually assessed.  

Can you apply to Harrow School Online if you are in the UK?

Harrow School Online teaches the Pearson Edexcel International AS and A Levels, and examinations for these qualifications cannot be taken in the UK.

Are you able to accommodate applicants with special educational needs and/or disabilities (SEND)?

By its nature, online schooling can provide a welcoming environment for pupils with SEND, as pupils study from the comfort of their own home with fewer distractions than a traditional classroom. All pupils who meet the admissions criteria, including those who have autism spectrum disorder (ASD) or other special educational needs and disabilities are warmly welcomed.  Harrow School Online recognises its duty to make reasonable adjustments for those pupils who have SEND or additional learning needs, and is committed to understanding and meeting those needs during their time at Harrow School Online. 

I live in China. Is the application process the same?

No. If you live in Greater China, please contact our exclusive representative, WIN Education. For further information, please see If You Live in China.

The Pupil Experience

What does a typical day at Harrow School Online look like?

Every school day (Monday-Friday), Online Harrovians work from their homes to take part in a mixture of:

  • live online lessons alongside a teacher and other pupils;

  • video masterclass segments;

  • 1:1 meetings with their teachers;

  • assembly;

  • House meetings; and 

  • online tutorials, which they can do at their leisure.

How long does a lesson last?

45 minutes.

For one subject, how many classes are there per week?

Each subject consists of five self-study lessons and two live lessons per week. 

How many hours each week would an Online Harrovian attend Harrow School Online?

Each lesson is 45-minutes long, which adds up to 5 ¼ hours per A level per week. In addition, Online Harrovians have homework, tutorials and extracurricular activities. Online Harrovians are therefore expected to devote at least 30 hours per week to their Harrow School Online activities. 

Is it possible to fit two years of study at Harrow School Online into one year?

In order to deliver a full and well-rounded education, Harrow School Online does not allow this. All Online Harrovians take International AS levels at the end of their first year, and International A levels at the end of their second.

How do the live lessons work in different time zones?

Live lessons are scheduled to be as convenient as possible for Online Harrovians. While one might be having a live lesson in the morning, it could be the afternoon for another. We encourage Online Harrovians from different countries to study together in the same classes, to maximise the opportunities for learning and interacting in a truly international environment.

Are all the classes interactive or are they lecture-style?

Just like an offline classroom, an online classroom can take many forms, depending on the needs of the lesson. Harrow School Online’s platform allows for a high degree of interactivity, using voice, chat, polling and other functionality. Online Harrovians can be split into groups and pairs on the platform - whatever is appropriate to the lesson.

What learning resources are available to Online Harrovians? 

The self-study courses on the Harrow School Online platform are an incredible resource and the mainstay of an Online Harrovian’s learning experience. They include interactive coursebooks, with self-paced content, video tutorials and regular learning checks. Online Harrovians are also issued Pearson textbooks for each of the subjects that they take at International A Level, to be used as a supplementary resource for their studies.

Does Harrow School Online supply textbooks?

 Yes. Online Harrovians are issued Pearson textbooks for each of the subjects that they take at International A Level, to be used as a supplementary resource for their online courses.

How can you support pupils with a SEND?

Harrow School Online is an inclusive school which is committed to equal opportunities for all. All pupils who meet the admissions criteria, including those who have special educational needs and disabilities (SEND) are warmly welcome. Harrow School Online recognises its duty to make reasonable adjustments for those pupils who have SEND or additional learning needs, and is committed to understanding and meeting those needs during their time at Harrow School Online. By its nature, online schooling can provide a welcoming environment for pupils with SEND, as pupils study from the comfort of their own home with fewer distractions than a traditional classroom. Self-study lessons can be reviewed at a time and pace determined by the pupil, and all live lessons are recorded and can be watched back if required. Harrow School Online’s Success Coaches are SEND specialists who can provide support to pupils with a wide range of needs. The nature of the pupils’ provision will be tailored by their particular needs, and will be determined in consultation with the pupil and their parents. Provision may include individual lessons, group lessons or accommodations made by teachers in the live lessons. 

How does Harrow School Online care for Online Harrovians pastorally? 

When a pupil joins Harrow School Online, they are enrolled into a virtual House, in a practice similar to the baording house system at Harrow School. Each House is led by a House Master or Mistress and supported by coaches and tutors. The House Master and coaches together attend to their pupils’ pastoral care and future path planning, while the tutors meet online bi-weekly with each Online Harrovian, to give ongoing academic guidance. Weekly online House meetings provide a forum for announcements, celebrations and the observance of traditions. As part of its pastoral care provision, Harrow School Online supports any Online Harrovian feeling isolated, struggling with personal issues, or demonstrating any other lack of well-being, in consultation with the pupil’s family.

Are Online Harrovians put in classes with other pupils local to them, so that they can meet them socially?

Harrow School Online encourages Online Harrovians from different countries to study together in the same classes, to maximise the opportunities for learning and interacting in a truly international environment. Harrow School Online is designed in a way that enables Online Harrovians to get to know all other pupils in their year group, be they physically nearby or further away. 

Will Online Harrovians have the opportunity to visit Harrow School?

Yes. All Online Harrovians are invited to attend a residential summer course at Harrow School during their time at Harrow School Online, for an extra fee. Attendance is optional. 

 

Technology and Platform

What equipment and software will Online Harrovians require?

To access Harrow School Online’s rich resources and to connect with teachers and peers, each Online Harrovian must have a computer with a modern operating system (Windows 10 or later, or Mac OS 10.7 or later) and browser (Google Chrome, Mozilla Firefox, Internet Explorer 11 or newer, Microsoft Edge, or Safari). A broadband internet connection is also essential. 

Does Harrow School Online offer technical support? 

Harrow School Online maintains a multilingual call centre for technical support, as well as a comprehensive online library of anytime-access help documents and videos for navigation or technical queries.

How will teachers monitor the academic progress of Online Harrovians?

As Online Harrovians work through their self-study lessons, their teachers monitor their progress and remain in frequent contact, either to accelerate their learning or to remediate difficulties. A wealth of data is collected as the pupils complete exercises and engage with the courseware, giving their teachers a real insight into their learning. Harrow School Online teachers also conduct regular synchronous sessions, in which pupils gather online in real-time for targeted instruction. These lessons are a chance for teachers to test their pupils’ understanding of the self-study material and to bridge any gaps. In addition, Online Harrovians have fortnightly individual tutorials with an academic tutor, to discuss their overall academic progress, and to set and monitor goals.

How do parents of Online Harrovians keep up to date with their children’s learning progress?

At Harrow School Online, the parents of Online Harrovians play a key role and there is frequent interaction between them and their children’s teachers. All parents of Online Harrovians have their own read-only access to the Harrow School Online platform, allowing them to monitor their children’s progress in real time. Parents can see how much time their children are spending on each course, as well as their progression through the learning materials. Formal parents’ meetings also enable parents to discuss their children’s progress with their teachers. 

What are the benefits of online learning?

An online school of high calibre that delivers the British curriculum typically performs highly in two areas that parents priortise when choosing a school for their children: the quality of its education, and the university and career prospects of its pupils. Online schooling has a number of other unique benefits such as: 

  • Convenience and flexibility: Online courses allow pupils to plan study time around the rest of their day, teaching them how to balance study and work with family and social commitments.

  • The promotion of self-discipline: By taking online classes, pupils develop stronger self-discipline skills, which often translate to other areas of their life.

  • Accessibility: The mix of delivery mediums (e.g. visual, auditory) in an online school caters to different learning types. 

  • Visibility for parents: As the majority of pupils attend online lessons from home, parents have unprecedented visibility into their children’s education. 

Examinations and University

How are Online Harrovians assessed? 

Online Harrovians sit their Pearson Edexcel International A Level examinations in approved Pearson Edexcel test centres, just like a pupil in a traditional school.

Where do I take my examinations?

Harrow School Online has a partnership with the British Council enabling all of our pupils to take their Pearson Edexcel International AS and A Level examinations in British Council exam centres. Please contact our Admissions team for more information about where these centres are.

Are mock examinations done at home?

Yes.

How will Harrow School Online prepare Online Harrovians for university and employment?

Harrow School Online prepares Online Harrovians for Pearson Edexcel International A Level qualifications, which are recognised and accepted by universities worldwide. From their first day at Harrow School Online, Online Harrovians are also coached and counseled by school staff on university selection and career planning. This critical role is predominantly fulfilled by the each pupil's Success Coach, who helps develop academic, personal and social skills through fortnightly one-to-one coaching sessions and small group workshops. In addition to the International A Level examinations, Online Harrovians may wish to sit the College Board Advanced Placement and/or SAT and ACT examinations. Each pupil's schedule will include support for college and test preparation from House Masters, House Tutors and online resources. 

What are the academic expectations for Online Harrovians?

Harrow School Online aims to ensure that all Online Harrovians perform to their full potential in their International A Level examinations, so that they gain admission to top international universities and go on to thrive in their careers. On the understanding that success is driven by high expectations, Harrow School Online seeks to match the success of Online Harrovians with the performance of pupils at Harrow School.  In 2019, Harrow School’s leavers took up places at seven of the world’s top 10 universities including Oxford, Cambridge, Stanford and Harvard, with boys also taking up places at six of the eight Ivy League schools including Yale, Princeton and Columbia.

Will applications from Online Harrovians be considered by international universities? 

Yes. Harrow School Online prepares Online Harrovians for Pearson Edexcel International A Level qualifications, which are recognised and accepted by universities worldwide. For extra verification, universities are already confirming that they will consider applicants from Harrow School Online in the same way as any other applicant.

Will Online Harrovians be able to apply to Oxbridge and other top universities?

Yes. Just like any other International A Level pupil, Online Harrovians will be able to apply to Oxbridge - as well as all the other Russell Group universities in the UK. Internationally, the following top universities will also accept their applications:

  • In the US: Yale, Columbia, Cornell, Dartmouth College, Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) and California Institute of Technology (Caltech).

  • In Australia: All Group of 8 universities (Australian National, Monash, Melbourne, New South Wales, Queensland, Sydney, Western Australia and Adelaide).

  • In Canada: Toronto, British Columbia and McGill.

  • In Asia: Hong Kong, Tokyo, Chinese University of Science and Technology and the National University of Singapore.

Fees and Finances

When is payment of the tuition fees due?

All outstanding fees for a term must be paid in full before the start of the term.

Can I pay all the tuition fees for a full year in advance?

Yes.

Does the tuition fee include the entrance costs for my examinations?

Yes. The tuition fee covers the entrance costs for all of your International AS and A Level examinations.

Do you offer any academic scholarships? 

About 10% of Online Harrovians will be offered an Academic Scholarship each year of up to 25% of the annual tuition fee. These individuals will be selected at the end of June of the incoming year, based on their application form and their relative performance against their cohort during the admissions process. They will need to perform in the top 25% of their cohort, in academic terms, in order to maintain their scholarship into year two.

If I were to start at Harrow School Online but then not enjoy it, would I get a full refund?

All of our teaching staff are dedicated to ensuring that you have an enjoyable, and academically successful, time at Harrow School Online. But if you do decide that you want to change to a different school, then you must give one term’s notice. So if, for example, you leave in October, you would pay for the first (Autumn) term in full, but for no other terms.