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Principal, Heather Rhodes joins Gateway 97.8’s Drivetime with Ros to discuss online education now, and in the future

Elaine Tibbatts

The Covid-19 pandemic has forced the country to embrace online learning. And, as we progressed through 2020; schools, colleges and universities had to quickly make provisions to continue to educate the nation’s children and young people.

Harrow School Online Principal, Heather Rhodes, joined Gateway 97.8’s Drivetime with Ros to discuss her views on how online education can be just as effective as classroom-based teaching – as long as it’s planned appropriately.

There is no doubt that the pandemic has placed an additional strain on schools across the country and it has been difficult for some to make the transition to online learning.

School leaders – many of whom have had little to no experience of online learning and with very little guidance – have had to restructure their educational programmes to make the most of the online environment and take themselves and their staff on a very steep learning curve, because what works well in a physical classroom doesn’t always translate well into an online environment

The formation of Harrow School Online predates the pandemic and our educational programmes are specifically designed to make the most of the innate benefits of online learning.

Done well, online learning can provide a complete school experience with a vast array of benefits. The flexibility of self-paced learning, coupled with small class sizes, targeted instruction and feedback, and the potential to learn alongside peers from across the globe are just the tip of the iceberg.  

We can see the progress in our students who benefit from the structured educational programme and individual support alongside a range of extracurricular clubs and societies that foster friendships and promote leadership and personal fulfilment.

But what does it mean for the future of education?

Whilst there are a whole host of challenges for schools, parents/carers and learners to address in the short-term, in the long-term, the impact of the pandemic on education could bring with it some positives.

Heather discusses her view that more teachers will leave this period of lockdown learning with greater confidence using technology and will take what has worked well and incorporate this into a smart, blended approach to provision, with data-informed targeting and teaching to allow more individualised learning pathways for our learners

Students too may come away having discovered that that absence of physical classroom distractions and the ability to learn at a pace that suits them has benefited their learning.

As we see an uptake in enquiries and applications for online provision, it is clear that students’ choices are broadening as they find an approach that works for them and allows them to thrive in their education. This can only be a positive thing.

Hear more on this here