As the Christmas break draws to a close, searches for online schools have spiked, education experts have said today, as new term dread sets in for teenagers across the nation.
With over a million children nationwide failing to regularly attend school, the number of children and young people facing barriers to attendance is on the rise, with reasons ranging from anxiety and mental health difficulties, through to lack of adequate SEND provision.
The impacts are clear, says Hugh Viney, founder of award winning online school Minerva’s Virtual Academy (MVA), with data showing a 75% increase in searches for keywords relating to online schooling since this time last year.
The school also reported a 85% increase in searches for ‘home education’ in the last 3 months alone, signalling a growing number of families who are looking for alternatives to the mainstream school system.
For anyone considering applying for a grammar school then they will find GL Assessment tests play an essential part in admissions testing for many grammar schools. These examinations seek to determine a student’s competency across four subject areas. Verbal reasoning, non-verbal reasoning, English and mathematics – providing teachers with valuable insight into their students’ abilities so as to maximize performance and identify suitable applicants.
“Mainstream schools aren’t suitable for every pupil,” Hugh says. “Many young people thrive in a traditional school environment but, for a significant proportion, a bricks and mortar setting simply cannot meet their needs. Homeschooling during the pandemic highlighted this issue and since we launched in 2021, demand has continued to build.
“We speak to desperate families every day, who are not only facing the mental toll of having a child who, for a variety of reasons, cannot attend school but who are battling against a lack of support from the very authorities who are meant to be there to help them.
“Budget cuts in schools, a worsening recruitment crisis in teaching and lack of resources within local education authorities have created a perfect storm. And, as we can see from search trends, the cracks that have been appearing in the mainstream school sector for some time have left desperate families in a situation where traditional schooling simply isn’t fit to meet their children’s needs.
“You need only look to areas like Birmingham where a woeful lack of SEND provision has led to parent protests to see that families are at the end of their tether, and rightly so.”
And, online schooling can be the answer for many children, says Hugh, who has seen first hand the positive impact that a more bespoke learning environment can have on struggling pupils.
“We’re in a situation where 18% of children aged 7-16 were categorised by the NHS as having probable mental health difficulties last year. 1.5 million pupils are identified as having SEND requirements. With just under half of our students joining MVA as a result of mental health issues, physical health issues or additional needs, we know the transformational impact that a tailored approach can have.
“These are students who were previously physically sick with anxiety at the mention of school, those with SEND needs who were faced with sensory overload every time they set foot in the classroom or, in the very worst instances, children who were quite literally kicking and screaming at the school gates. With one-to-one mentorship, smaller class sizes and a flexible flipped learning model which allows them to learn at their own pace, they’re now different children who have the space and the support they need to thrive.”
And Hugh has invited parents who may be considering the switch to online to book onto one of the school’s discovery calls to find out how MVA could help.
“Online schooling is a world away from the virtual lessons we saw during the pandemic and although parents are often curious about alternatives to mainstream school, it’s this misconception that their children will be sat alone in front of a laptop, that can be the roadblock.
“I’d urge families who may be struggling to join one of our discovery calls, chat to our teaching team and find out more about life at MVA.”