The key to attracting and retaining students
Esther Clark, Director of Marketing, Wey Education plc.
Attracting and retaining students and of course teachers, is the natural goal of all schools. However, for international schools the fluid nature of their audience means that achieving this can be a constant challenge. So, what are some schools doing to make their offering more attractive to new families and convert their student population from fluid to solid? Esther Clark, Director of Marketing at Wey Education, provider of the online school InterHigh, explains how Wey Education works in partnership with schools to help them achieve their goals.
Mobility, rather than stability, is often the norm for students in international schools. Generally linked to their parents’ careers, a proportion of the school population does not remain long enough to benefit from an uninterrupted educational experience. Naturally most schools believe this is beyond their control but for the schools we work with, this doesn’t have to be the case.
InterHigh is the UK’s leading online school. Since it opened in 2005, we have taught more than 10,000 pupils, currently with around 3,000 pupils in the school community. Between 40-60 per cent of pupils are ‘international’ whether that means they study outside of UK or are non-UK citizens resident in the UK.
Lessons are delivered in live, interactive classrooms by professionally qualified British teachers. We offer a full British curriculum; as pupils move through the school, they can study a full range of IGCSE and A Level courses. In 2018, our fully qualified, subject specialist teachers helped our learners achieve a 98 per cent pass rate at English GCSE and 73% achieving levels 9-4 across all subjects.
What makes us different from traditional schools is that our teaching is flexible, accessible and online. Some students are full time while others are only with us for a few months or join us just to study one specific subject – which brings me to the explanation of how working with us benefits international schools.
Attracting new students
By their very nature, families looking for the best school for their children come with certain criteria: a British curriculum delivered by British teachers, with the highest quality standards and pass marks in a broad range of subjects.
It is this last requirement, namely the broad range of subjects, that many international schools may struggle to support. Children coming from overseas to a new school often come with an expectation to continue to study subjects from their previous school. This could include IGCSE curriculum areas such as accounting or any number of languages from Arabic to Malay. The flexibility of InterHigh means that if an international school doesn’t have a teacher in place to offer any area of the curriculum, the students may be able to ‘attend’ InterHigh remotely, just for this subject. Offering this flexibility and breadth of subjects is a highly attractive option to many families. By working with us it enables the school to show that it can off a broader range of subjects. InterHigh, in essence, becomes a powerful extension to a school and their learning offer.
The other issue that international schools face is the natural flow of students arriving and leaving each year, but this doesn’t have to be the case.
Let’s take student and table tennis champion Anna Hursey as an example. As the youngest athlete in the history of any sport to compete in the Commonwealth Games, Anna’s training schedule makes her education increasingly complex. Anna used to study at Cardiff High School in Wales, a mixed comprehensive school in the UK. It was a brilliant school and she did well, but as the pressure of her training impacted on her schooling, this started to impact her academically. She therefore left her school to join InterHigh which allowed her to continue with her education whilst developing her table tennis career. Wherever she was in the world, she was able to progress with her education alongside her training. However, this didn’t have to be a permanent shift. An alternative option for Anna would have been to stay at Cardiff High School when she was in the UK and simply continue her GCSE studies with InterHigh when she was training overseas and needed that level of flexibility.
“I graduated InterHigh this past summer, getting A-levels in German, French, Literature and English. I am so amazed with how everything has turned out, but I am also very, very happy. My 14-year-old self would not recognise me today. I am incredibly grateful to my parents for home-schooling me and to InterHigh, for showing me what a gift education is and believing in me. Thank you InterHigh for changing my life.” Amy Lally, alumni, InterHigh
Another example is year 10 French student Adrien. Because of his father’s business, and his mother working between Australia and France, Adrien constantly moves between the two countries. Despite being happy with the education he could receive in Sydney the same couldn’t be said when he returned to spend time in France. Living right near the French Swiss border, the best teachers often get jobs in the Swiss schools which pay two to three times higher salaries. Therefore, the schools near Adrien didn’t offer the standard of education his family expected, and they also wanted Adrien to maintain his education in English.
So, during his time in France InterHigh became Adrien’s favoured option. “I love the freedom that InterHigh offers where you can balance lesson time with self-study. I have four, 40-minute lessons a day with plenty of homework that I can do at any time that suits me. With international flights likely to be limited for the foreseeable future, I feel lucky to have a constant stable education that I love.”
When asked if he finds learning at home lonely, Adrien explains, “No! It gives me the freedom to work around going out and seeing my friends, attending boxing classes and the theatre.”
Whether families need that flexibility because their child is a young actor, model, athlete or entrepreneur or if they want to study a subject not offered by their local school, InterHigh welcomes working with international schools to fill long or short-term requirements. We can support schools with a blended alternative or find the right resource to fill the needs of a future looking school especially as schools seek out and re-evaluate their online offering and teaching solution.
If we can find an upside amongst all the outcomes of Covid, it is the fact that there has been a huge swell of appreciation of the benefits of online learning and remote work. With Covid likely to disrupt schooling for some time to come, our teachers who are highly experienced at teaching virtually and delivering the highest quality, stable education, are an attractive option for schools, families, students and teachers.
To discuss a partnership with Wey Education in more detail, please visit:
ABOUT THE AUTHOR
Esther Clark is Marketing Director at Wey Education Plc. She is also an author and contributor to Forbes, America Economia and the World Economic Forum (WEF). Esther is a Peter Drucker Global Challenge winner and executive leader who promotes and practices human centered management and integrated thinking.
Thank you Esther for this great article and your thoughts