In what’s been a momentous 12 months for education in general, Minerva has continued to gallop ahead, working at the cutting edge of our ever-growing and exciting homeschooling revolution.
In this blog, we take a look back over the academic year, explaining how we helped our students get top grades as well as hearing from Scott, Head of Homeschooling, on how Minerva manages it all…
The ‘unprecedented’ wasn’t all bad…
After a year of significant upheaval in the education sector thanks to the Covid-19 pandemic, parents and pupils continued to adapt to the demands of lockdowns and homeschooling well into 2021, and the ‘unprecedented’ nature of our lives continued.
The struggle for many parents – half of whom said that homeschooling was affecting their well-being – emphasised the need for qualified, external help: homeschooling was benefiting students across the country, but parents were struggling to balance it with their own work.
But there was also a wave of inspiration, fresh thinking and alternative vision, enabled by the pandemic – many parents could not ignore the opportunities presented by the possibilities of homeschooling.
2021 continued to see a rise in the number of parents and families turning to homeschooling as a way to offer their child a better education, and the UK continues to lead the way in its adoption.
Minerva saw a significant uptick in homeschooling demands for 2021 and, as an educational company that strongly believes in the multitude of advantages that comes from this bespoke, flexible and exciting mode, we were thrilled to get to work with new pupils and parents from around the country.
What is homeschooling, and why does it matter?
Homeschooling means providing the same rigorous level of education for your child, outside of a traditional school setting. Children still achieve the same necessary qualifications at the end of the school year, but the way in which they go about learning and studying is far more flexible and specifically tailored to each pupil’s needs.
In the House of Commons Education report on the matter for 2021-22, the reviewers state that ‘as a minimum, home-educated children must have equity of access to the next stage of their education, work or training with their schooled peers.’
There is an ongoing rise in Elective Home Education (EHE) across the United Kingdom, and the British Government are ‘absolutely committed’ to recognising and supporting this rise, meaning homeschooling is becoming less and less ‘alternative’, and better recognised for the advantages it has to offer.
People homeschool their child for a wide variety of reasons, from ideological, religious and specific or special educational needs to desire for a more customised, individual and child-focussed mode of education.
The House of Commons reports: ‘We heard from parents that EHE was a “really positive choice for the vast majority of families, with children thriving, and growing up to be successful, contributing members of society”.
To find out more about how to start homeschooling, check out our advice centre.
What is Minerva’s homeschooling ethos?
We ensure our pupils benefit from a rigorous, supportive, creative, and uniquely tailored 1-on-1 education, wherever they live in the world.
Whichever curriculum our pupils are studying, whether its Key Stage 1, 2, or 3, GCSE, A Level, or IB, we deliver world class private teaching that reaches deeper and further than what can be achieved at a traditional school.
Given the huge advantages 1-to-1 teaching affords, we have time to encourage our pupils to be curious at every stage of their education. We help our pupils become highly confident, critical learners. We help them do brilliantly in their exams. We prepare them for the world ahead, and we hope to leave them with a life long love of learning.
Each of our families is provided with an outstanding Minerva tutor (or team of tutors). These are professionally trained, Government-vetted, highly experienced homeschool teachers who have been hand picked by Minerva because of their above-average emotional intelligence and all-round ability to encourage, motivate, and inspire.
We help with every aspect of a child’s education, from timetable management to exam registration and unique field-trips or on-site lessons, whilst also offering extra-curricular mentoring to make sure that your child is able to feel like learning isn’t just an obligation or a chore.
Put simply: there’s no other company in the country that does what we do: normally, you are left with a tutor, and left to manage the timetabling and exam registration yourself. Minerva offers the full package, a brilliant education for your child at home.
What about exam grades for homeschooled children?
After 2020’s Governmental fiasco with exam grades, thousands of homeschooled children were left without end-of-year grades and results.
You’d have been forgiven for thinking things might have been sorted for summer 2021, but again, thanks to Teacher Assessed Grades, many homeschooled kids were threatened with no recognised exam grades at the end of this academic school year.
Last year, around 30,000 homeschooled children could not receive their exam results, because the Government would not recognise – or did not have the structures in place to recognise – homeschooled childrens’ grades, due to these students not having teachers who were part of institutions which the Government recognised.
Last year, and this year, everyone who was homeschooled with Minerva was able to receive officially accredited and qualified exam grades thanks to Minerva’s Governmental recognition through our partner exam centres. Our tutors have been sanctioned and trusted just as much as regular teachers, enabling us to provide the necessary end-of-year grades to all our homeschooled pupils.
The grades are now out, and we’re happy to say that our homeschooled students have achieved truly excellent marks, giving strength to the argument that kids thrive under these kinds of conditions.
Breaking down our ‘100% success rate’ – how did parents react?
- Below is a selection of results and names from a wider pool of our pupils, all of whom achieved pass results in the exams they were taking
- Names have been changed for privacy reasons
Gemma, one of our GCSE pupils this year, achieved a mix of 8’s and 9’s across the board, whilst Giles achieved an A in his A-Level Maths and Mark a 9 in his Spanish GCSE, both of which were subjects they were homeschooled by Minerva for.
Our homeschooling tutors were called ‘truly commendable… dedicated, flexible and committed to helping [their] students achieve a high grade’ by Mrs B, mother of Giles.
Another parent commended their tutor’s provision of all-round support, writing ‘Liam was also very good at replying to any queries that I sent by email, and was proactive at coming up with solutions or adjustments to the sessions where necessary.’
Other results saw Anna, a fully homeschooled student with Minerva, achieve four 9’s, two 8’s and one 7 in her GSCEs, whilst Robin attained a 6, 7 and 8 in exams he managed to take a year early thanks to Minerva’s support. David got three A*s in his A-Levels, which he was also entirely homeschooled for by Minerva.
Scott, our Head of Homeschooling, said he was ‘over the moon’ for parents and students who’d been ‘full of anxiety for a second year running at the potential of no exam results.’ He mentioned how one parent had even phoned him in ‘tears of joy’!
Read on below for an interview with Scott about how Minerva’s homeschooling works, and how it continued to grow and flourish in 2021.
An Interview with Scott, Head of Homeschooling at Minerva
Hi Scott, tell us about how Minerva’s homeschooling programme weathered the pandemic, and how you managed to achieve your ‘100% Success Rate’ with students this year?
Well, when the boundaries between traditional school and homeschooling started to collapse in 2020, that catalysed an appreciation for the kinds of proper, rigorous homeschooling that Minerva offers.
I was in regular contact with the exam boards every week, figuring out how we were going to steer our students through. Because of this blurring of the boundaries between trad- and home-schooling, exam boards and governmental institutions were encouraged to recognise an institution like Minerva as equally worthy of certification. We became a partner of all the top exam boards like Edexcel and AQA.
So, after regular liaising and demonstrating our credentials, we were fully recognised by the Government, and trusted to distribute Teacher Assessed Grades for the exam seasons of both 2020 and 2021.
This meant our tutors functioned exactly as school teachers, gathering and submitting their reports and evidence on their students’ work throughout the year in April-May-time, and we were absolutely thrilled to achieve this ‘100% success rate’, whereby all our homeschool students matched – or achieved higher – their predicted grades.
What was it like working with the parents of your homeschooling students over the past year or so?
Our homeschooling all used to be face-to-face, but that was another thing the pandemic catalysed: parents got on board very quickly with the move online, and saw how their kids were managing to thrive under these conditions. If your child likes learning on a screen – as, let’s face it, so many of the next generation do – then why fight an uphill battle? Better to harness all the advantages this way of learning has to offer.
Meanwhile, in about June-July of 2020, we had an influx of parents coming to us wanting to move their kids out of their regular schools and start homeschooling with Minerva. Parents who’d taken on homeschooling themselves had seen both the potential it had to suit their children better than their regular school, but also experienced first hand the difficulty of organising homeschooling themselves. So they came to us to help strike that balance.
The pandemic has really changed people’s opinions of homeschooling in this sense: it’s no longer seen as ‘alternative’ or even ‘hippie-ish’, as some of the older generation might perceive it, but, thanks to institutions like Minerva, as a progressive, equally rigorous mode of education with a lot to offer thanks to its flexibility.
What is the difference, then, between Minerva’s Homeschooling System over hiring a freelance individual?
What you’re getting with Minerva is effectively all the benefits of an institutional system, with all the flexibility and one-on-one approach of homeschooling or tutoring.
My team effectively acts as a kind of homeschooling headmaster, so that parents always have a point of contact beyond the tutor. We organise, develop and work on things like timetabling, tutor deployment, and exam board liaison, as well as using Temple – our unique parent-tutor portal – to build conversations with parents.
Tell us more about Temple, and about how the Minerva homeschooling system works?
Our tutors give full reports on a pupils’ progress after every lesson, uploading this info to Temple, which parents can then log into and check. You can see what was covered in a lesson, what weak or strong points were identified, and what action will be taken next.
This helps us establish conversations with parents, and helps them feel empowered and involved. They can come right to us to discuss anything from curriculum to motivation issues, and we can adapt to and address them.
We find the right tutors for each student and, rather than having eight different teachers for eight different subjects, we assign a handful of tutors to homeschool our kids – with one tutor covering subjects like English, History, Geography, say, whilst another covers Maths and Sciences – so that children can develop better relationships with their teachers, and the tutors can also adapt and develop their teaching techniques across subjects, knowing the pupil as they do more thoroughly.
Timetabling-wise, we listen to parents first and foremost. Does your daughter work better in the morning than in the afternoon? Let’s program a timetable based around that! We’re very flexible, assigning whatever tutors we can to work around specific or demanding timetables, such as those working around sporting or other such specialist training.