In many parts of the world, students are setting foot back in the classroom. In April more than 190 countries closed their schools – affecting 90% of learners worldwide. As of mid-September, educational institutions remain closed completely in just 33 countries.
But the way students study, play and relate to each other will look very different going forward. So what will education be like for students, teachers and parents in the future? In this article, we take a look at two of the biggest likely changes in what could be the ‘new normal’: hybrid learning and what this could mean for school fees.
Hybrid classes: blending in-person and online courses
When decision-makers assess how to safely and effectively reopen schools, heads often turn to the hybrid model. This is where teachers deliver a blend of in-person and online courses.
In theory, the model allows for students to once again receive valuable face-to-face classes, but this time in smaller groups. It makes it easier for social distancing to be enacted. It also gives schools the opportunity to reach students who may not have embraced online learning so far, or did not have access to the digital tools needed to attend their virtual class. At the same time, the school community can come together again in person, after the difficulties faced with distance learning.
The initial switch to online teaching at the start of the pandemic turned education on its head. Hybrid learning will be no different. Institutions or governments that decide to implement this model will have a set of scheduling and teaching challenges to overcome:
- What subjects should be taught in-person?
- How will teachers take on the extra workload?
- And what about parents – how will they handle childcare?
This Education Week article provides an excellent overview of four different hybrid model schedules, and the pros and cons of each. It explores:
- Running in-person classes for low-income students, English learners and those with special needs, while all other students take remote classes
- Delivering core classes face-to-face and electives online
- Offering in-person classes for younger learners, while secondary school students continue with distance learning
- Following the hybrid model by breaking students into morning and afternoon groups
But if you’re interested in learning about how the hybrid model works in action, The British International School Shanghai, Puxi, a Nord Anglia school, is one to watch. They put together a detailed breakdown back in March of how they’re organising both their primary and secondary hybrid learning plans.
Still, overall, when schools are given the green light to open fully across the world, it will be down to to each international school to consult with their learning community. Together they need to decide how they’ll continue classes – whether they be in-person, via a hybrid approach or fully remotely.
Around the world, some families were hesitant to pay full tuition fees when schools closed. Why did they have to pay for building upkeep when their kids were stuck at home? Or fund after-school activities that stopped once the pandemic began?
Parents signed petitions demanding schools lower fees – and many schools listened. For example The English Schools Foundation, which runs more than 20 international schools in Hong Kong, lowered fees by 45% in June. It announced an emergency assistance scheme after 2500 people signed a petition.
While tuition fees enable schools to offer high-quality teaching, institutions must also take into account that many families took an economic hit this year. Many international schools may need to consider offering families a tuition fees cut or freeze or offer additional learning opportunities for students studying from home if in-person classes don’t resume.
Like most things these days, it can be difficult to predict what education will look like in the coming months and years. But we are beginning to see the adoption of some exciting educational models, like hybrid learning, that are set to lead to more innovation into the classroom. When it comes to assessment, schools will have to be ready to pivot at any moment – but also flex their creative muscles and bring in new, interesting ways of assessing students’ soft skills. It’s also important for schools to listen to their communities and where possible, offer reasonable adjustments to fees or courses during these difficult times.