Schools for the Future

a community vision for 21st Century education in mid and northwest Pembrokeshire

Could online learning save our 6th form?

distcance learningOnline communication, advertising, research, entertainment – it’s at the heart of 21st Century business and at the heart of 21st Century homes.  Digital skills are central to the Donaldson Review and the Welsh Government’s vision of 21st Century education.  Could online learning give us a 21st Century solution here?  Here’s Toby’s story.

Former YDS sixth former, Toby Houston-Sime, was frustrated not to be able to take an Environmental Studies A-level at the school, so with the school’s support he did it online.    The course was provided by Oxford Learning College.  It only costs around £300.   He’s now studying for an Environmental Resource Management degree at University of the West of England.

“I had a lot of support from the school in terms of examinations and that was really good, but there was so much information and support available through the internet and I had allotted times for web chats with my tutor that I didn’t need a lot else.”  Toby avoided the distractions of working at home by using his self study periods at school to do the work, and it got him the A-level he needed.  “It was absolutely vital.  Without it I couldn’t have done what I wanted to do.  And it’s such a cheap and easy way to provide schooling in rural areas.”

If Toby can do it off his own bat, surely there’s a way that we can build in the option of distance learning, based at the school, to broaden all students’ A-level choices?  Maybe some combination of school-based distance learning and weekly face-to-face tutorials could give our students a base at YDS while studying with a tutor in Fishguard or Haverfordwest?  That would save time and reduce travel costs and pollution.  Distance learning, starting with correspondence courses, has been part of rural education for decades.  Online learning is helping rural communities from Alice Springs to Alaska – should we do it here too?


  1. I think its a good idea using an online learning strategy at YDS. But firstly we need to make sure a fast and reliable network infrastructure (fibre optic broadband) is available and connected to the school to benefit this online learning option.

  2. schools for the future

    March 21, 2015 at 7:40 pm

    Yes, crucial. I think it’s on the cards for this year.

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