Why the Traditional Classroom Doesn’t Suit Every Student

Spaces where students can learn and be inspired don’t have to adopt a ‘one size fits all’ model, and a bricks and mortar setting isn’t the only option.

NEWS 3 Aug 2022

Across Australia, students have learned at home and online for various reasons. Sometimes the choice is due to geographical constraints, and sometimes families believe their children will learn more when they receive a more personalised education at home, rather than being in a traditional classroom.

The lockdowns and restrictions introduced in the wake of COVID-19 have shone a spotlight on the benefits of online learning. While it isn’t the most appropriate option for every student, there are undoubtedly some students for whom online learning can open up a world of potential.

The most recent statistics available show that more Australian families are investigating the possibilities of online learning.

The Victorian Registration & Qualifications Authority (VRQA) says that between 2019 and 2020, the number of children registered for home schooling grew by 20 per cent, and the next raft of figures are likely to show a further increase.

As in Victoria, other states are reporting rises in the number of students who are learning at home. In NSW, there has been an estimated 28 per cent increase in registrations for home education and South Australia has seen an estimated 34 per cent rise.

These figures indicate a clear need for students and families to be given alternatives to the traditional classroom, such as instead learning in a virtual classroom.

Haileybury Pangea is Victoria’s first private online school for students in Years 5 to 12. Students are currently being enrolled and will begin their online educational journey in 2023.

Building on Haileybury’s 130-year history in Victoria, Haileybury Pangea uses the school’s proven teaching and learning methods to deliver an academic program based on the Australian curriculum and VCE accreditation. But it is delivered totally online.

Haileybury Pangea offers 23 VCE subjects – all delivered in a safe, online environment that promotes student learning, wherever that student is located.

Rather than signalling the demise of the traditional classroom, Haileybury Pangea is about giving a choice to students who thrive in the virtual classroom. So, what kinds of students may engage more deeply with the online school experience?

On a practical level, the online classroom levels the playing field for students in geographically remote areas. It removes barriers of distance and enables those students to access the same high-quality teaching and curriculum opportunities as students living in metropolitan areas.

Since Haileybury Pangea was officially launched, it has fielded thousands of inquiries, including from families living in remote parts of Australia whose children have previously had to leave home and attend boarding schools.

The virtual classroom instead brings brilliant teaching and learning into the home.

Online learning also brings greater flexibility than a traditional classroom that operates during traditional school hours. This is critical for talented students juggling intensive commitments outside the school curriculum, such as those who belong to elite sport or performing arts programs.

The Haileybury Pangea school week typically includes a bespoke blend of live instruction, prepared video content, assessment tasks and one-on-one or small group-based time with subject teachers.

Self-paced learning is a fundamental component of the curriculum, supported by an extensive suite of online resources. Essentially, apart from some live instruction classes during the week, students have greater flexibility to work around their other commitments.

Importantly, online schooling also suits students who are self-motivated and who want to delve deeper into topics. Along the way, this fosters the development of key skills such as how to discover, evaluate and apply new knowledge.

This involves sharpening skills like critical thinking, independent learning and being entrepreneurial and enterprising. It also helps students develop an appreciation of life-long learning and enhances their skills in using new technologies as they navigate the online world.

The pandemic has illustrated that in the world of education in the 21st century, there is now scope for the traditional and virtual classrooms to co-exist.

While there will always be a role for bricks and mortar learning spaces, there is now growing recognition that for some young people, the virtual classroom is an engaging, inspiring and exciting place to question, explore and discover.