If you’re uncertain whether online schooling in South Africa is a good option for your child, or which online school will be best for them, this checklist will help.
Before considering an online school, it’s important to consider your child and understand how they prefer to learn. Many children who have been unhappy in a bricks-and-mortar school thrive in an online school.
Online schooling could, for instance, be a great option for students with learning difficulties who will benefit from having recorded lessons to go back to as often as they need to. Equally, we find that top students love the flexibility to streak ahead and challenge themselves. This is why all Teneo’s live classes are recorded and made available to students so that they can do revision at their own pace – another of the big advantages of online learning.
A checklist for choosing an online school
Whether you’ve decided on a real-time online school with live classes or a flexible programme where students are able to “attend” recorded classes in between other activities, asking these questions will help you to find the best option for your child.
1. Are the teachers qualified and do they receive ongoing training and support?
All teachers at legitimate schools have to be qualified and registered with the South African Council for Educators. Teneo assesses their staff on an ongoing basis by using pre- and post-moderation techniques. This ensures that the desired standards of teaching are maintained.
When asking about teachers’ credentials, be specific and also check that the school is accredited with credible, legitimate examination boards. Teneo Online School is
registered with three different examination boards: SACAI and IEB for students following the South African curriculum and Pearson Edexcel for those who want to follow the British curriculum. All Teneo schools allow students to achieve the South African Matric NSC certificate and enable them to apply to tertiary institutions in South Africa and abroad.
2. What examples are there to show that the school puts students’ needs first?
When classes are led by qualified teachers and assignments and tests are set and marked by teachers, students will get personal feedback on each lesson and assignment to develop their unique learning pathway.
Communication with parents and students has to be open, regular and easy. As at any other school, online schools provide parents with regular feedback, so that you don’t have to wait until a parents’ meeting to get updates on your child’s progress. There are tools for tracking class attendance and assignment and exam results in real time. Teneo, for instance, has a dashboard where parents can keep track of a child’s progress. Once an account has been created, it can be accessed any time.
In addition to academic feedback on progress and marks, Teneo schools’ Family Portal allows students and parents to log tickets for technical, academic and general support. This platform ensures that queries are answered as quickly as possible.
3. Aside from classes, how do I know that my child will be cared for?
Ask whether there are live lessons and that recording of these live lessons can be viewed on demand. Live lessons encourage teacher and pupil interaction and develop connections that are essential to learning and social development. If the school has a “cameras on” policy in all classes, as Teneo does, teachers will be able to see students’ body language and look out for changes in their behaviour.
This is just one way in which the best South African online schools can demonstrate that they put students’ intellectual, physical, social and emotional wellbeing first. Without live lessons and recorded lessons delivered by expert teachers, your child may struggle to achieve cognitive, intellectual and academic success. A well-established, well-run school will have the necessary processes, procedures and resources in place to ensure each student’s safety.
4. How does the school measure success?
Do teachers and the school board focus solely on academic marks and a 100% matric pass rate or do they also look beyond that to what is realistic for a student? Will they provide for gifted students to ensure that they remain engaged and challenged? And will they equip your child with more than academic knowledge to help them to grow into a well-rounded adult who can take their place in the world? The best online schools and colleges in South Africa will have addressed these concerns.
5. Does the school also offer opportunities for social interaction with classmates and for pursuing other interests?
Like online meetings, online classes provide limited interaction with friends. Some online schools therefore offer the same extramural activities as bricks-and-mortar schools, for example, robotics, chess and drama. Others dedicate more time to group projects and virtual study groups.
Recordings of live teaching allow students to follow their interests, whether it’s participating in a sports event or acting in a TV series. In fact, many online school students are athletes, gymnasts, snooker champions and the like, and benefit from being able to study in their own time so that they will have time to also do the things they love. Naturally recorded lessons help all students to do revision when it suits them, even when they are in a different time zone.
In addition to social clubs, all Teneo students are allocated to a Homeroom classroom to meet with the teacher and class twice a week to do fun activities, share knowledge and news, celebrate birthdays or have a general check-in. The school’s community celebrates students as they interact and connect inside and outside the classroom.