Highgrove Education

How do we support our pupils to become better independent learners?

When you hear the words “online school,” your mind may turn to the at-home education many children have received during the COVID-19 pandemic. However, a true online school is vastly different to the emergency remote learning many experienced when their classrooms were brought online. 
Student Studying

Our flipped approach to online teaching and learning relies on excellent self-study resources and second-to-none support for pupils as they adapt to becoming more independent learners.

It is not enough to have outstanding self-study materials; we also need to support our pupils to learn how to use them.  Most of our pupils join us from traditional British school environments and need support adjusting to a more independent style of learning.  We provide this for all pupils enrolled on our enrichment programme through a Skills and Mindset course and through weekly one-to-one coaching sessions.

Our Skills and Mindset course covers the micro-skills needed to become a successful independent learner – things like time management, avoiding procrastination and developing academic study skills. It also covers broader topics such as the importance of exercise, diet and sleep, developing self-knowledge, and dealing with anxiety and stress. We find that a broad focus on well-being helps create a firm base for success, and that pupils welcome the exploratory discussions that form the basis of their Skills and Mindset course.

The course is delivered by learning coaches who meet each pupil for a weekly coaching session to help them stay on track with their learning, reflect on their broader profile and purpose and put in place goals to work towards; both long-term university and career aspirations, and short-term study and personal growth goals.

Our learning coaches are also a good link between families and the school, keeping parents informed if a pupil is struggling with their independent study and liaising with teachers if a pupil or their parents let us know about factors which may be impacting their focus.

What to do when pupils struggle to study independently?

When pupils struggle to keep on top of their self-study work, we will often invite them (or sometimes oblige them) to attend Study Hall sessions. Pupils check in to a session, share the list of work they need to complete with the supervisor, then at the end of the session show the supervisor what they have achieved. This accountability can help keep pupils on track while they adjust to a more independent way of working.

For most pupils it’s a matter of weeks before they feel comfortable with independent study, and the constant practice and support helps them to develop study skills which will last a lifetime.  Our leavers who have gone on to university often tell us that they feel streets ahead of their peers, and have no problem meeting essay deadlines and staying on top of their workload, because they’ve already been studying in a style that gives them responsibility for their own learning.