28 Feb 2023

What is a hybrid school?

A new model of school is offering a combination of home learning and time in the classroom. We look at the pros and cons and find out more about this new way of learning from hybrid school Portland Place.

Since the pandemic, much has been written about the move in the workplace to hybrid working, with employers and employees enjoying greater flexibility in terms of working from home and time in the office, so much so that Debrett’s, in conjunction with Poly, have created a Guide for Global Etiquette in the Workplace.

But it is not just the workplace that is changing. For most of us, not just here in the UK but around the world, the effects of Covid19 and the ensuing Lockdown has had and will have a significant impact. So many of the clients and schools that we speak to disclose increased levels of anxiety in their children/student body, and much of this anxiety is centred around social situations and the pressures of school life. There is also an ever increasing number of providers offering online education for children around the world.

In our role as education consultants, advising families who are looking for the very best education provision for their children, Debrett’s Education has discovered one school that has taken the idea a step further and is providing a hybrid model, where children learn online for part of the week but can then opt to attend school in person between one and two days.

Part of the AlphaPlus group of schools, Portland Place was founded in 1996 to be an alternative to the intense, large, examination-focused independent day schools. Headmaster David Bradbury recognises children need a safe space to thrive and explore their creativity, and he and his team work hard to ensure that Portland Place is just that.

Our founder, Sioban O’Connor has built a relationship with the school over the last five years and has seen at first hand the nurturing ethos of the school. She was excited by the possibilities that a hybrid model affords and wanted to find out more.

Portland Place’s model started in response to the pandemic as it had successfully navigated its way through online learning and found that many of its students had thoroughly enjoyed the virtual experience. It decided to extend the idea into a hybrid school offer from September 2020 and has found that it has gone from strength to strength.

There are now just under 40 students in the school, all of whom have chosen this route for a variety of reasons. Some found that full time schooling was just too much, but are now finding that the hybrid model allows them to build their confidence and ease back into full time. Others have other commitments – especially children who excel in sport and would struggle to balance their training and competition schedules with a more conventional school structure. Hybrid schools also give parents the opportunity to access independent school education at a fraction of the cost.

So how does it work? Every morning starts with a compulsory registration period, where the students meet as they would if they were in school, and have time with their tutor. This roots the students in the group and creates a pastoral structure for them. Then the lessons begin.

Students come into school either one or two days a week, depending on what they feel they can manage, not least in terms of the logistics of getting into school – one pupil lives in Manchester, but does come into school for Geography field trips and other key events. The lessons that students come in for are predominately those with a practical element: Science, Drama and DT for example. This is also a great way to connect them with other students and with the school community; they can also be part of the whole school activities and can join sports fixtures, school productions, choirs etc.

If you think that this might be a great solution for your child (and you as a family) and would like to find out more, have a look at their website and see what some of the existing parents have to say about it:

Hybrid School | Portland Place (portland-place.co.uk

Alternatively,  if you would like free impartial advice about a range of school options for your child, please give one of our consultants a call on +44 (0) 203 848 9201, or fill out the enquiry form on our website: education.debretts.com

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