Frequently Asked Questions

This page contains answers to common questions, along with some tips and tricks that we have found useful and presented here as questions.

   What sort of student attends Briteschool ?

There are seven main reasons why students particularly value online education and supported Home Education as a serious alternative to attending physical schools and colleges:

- Worldwide residents / expatriates wanting a British-style education, but not satisfied with local provision, or living too remote for the desired schooling (and not wanting to have their children attend a Boarding School, for example)

- Disability or health issues - either of the student, or a close family member
- Confidence issues, perhaps associated with:
- Bullying in a mainstream school

- High achievers and independent learners, perhaps with less common learning styles

- School "refusers" (for other reasons than above)
- Philosophical, social or religious principles

 

Or perhaps several of these, in combination.

Because the school community is geographically-dispersed, sensitised children, for example, usually find that their confidence increases over time because relationships develop in a more measured fashion, and at the student's own pace.  Also, as the teacher usually controls the microphone, contact between students is frequently by texting in the major part - which means a record can be kept, and possible cases of inappropriate or misconstrued behaviour noted and dealt with quickly and sensitively.

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   What sort of computer stuff do I need ?

Just about any internet-ready computer with a microphone and speakers (or, better, a headset) should work.  The software has been tested using standard browsers (MS Internet Explorer, Safari, Mozilla, Firefox), and standard operating systems (Windows 98, 2000, WinXP, MacOS-9, OS-X).

Dial-up works fine, from 28.8 kbps, but Broadband or ISDN / ADSL access is preferable, as dial-up access may cause a reduction in response speed for some of the applications, and a lesser quality. Furthermore, dial-up connections are frequently dropped.  However, experience has shown that your ISP (Internet Service Provider) is at least as likely to slow things down, and geographical location on the planet may slow things a little, too. 

In addition,   Environmental Requirements

Students (and their siblings and the rest of their family) need to be told of the importance of NO DISTRACTIONS while in class. 

 

Please ensure that:

other communication software is turned off (for example, MSN, Yahoo Communicator, emails, other web browsers);

that the student's mobile phone is turned off;

and that distractions such as background music are kept to a minimum (certainly we would recommend having NO TV and NO music on in the same room while lessons are going on - when speaking on the mic, the teacher and other students frequently cannot hear what is being said).
 

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  What are the advantages of attending Briteschool ?

The student has more time with the family, more time for non-school activities, and can attend school even whilst on vacation. 

 

This form of schooling is efficient - lessons are spent learning, not with the teacher dealing with distractions - disciplinary issues, dolling out text books and homework sheets, collecting them in, and the like.

 

At Briteschool, behaviour can be closely monitored, and records of written communications between students may be kept (by the student her-/himself if desired).

 

Work done in class may be revised immediately afterwards, in the student's free time - and experiments in Science, for example, may be repeated by the student as often as is wished.  Furthermore, the student gets to do ALL the experiments themself, rather than having one of a group dominate proceedings. 

 

The scope for copying peers is reduced.

 

It is often cheaper than attending a local expatriate British school, or a remote Boarding one.

 

It is another choice for parents / guardians, or could be used in combination with other educational provision.  And if you don't like what we're doing, you can leave very easily.

 

It is a new and exciting development in education, which the British Government will no doubt move towards utilising to some degree in the future, as the overheads are much lower (no school buildings to source and maintain, virtually no support staff costs).

 

The student is less likely to suffer from exposure to Bird 'Flu or other airborne or physical nasties.

 

Time and money is not spent on getting to and from school, nor on maintaining an expensive uniform - 1,300 per pupil per year is spent on "everyday school expenses" according to this recent BBC article.

 

The student gets the sort of food for lunch that the parent wants.

 

We are very competent, professional and dedicated teachers.

 

It is very easy to withdraw if the student finds online education is not for him/her - or to take selected subjects instead of the full suite of subjects offered.  We have found that about 5-10% of students find they don't like this method of education; another 5-10% decide to use the part-time option instead.

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   What are the disadvantages of attending Briteschool ?

The student has perhaps too much time with the family, and gets bored as there may be few non-school activities available nearby.

 

The teacher cannot see the child, so an individual's attention in a larger online class may drift.  The student may have distracting music or software on while supposedly interacting in the lesson.  Thus, we will keep class sizes to twelve, maximum, for Primary-aged children; and to no more than fifteen for Secondary students.  (Ideally, class sizes will be ten and twelve for each, respectively).  With distractions, there is an element of trust: parents / guardians should monitor for any distractions, as Briteschool teachers cannot.

 

Socialisation opportunities may be reduced - fewer peers, and less face-to-face  contact with others.  Certain norms of behaviour and dress may not be observed and learnt from.

 

Resistance to illness may be reduced over the longer term, as the student is less often exposed to viruses, microbes and the like.

 

We recommend regular out-of-Briteschool social activities for your child to help offset the above two arguable "lackings".  However, several of our parents have commented that their child has shown improvements in being much more relaxed, and have a new-found confidence in their day-to-day interactions with adults and peers.  Their child is now eager to learn.  The reasons parents give: a result of "de-schooling" and no longer suffering at the hands of bullies.

 

Materials, such as text books and exercise books, have to be bought by the student, adding to the cost of provision.  But they are kept in good, graffiti-free condition, and may be later used by a sibling, or sold on to other students.

 

Exercise book maintenance and checking is problematic - work tends to be performed electronically; but most of the exams the students will sit remain paper-based, potentially putting e-learners at a disadvantage.  At Briteschool, students are encouraged to work on paper as often as possible, and to scan or take a digital photograph of their work for submission.  This is one area of vital importance, and in which the support of the parent / guardian is invaluable.

 

Behaviour is closely monitored, and records of written communications between students may be kept - some may feel this is encroaching on privacyHowever, records of communications, when taken, are not kept indefinitely.  Most times, only the immediately-previous-lesson's text record is kept, and then overwritten.

 

Some subjects do not lend themselves to online teaching - we do not offer Art, Handicraft-based subjects, or Music, for example.  Of those we do offer, Science is perhaps the most challenging - experiments in Science are often simplified versions of what would be performed in most schools - there is simply not the equipment and chemicals necessary in most homes.  However, usually online files exist, which are often more visually stimulating.  These files and the home experiments may be repeated as many times as the student requires or finds stimulating, and the student gets the benefit of hands-on experience on their own, rather than as part of a group.

 

It is more expensive than attending a Government / LEA-funded school (which is free).  But not so much more expensive when you subtract the costs of getting to school, school dinners, school uniform, and some additional supplementary costs that schools add on.  See also this recent BBC article which states that 1,300 per pupil per year is spent on "everyday school expenses".  Factor in the consequent reduced "need" for a second car for many families, and Briteschool makes good economic and environmental sense !

 

It is a new development in education, and is therefore comparatively unregulated (more so than is the case with fee-collecting schools in the UK or abroad).  Briteschool is registering with bodies that will oversee our educational provision.

 

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   I live in the US - can you schedule classes for my child ?

At present, class times are least convenient for students living in the US.  We have scheduled some classes to be at a more convenient time for students based on the East Coast of the US.  However, we have not been able to accommodate all enquiries.

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    How do I use "Skype" ?

Click on one of the links to "Skype", then follow the on-screen instructions. You need speakers to hear the other person; a microphone and earphones (a headset is perhaps more convenient) to talk to them - it is a secure, on-line, free VoIP telephony service, with useful additional features. 

"Skype" allows multiple users to call-conference, and allows free calls to any other "Skype" user anywhere in the world.  It also allows you to own a number in another country that locals can call - many expatriate Brits have a UK "Skype" (Manchester !) number that friends and relatives may easily and cheaply call from their UK telephones.

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    What is an ECRB check ?

An ECRB check is an Enhanced Criminals Record Bureau disclosure check, meeting higher levels of scrutiny than an ordinary CRB check.  See the page on CRB-checks for schools on the Government's Disclosure website:

http://www.crb.gov.uk/

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    Do you use only Qualified Teachers ?

We believe the best way to educate your child is to use Qualified and Experienced Teachers.  If we want to use a teacher who is qualified but has no experience, we will tell you in advance.  If we use an unqualified teacher, we will ask you if that's okay, well in advance.

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   Are you Mac compatible ?

Yes.  We have tested extensively using MacOS-X and Safari.

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    Is your software secure ?

Our software is the most secure software we know of amongst the live online schools in the World at the moment.  Whilst no software is perfectly secure, students using our software CANNOT be contacted by other persons via the classroom software whilst in class.  The FBI and the US Air Force use the same software for their meetings, we believe.

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    Why do you use a microphone to teach ?

To keep the students engaged, as simply texting and / or using presentation software is simply not stimulating enough.  Previous experience has shown that it is difficult to keep students on-task and responsive without continuous microphone contact and interaction.

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    Do you have any private tuition groups available for my child to join ?

Possibly - the situation changes from week-to-week - email or call for the latest information.

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    What if my child does not want to use a microphone ?

That's fine - they don't have to.  It's nice to have two-way verbal communication, but texting the answers is usually good enough !  Several of our students are silent :)

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    Do you do an online education for adults ?
Yes. What do you have in mind ?
From January, we plan to offer the ECDL (European Computer Driving Licence). We could offer classes in French or any of the subjects we offer to IGCSE - Maths, Double Award Science, or the individual subjects (Chemistry, Physics, Biology), History, Geography, English Language and possibly also Spanish. Oh, and German, too. All we'd need is four students and a regular slot in the timetable in the evenings.
Beginners' language courses would be shorter and more frequent - every term, 20 hours (2 hours x 10 weeks).
We also could offer online tuition in other subject areas, and to more advanced levels - for example, Chartered Institute of Marketing (CIM) professional modules, and Chartered Institute of Purchasing and Supply (CIPS) professional courses.
Contact us to state what course you would like us to offer, and we'll see if we can organise one !
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   I click on a link and get a 404 error in this site ?

The site pages get updated all the time.  For important changes, the page is renamed to indicate a change.  This is because old pages may persist and give out-of-date information.  Go back to the Home page, and click the Refresh button at the top of your browser window.

If this doesn't work, and for external links that don't work, please tell us via the suggestions page - thanks !

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    Are you flexible in your prices ?

We are negotiable on payment schedules - if it would be easier for you to pay over twelve months, rather than nine, or all at once, please discuss.  Also, we could be contacted if you run into financial difficulties - continuous education of your child is more important in the longer term !

For one-to-one tuition, or tuition in small groups, prices are negotiated directly with the subject teacher, not with Briteschool.  So, if you pay for ten weeks' tuition at two hours per week in advance, discounts may be negotiable !  :)

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