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Schola Liberum is an entirely fresh approach to learning for all children

Frequently Asked Questions

What locations could work for a cluster of learners?

There needs to be space enough for around 8 learners, overseen by 2 others, to work for each day. Normally five days a week. A cluster of learners may move between different base locations on different days and will use base camps too - botanic gardens, libraries for example.

Here are just five examples, from many possible clusters of learners:

1 a mixed age group of children from 5 families working between homes with a rota of parents in place to be the group's daily LRA (see below). A parent would need to find no more than a day or part of a day for this and we anticipate this can usually be made to fit into their full time employment schedule.

2 a mixed age group of children from 5 families (as above) but working in a vacated small shop premises very near to their homes.

3 a mixed age group of children sharing a workplace with their parents - this may be a small very local employer, or small "start-up" space, or it may be a cluster of parents also "working from home" but sharing a few facilities. The clusters of learners would need their own space within those premises, but it makes clusters of home workers very viable too.

4 a stable medium sized company hosting two or three clusters of learners for its own employees who "take their children to work" and then take them home again too - goodbye "dropping off" and "collecting" logistics, with a clear view of who they are with all day.

5 a group of mothers, themselves returning to study as online undergraduates, hosting a learning cluster alongside their own study in a their own homes.

What is a typical group size for a cluster of learners?

The model is designed around a cluster of learners that would normally be between 6 and 10, but slightly smaller and larger groups will work too.

Clusters of learners are all components of one great global family of learners. Children will reach out, safely, to other parts of that family for their collaborative projects and prolem solving. They emerge from their initial learning journey with a habit of global working, employable around the world, from home or nearby.

Who looks after the learners?

Each cluster of learners will have an LRA (Lead Responsible Adult) and normally there would be another adult in attendance too (for example to cover those very rare cases where the LRA needed to take a learner to hospital).

Typically the LRA would be a parent (or grandparent) and are not needed to be qualified teachers. The LRA is contracted to the specific cluster of learners, and the LRA arranges their support pair.

Qualified teachers, online, manage and support the individual learning paths for each learner. Our past experience is that a huge "army" of qualified teachers exist outside of schools - they have retired or left for many reasons (spouse moving, exhaustion, despair at the paperwork, career break...) and are delighted to be able to newly pursue learning support at this highly personal level.

How do clusters find specialists to help online??

We will register, and steadily grow, a team of specialists, worldwide. We know how to do this and have done it before. There are a lot of people willing and able to help - when we ran Notschool .net one of the secondary age Literature specialists was living on a narrowboat and exploring the English canal systems, but she was still passionate about poetry and loved working with school age learners, online.

What about quality assurance?

QA is simple to sample, because so much of the activity, and outcomes, are online. But we will also use peer referencing so that a cluster seeking, for example, an early years maths specialist will look to see others' ratings of the specialist available. this is a model that is familiar if you've booked an online taxi service - the driver is rated by others, and will also rate you.

What ages would be included in a a cluster of learners?

Initially we saw this as encompassing the normal "school ages" for children, but as universities expand dramatically into online learning (rather than just streamed lectures), and portfolio careers expand to allow fresh returns to learning, via online learning, then we really don't see a limit to the age portfolio of a cluster of learners.

What about safety and wellbeing?

For the clusters of children, two adults are present. Not as qualified teachers (they come in online, mainly), but as a Lead Responsible Adult and a helper. All adults involved are DBS or ICPC cleared, including participating parents. Of course.

How is this better than what went before, with private and public schools, colleges and even traditional home learning?

A lot of online learning, as we have seen with the home learning of the coronavirus crisis, is a subset of the "full" experience of face to face learning. Our experience is that ScholaLiberum can be different - a superset of possible learning approaches, rather than a subset.It doesn't seek to replace tradional approaches, but to complement them with an alternative that, for many children and families, will be better.

How does the funding work? What are the costs?

Originally we were seeking government support as part of state provision. But the frustration of response ("it doesn't fit the form") led us to re-evaluate possible costs and incomes. We think we can do this for everyone, very affordably indeed. Watch this space...

Is this a global community of learners? How does that work?

From the outset this is a global community of local learning clusters. Children (and others) passing through will develop good skills at working with others on the same line of longitude, or sharing projects across 24 hours with others on a similar line of latitude.

We will use technology to smooth path between languages and will relish the variety of cultures exhibited by our local learning clusters.

I'm worried about my child's friendship groups. I want them to learn social skills and meet new people to interact with

The reason for clusters is to maintain a supportive group of children, a learning family so to speak, who know each other well, have something in common, and develop together. Some parents will confirm that the anonymity of a large school, with bullying and cliches, can be a very lonely and unhappy place for many children.

The opportunity to share project tasks with other clusters around the world is an important social skill for children to develop; they live in an increasingly global and interconnected workld.

What about exams? I still want my child to 'do well' academically

So do we! We will cover a common curriculum, recognisable as core in many countries. Depending on which country you are in we would expect your child to progress into the region's external exams, that are often common at 16 and 18 years. By making the learning bespoke and using everything we know to optimise your child's learning we would expect in some areas of the general curriculum to see considerable progress - there is no limit on how fast they can go if they are passionate about a subject or topic. Our structure is around Stage, not Age.

So it should be possible, depending on national regulations, for your child to take the external exams early if they wish andfeel that they have progressed enough.

Would I need to withdraw my child from school?

How do I build a cluster?
How long do I need to 'sign up' for?
How long do I need to 'sign up' for?

At the moment we are at the "expressing interest" stage, but things are moving quickly. As we move forward there will be a pack of support for anyone seeking to begin a cluster.



want to know more?

If you want to know more, to be involved, to become a Learning Cluster, or even to enquire from a national government position, please mail us now. We will stay in touch and answer your questions.

We will not use your email to sell you anything, or to sell you.



this page created June 24, 2016 by Prof Stephen Heppell, and last updated on Thursday, May 14, 2020 19:07