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Last Updated: Wednesday, 29 June 2005, 13:06 GMT 14:06 UK
Families enrol for online school
Paul Daniell at his computer
Interhigh is preparing for registration with the assembly
A physics teacher said he has had a good response to plans for a private secondary school over the internet to enable children to be taught at home.

Already 40 families have signed up for the Powys-based InterHigh, which is due to start in September.

Paul Daniell, 42, from Crickhowell, claimed it could support pupils who either cannot or do not attend normal classes, including victims of bullying.

But unions say pupils could miss out on the social aspect of education.

The 165-a-month service hopes to start teaching at the start of the new academic year.

Mr Daniell said the online school was mainly targeting pupils who are not currently attending classes - either because of disability or bullying.

He said teachers would deliver up to seven subjects using video conferencing technology.

"Many of the children we are targeting are already not attending class - this is a service which helps to fill in the gaps," he said.

Those signing up so far also include forces families and ex-pats.

My family is living proof that home education works. My youngest daughter Cornellia has just graduated with a first class honours degree in Chemistry from Bangor University
Edwina Theunissen

But Geraint Davies, of the NAS/UWT in Wales has said while it could bring some benefits, he had concerns.

"It's a question of children mixing with peers and other students," he said.

"School is not just about academic learning, it is about learning to deal with life."

Julie Lyddon, a single parent from Bridgend, has been considering taking her nine year old daughter Rosie-May out of school in the summer but is worried about the financial implications.

"What Rosie-May gets in school doesn't feed her, it doesn't nourish her, it doesn't stretch her," said Julie.

"I'd love to bring her out of school, but there's only so much you can do, in terms of keeping a roof over our heads and food on the table. As far as I am aware there is no financial help for educating your children at home.

"Just hearing about this new development is very exciting and it makes me feel quite supported."

'Living proof'

Home education has become increasingly popular in recent years.

In South Wales, numbers rose by 18% in the last 12 months, according to the support group Education Otherwise.

The group estimates that around 200 families across Wales are teaching their children themselves.

It says over the last five years, the motivation has moved on from parents looking for lifestyle alternatives.

"I find almost all of my calls are from parents of children who are being bullied at school," said Edwina Theunissen, the Welsh representative of Education Otherwise, who taught her three children herself.

"My family is living proof that home education works. My youngest daughter Cornellia has just graduated with a first class honours degree in Chemistry from Bangor University."

She was taught at home until she attended sixth form college in Wrexham.

Interhigh is preparing for registration with the Welsh Assembly Government and hopes to be teaching 11-17 year olds in September.

We asked for your views on online schools. Below is a balanced selection of comments.

For those who are concerned about social skills - it is quite possible to get these skills elsewhere. Try local community clubs in sports, dram and music. Schools are told by politicians they should be everything to everybody - they don't have to believe such propaganda. Great idea, well done mate!
Jack, Essex

One draw back is that the children that's taught via the internet . Will sadly miss out on important social skills that will be needed in the workplace. The governing bodies will not face the responsibilities towards the bullied and disabled children, Once again the problem will continue to be a problem
Jeff , Newbridge, Wales

I think its an excellent idea. Bullying is more detrimental to a child's social development than not attending the classes.

At least they will still want to play outside with others... if they are not being bullied in the classes.

Also if you were able to mix the age groups in the classes then special children with needing extra help or kids who are more advanced would be taught more to their needs than at main stream.....

this may even be an alternative to the class bullies who abuse teachers.
Julie, Cardiff

Online is a good supplement to the education system. However some children learn through reading, some through audio, and some through doing. In most cases a combination is required.

Interaction with other students and teachers is an important factor. More than ever our children are undertaking activities that are non team orientated. (eg PS2, Computers etc). This will hinder them in later life when those skills are needed most.

The internet is a great tool. But it needs to be used wisely. Doing so without due consideration for its wider aspects will come back to haunt us all in years to come.
R Rees, Canada (Expat)

A brilliant idea and Paul Daniell should be given funds to help him develop the site. Geraint Davies, of the NAS/UWT is narrow minded when he think school is the best place for children to be taught - it's a terrifying place for many students and we don't even have enough science or maths teachers in our state schools to teach our children -This is the real world - worried parents try home education is has many benefits.
Vera Blandy, London

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