As reported by BBC news, more pupils will be taught remotely via video link technology, under plans to extend a scheme for 14 to 19-year-olds
The E-sgol project aims to link pupils in remote areas in Wales so they can access a greater range of subjects and specialist teachers. Launched in Ceredigion in 2018, it will now be rolled out in schools in Powys and Carmarthenshire.
The concept was first adopted in Scotland, with a project allowing interactive teaching to take place across several sites in remote areas, such as the Outer Hebrides. It uses video technology to connect classrooms, so pupils from one school can join classes at others and teachers can give live feedback.
So far, 102 pupils have studied 18 subjects in Wales, including further mathematics, criminology, politics and Mandarin, with lessons available in English and Welsh.
Dr Lewis Pryce, a maths teacher at Llanfyllin High School in Powys, where the scheme has been running, said any apprehensions he had initially had since evaporated. “By now, I see no difference between my video lessons and my traditional lessons,” he said.
Gareth Lanagan, an E-sgol co-ordinator, said there had been general ‘scepticism’ of video teaching. However, he believed the project had shown it could provide a ‘sliding-doors moment’ for pupils studying subjects to which they might not have otherwise had access.
“What we were finding was there’s a bit of a postcode lottery at the moment in terms of the subjects that are available to kids in different parts of Wales, but this is balancing that out,” he added.
Wales’ Education Minister Kirsty Williams said the ‘innovative’ scheme had made ‘a real difference’.
“Taking action to support rural schools has been one of my top priorities over this government’s term,” she said.
“E-sgol is another example of how we’re ensuring equity for pupils, regardless of where they live.”