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Wey Education plc

Pearson launches virtual A-levels to battle teacher shortage

An exam board will launch its first “virtual” language A-level so pupils can earn their qualifications online despite the shortage of teachers of modern foreign languages.

Pearson will offer an online Spanish A-level from next September, in which pupils get access to tutors, resources and tests online. There are more languages to follow, Schools Week can exclusively reveal.

Other virtual learning groups have reported a rise in schools signing up their pupils, and one such company has enjoyed a hike of more than 800 per cent.

Pupils are entered to improve their grades, if they are struggling with a phobia of school, or to study languages their schools can’t fund, Schools Week has found.

A spokesperson for Pearson said it is offering the Spanish course in the wake of its success in teaching 70,000 pupils via online courses in the USA.

The A-level will also tackle the “sincere challenges some schools are facing in finding MFL teachers”.

Wey Education PLC (LON:WEY), another UK company which delivers online learning, has a network of online “schools” including Interhigh, which offers GCSEs and A-levels in French, Spanish and German.

Pupils taking these qualifications increased by 16 per cent this year, said a spokesperson.

Meanwhile, the number of schools and local authorities signing pupils up for online qualifications at Wey has risen by more than 800 per cent – from five in 2015-16, to 46 this year.

Paula Reynolds, a business development manager at Wey Ecademy, the arm of the company that sells its courses to schools, said school-refusing pupils were a “massive” factor in the rise.

Schools are using online qualifications as a way of ensuring anxious pupils keep learning at home while they remain on their school roll, she said.

A pupil in this situation gets a timetable of online lessons and must log in to watch and interact with a tutor. They need a headset and microphone to talk, and can type responses too.

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