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November 19th 2001 - 15:10 GMT

Lifeline For Excluded Kids

The following is an addendum to our News Story, Lifeline For Excluded Kids
A case study of The Satellite School by Heather Frost on behalf of BECTa (British Educational Communications and Technology Agency) for the National Grid for Learning. gratefully acknowledges the permission of BECTa to reproduce this study

The Distance Learning Project - SATELLITE SCHOOL - a venture managed by Present (a Registered Charity)

Here, Heather Frost describes a service which is designed to deliver home tuition services to all those unable to attend mainstream school. The use of ICT has vastly improved the educational experience for this group of pupils.

Aims of the project

The Satellite School system offers a fully integrated hospital/home teaching service.

The Satellite School Education System is delivered to students with the aim of approaching as near as possible the requirements of the National Curriculum, given the individual situation of the student.

Target group

Satellite School offers the Satellite School Education System as a total package to meet the educational needs of those children who, for a variety of reasons are not receiving full-time school education.

Potential pupils may be long-stay patients in hospital through chronic illness or injury, or may be convalescing at home. Alternatively they may be school - phobics or children who have been excluded from their normal school, or children whose parents prefer home education.

Pupils may be at home, in hospital or other location. Satellite School offers education to any child from 8 years old to 16+, 5 days per week. The contract for the pupil's education may be with a local education authority, a private or special school or home, or with the pupil's parents.

How learning is delivered

Before any student is accepted into the system, an assessment will be made of the student's needs and ability to benefit from the Satellite School system. This assessment will include where appropriate, interviews with the child, parents and previous school professionals. Children will be accepted on the basis of a minimum contractual period of a month renewable monthly.

The shortest contracts will benefit the students, in terms of acquiring or improving IT skills and regaining the will and motivation to learn. File transfer between students and tutors is carried out by e-mail using attachment facilities. The system centres on the child being taught and tested with the assistance of a personal computer, either a desktop or notebook (laptop) model. Computer materials will be selected according to the student's need, to include regular assessment and activity worksheets plus resource study materials. Additional educational materials, books, worksheets etc will be chosen for the student according to their curriculum and course needs.

The student is not expected to spend long periods of time in front of the computer screen, but will integrate the computer work with off-computer activity, including reading. The student will be encouraged wherever possible to develop and make use of research skills, involving access to materials off the computer. Project work and field work will also be part of the education program depending on the student's situation. Coursework skills will be developed and where appropriate, the Internet may supplement conventional sources of information.

The pupil's IT skills will be developed as quickly as possible to enable him or her to gain maximum benefit from the system, however an initial lack of IT skills will not delay the start of the education program because of the flexibility of the integration of on- and off- computer work.

Each school day the student follows a programme of lessons received from his/her tutors by e-mail. All pupils will have a personalised study programme with daily or weekly tutor contact. The student may type his or her work on the computer but will also need to use pen and paper for handwritten work, sketches and diagrams. The student will then use a scanner to create .gif images of all their handwritten work and manually-completed worksheets. At the end of the working day, the student sends all his/her work files by e-mail (using attachment facilities) to the tutor.

The tutor will monitor progress, mark assignments and identify difficulties, setting a programme of work for the following week. The student will be encouraged to develop his or her own preferred way of working within the daily or weekly requirements of the programme, to promote self-reliance and self-motivation. Support will be available from the tutor if difficulties arise.

The student may get the benefit of instant feedback from some learning programs on the computer. The student's work will be assessed and marked by the tutor and returned normally within two days.

A regular progress report is sent to the pupil, the pupil's parents and the contracting authority. The staff will be in liaison with the local education, social services and health staff regularly to review the pupil's health, general well-being and educational progress in order to make any necessary adjustments to the pupil's teaching programme, and schedule any necessary visits.

The emphasis of The Satellite School's courses is on flexibility and individual teaching by qualified teachers using computers, fax and e-mail. In addition to subject teachers, students have a co-ordinating tutor making sure that links are made between courses, providing continuity and extra support. Students study at their own pace and at the times when they feel best able to concentrate. As work is set at a level to suit each child and progress is clear, students feel encouraged and motivated.

Study range:

KS2, full KS3, KS4 (GCSE). Subjects offered at KS3 and KS4 include English, Maths, Sciences, History, Geography, Child Development, ICT, French, German and Spanish. Preparation for SATS and Common Entrance Examinations GCSE - International GCSE or GCE O level. Preparation for AS levels and A levels in association with the National Extension College.

Management issues

The Satellite School does not offer correspondence courses. The distance learning programme is worked out for each individual - usually using the same course textbooks used by their classmates in school. It is therefore vital that the pupil has access to a computer and internet access in order to download lessons and return completed work. Provision of equipment and telephone lines are the responsibility of the client.

Where a number of pupils are enrolled with the Satellite School from the same PRU, ordinary school or hospital school it is possible to arrange for all lessons to be sent to one email address and marked work returned as a batch. This arrangement needs co-ordinating by an LSA or teacher but it is a cost effective way of providing additional subjects where there is a small teaching team.

Children learning at home and not attending a school or PRU should continue to receive a regular visits from a teacher. The Satellite School is intended to be supplementary, or compensatory, provision.


The following are required:

o Multimedia PC
o Modem and Internet connection
o Printer
o Scanner
o Microsoft Word, Excel and image processing software

Other software, such as DTP packages and drawing programs, may be helpful for the student but are not essential.

o Pupils in hospital or expected to transfer between home and hospital during their period with Satellite School will normally require a notebook (laptop) model.
o All pupils will require adequate course materials eg books, worksheets, CD-Rom programs and reference works to allow a full course of study. Other computer and non-computer materials will be needed from time to time to assist with coursework and practical work.

Parents or the local education authority will be responsible for bearing the cost of telephone calls to Satellite School's tutors or Internet connection calls.

Satellite School normally recommends a fifteen-hour study week for a student on a full programme, studying up to eight subjects. The average charge for this full-time programme is 135 per week up to the end of KS3 (age 14) and 150 per week (As at April 2001) for students preparing for GCSE or IGCSE examinations. The programme is VAT exempt. Additional costs are those of textbooks and examination fees for external students.

Quotations are provided individually for students requiring a part-time programme and for schools and units that enroll a number of students in a school year.

Contact details

Address: The Satellite School, Regus House, Herald Way, Pegasus Business Park, Castle Donington, Derbyshire DE74 2TZ
Contact name: Dennis Ohwariovbe
Telephone: 01332 638599
Web Site URL:

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