- Academic and emotional support combined in ‘whole student’-focused platform
- YPO research says that 79% of education professionals believe that the future of education is hybrid
- Early West Midlands pilot programme demonstrates students and teachers are embracing the platform
YPO, one of the UK’s largest publicly owned buying organisations is collaborating with a new EdTech tutoring platform, askOLA, to help address education challenges exacerbated by the Covid-19 pandemic.
Developed by GLUU, askOLA is an online, on-demand alternative to private tutoring designed to support the whole student, both academically and emotionally. Through the platform, available on desktop, tablets and mobile devices, young people can access professional academic support from online learning assistants (OLAs). Each OLAs is a qualified and vetted individual who delivers personalised academic coaching in key subjects – English, maths, and science – as well as wellbeing support for young people aged 11 to 16, via interactive white boards and a live chat function on askOLA.
By providing on-demand support at peak times (3pm – 9pm on weekdays and 9am – 9pm at weekends) askOLA aims to address challenges faced by the education sector including helping young people who lost learning time throughout the pandemic and providing extra support to young people who are at risk of falling behind their peers, and relieving pressure on teachers. If needed, OLAs can point young people to a series of helpful wellbeing resources, or, if there is a more serious problem, they can direct them to professional mental health support through a partner platform, Kooth.
Simon Hill, Managing Director, YPO, said, “At YPO, we pride ourselves on being a helping hand to schools, whether they need school supplies like glue sticks or new computers, or contract support to procure energy, furniture, and transport. Over the past several years, the education sector has faced numerous challenges, including lockdowns and increased pressure on teachers.
Our own research has shown that the pandemic exacerbated these challenges and has put additional pressure on teachers, teaching staff and parents. There is no one way to deliver the education our young people deserve, but we believe that innovative, thoughtful EdTech tools, developed and supported by both the public and private sector, can play an important role in supporting students and teachers, which is why we’ve chosen to collaborate with askOLA.”
RESEARCH SUGGESTS PANDEMIC HAD PERMANENTLY SHIFTED EDUCATION LANDSCAPE
YPO’s research, published in a report entitled, Education in a post-Covid world, found that 79% of education professionals surveyed believe that the Covid pandemic would have a lasting impact on teaching, resulting in a hybrid approach that combines traditional and technology-led teaching methods.
It also found that mental health for both staff and students was a key concern across the sector, with 64% of parents saying they were concerned about their children’s mental health and wellbeing and supporting staff’s mental health cited as a top challenge by schools.
askOLA was specifically designed to combine supporting young people’s academic needs and an increased need for wellbeing support.
Christine Major, CEO, GLUU, said, “In the past few years, teachers and students have been through a lot, and we thought we saw a need to increase capacity in the system to better support learning outside of the classroom, and to reduce teacher workload. We are seeing askOLA deliver against these ambitions, and we are now setting out to scale the service in the UK and internationally.”
STUDENTS AND TEACHERS HAVE EMBRACED askOLA IN WEST MIDLANDS PILOT
A term-long pilot programme of askOLA was launched at the Shireland Collegiate Academy Trust (S-CAT) in February. The pilot saw 353 puplis use askOLA in the first four weeks, and since then:
Sir Mark Grundy, CEO of Shireland Collegiate Academy Trust, said, “We’ve been waiting for something like askOLA. The combination of tutoring and wellbeing advice is so important and will help children recover from the pandemic, a task we will be focused on for some time to come. It’s amazing for our pupils to have this kind of dedicated support at their fingertips, and it relieves pressure on our teachers, so they can focus on delivering the best possible teaching in the classroom.”