Online school offers free places for displaced Ukrainian teens

An online school is to offer free, full time education to teenagers displaced by the Russian invasion of Ukraine.

As UK households are offered the opportunity to open their homes to displaced Ukrainian families, Minerva’s Virtual Academy said it would offer places for a number of young people between the ages of 13 and 15. 

The school will make places available to 10 children, who will receive full-time teaching in up to nine subjects as well as one-to-one mentoring, wellbeing and, crucially, mental health support. 

And CEO Hugh Viney called on the Government to provide financial support to help schools like Minerva offer more places.

Launched in January 2021, Minerva’s Virtual Academy is an online independent school which caters for 10 to 18-year-olds. The school delivers British education to children across the world.

Hugh said: “We have all been deeply saddened by the ongoing events in Ukraine and we felt compelled to do something to help.

“School offers a sense of stability, something that the thousands of children who have been forced from their homes, away from everything that is familiar to them simply don’t have. It’s not just about education, this sense of normality, in a time of such uncertainty could be vital in helping these children to process something that no child should ever have to.

“We hope that by offering these places, we can ensure that the children we are able to help are not left behind in their education and that we can offer a sense of familiarity and community that will help them to feel more settled in their home from home here in the UK.”

But, said Hugh, the support that individual organisations can offer is not enough, and with the Homes for Ukraine scheme offering the potential for tens of thousands of families to enter the UK, Government support is vital to ensure that thousands of Ukrainian children don’t fall through the net.

“At the moment, we have the capacity to offer these 10 places, but with financial support from the Government we, and other online schools like Minerva, could offer help to so many more children.

“Finding local school places for potentially tens of thousands of children is a lengthy and often complicated process which could lead to even more disruption for families who have already suffered so much. Our model means that no matter where in the UK children are based, we can teach them without the boundaries of catchment areas or other geographical requirements. 

“By part funding school places through online schools, the Government would not only ensure that these children can enter into the British education system quicker, but in a way that is more efficient, more cost effective and puts much less pressure on local state schools whose resources are already stretched.”

Much more than just virtual lessons, Minerva offers many of the same elements as a bricks and mortar school, with weekly assemblies, after-school clubs and school trips to ensure that students are still part of a community, but with the added flexibility of learning from home.

For more information on Minerva’s Virtual Academy or for families looking for support, visit www.minervavirtual.com 

Photo by  Julia M Cameron from Pexels.  

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