To say events in the year, 2020, were unanticipated would be an understatement. Not even astrological horoscopes or fortunetellers could have foreseen unprecedented moments humanity encountered. As we continue to deliberate the rise and falls in 2020, one of the most significant learnings that came our way was the need to keep up with technology. We, especially, witnessed the education sector caught off guard when learning went online. Fortunately, this was, however, not the case in LEAD's own schools.
LEAD's own and partner schools, prepped with contemporary technology, made the most out of the unforeseen circumstances. In an exclusive interview with Nitin Jindal, the Vice President of Own Schools, we learn how gracefully LEAD experts handled this crisis.
1. How long have you been with LEAD, and what has been your role for Own Schools? Also, what do we mean by 'Own Schools' and what sets them apart?
I started my journey with LEAD two years back as a Vice President for the Own school vertical. We currently have four own schools in Taluka areas of Solapur District, including the one in Mangaon, Raigad district. These schools have an affordable fee structure ranging between 15K to 30K. Earlier, they faced challenges similar to schools in tier 3 and tier 4 towns. For example, teachers lacked experience, parents didn't have the money for school fees, and students lacked language fluency. To resolve these issues, we first provided LEAD's services in our schools before releasing it to our partner schools.
2. How many 'Own Schools' do we have and how many teachers and students are a part of these schools?
We have four own schools with over 1500 students and 96 teachers. These schools are in Mangaon, Karmala, Kurduwadi and Akkalkot.
3. How have these parents accepted online learning?
Initially, our school parents were sceptical and apprehensive with online classes. However, parents' orientation sessions encouraged them to understand our techniques better and made them feel more comfortable.
4. How have 'Own schools' been able to function despite the lockdown? What are our teachers, parents and LEAD teams doing differently?
We have followed three steps to overcome the impediments during these lockdowns:
We kept all communication channels open with parents. It helped reduce their anxiety about their child's education. Amidst the lockdown, we did parents' orientation through online media to discuss how the learning will continue while minimising learning loss for children.
We retained all the teachers during this period. These educators tracked students' attendance and regularly followed up with parents of children who skipped online classes. There were also weekly targets for attendance improvement at the school level, and parents' counselling sessions with the coordinators and principal's help.
Meanwhile, children, with good attendance, were acknowledged through WhatsApp groups to make them feel good. All daily activities performed excellently by students were shared on the class WhatsApp groups and Facebook via photos/videos to encourage and motivate other students.
teachers regularly conducted doubt solving sessions with students for better conceptual clarity. The supervisors also organised remedial sessions for children who were still facing difficulties in order to bridge learning gaps. Simultaneously, Student Led Conference (SLC) was held to give them a larger platform to showcase their work and boost confidence.
5. What is your take on Hybrid Learning? Is it the future of schooling?
Online-offline learning is here to stay for long. The rising COVID-19 cases have discouraged the schools from functioning normally. With schools being allowed to open only for a short duration, it is imperative to work on an online-offline model.
6. How are parents reacting to your school's performance? Are they happy with online learning?
Keeping in mind the safety of children, we ensured they completed tests at home. Parents were comfortable with this process. Constant doubt-solving sessions and remedials have satisfied parents, who are happy with LEAD's methodologies.
7. Fee collection has been a considerable challenge in COVID-19. How has your school been able to collect more than 70% fees?
We initially took care of student engagement and learning before talking to parent about fees. We revised our fee structure and gave them an option to pay every month. We extended OTP (One-Time Payment) discount to parents till November who wanted to pay the complete fees. The online payment facility also helped them in this process.
On the other hand, the town hall meetings to address parents' concerns regarding compensation brought more clarity on how learning would continue across LEAD powered schools. We also did a rigorous follow-up with parents as per the dates given by them for fee deposit.
8. What is the plan ahead? Can this learning be applied across all the LEAD powered schools?
Yes, we have already started applying these learnings from our Own Schools across all our partner schools. We are planning to incorporate online-offline learning from the next session start date i.e. April 1 2020.
To support the parents of children studying in LEAD powered schools across India, we have designed a LEAD School Student & Parent App. This app provides uninterrupted learning for students via live and recorded classes. With a whole section dedicated to parents, they can track their child's reports, attendance and do much more. However, to get these benefits, every parent must log into the app. Learn how it is done with this video.
LEAD is helping children become future-ready. To enrol your child in a LEAD powered school: Fill the admission form now