Delivering Seamless Education Despite Barriers

Delivering Seamless Education Despite Barriers | Jacqueline Daniell

Jacqueline Daniell

CEO of Wey Education plc

Jacqueline Daniell is the driving force behind Wey Education. As Chief Executive Officer, she has a demonstrated history of working in the e-learning industry. Her astuteness in business planning and development is coupled with her strong sense of how to translate technology for the user’s benefit. Never being comfortable with the status quo, she challenges herself, her executive team, and the organization, in general, to always improve the experience Wey Education delivers to its customers and families. She says, “You can’t practice being a CEO, you can only learn the theory and learn on the job.” 

While Jacqueline started her working career in design and construction and then later in physical infrastructure master plan development, she specialized in law and land use. Yet, by the twist of fate, she landed in education. In 2003, she and her husband needed to consider how to best support their eldest daughter in her ambitions for Oxford or Cambridge. Meanwhile, broadband was being rolled out in Wales via a high-speed higher education network, and Jacqueline felt that an “internet school” could be a real solution for children not thriving in their local school or not being entirely suited to the more traditional education environment available. Once children fail to thrive at their local school, families have a very limited number of options open to them. So, she set about designing a website and building a learning platform and, in 2005, started InterHigh school as a side project. By early 2006, she had 60 pupils using this online service.

One morning after hearing a message left by a distraught mother crying on the phone for help for her daughter, Jacqueline decided to quit her job and focus on InterHigh full time. She resolved to build a school using technology to deliver a world-class education to any family who required it; she hasn’t looked back since. The opportunity for young people to be able to take back control of the environment that they learn in, to have school fit around their needs, to give them back time to pursue their chosen interests, to learn at their own pace and level are the principle pain points the business initially set out to address. As the business grew, it became clear that more and more young people were struggling with a ‘one size fits all’ approach to learning. The idea that everyone learns best by assembling children of the same age at certain times of the day, days of the week, weeks of the year in a room where teachers lead them through a fairly fixed set of subjects is outmoded.

Eight hundred and sixty-two million children have been out of school due to COVID-19. Out of the 4.73 million children at school in the UK, a very small number have been able to continue studying. However, Wey Education students have continued to study full time, uninterrupted, thanks to its virtual schools. While Wey currently has over 3,000 students studying across both InterHigh and Academy21 (Wey Education’s alternative online provision), this is a fraction of the platforms’ capacity, designed to scale up easily to 100,000 children.

During the first lockdown at a more micro level, Jacqueline recognized the immense pressure put on both parents and teachers and so offered all Wey staff complimentary access to InterHigh to provide additional opportunities for their children and ensure they didn’t miss out on vital learning. Other families and schools impacted by COVID-19 were also able to take advantage of Wey’s services by joining for short periods to suit or taking specific ‘Learning on Demand’ courses to suit their needs.

In 2020, Wey Education was also granted government funding as part of the Innovate UK program to create a virtual summer school. The summer school provided access to high-quality online and virtual educational experiences to students affected by COVID-19 through online micropayments. The project was the first UK Virtual Summer School of its kind, combining full-time study courses, half-term course trails, and shorter learning experiences of 1-4 weeks, where students had online access to learning on demand for quick bite learning, catchup courses, study skills, and revision courses. Students could attend modules in study skills such as digital literacy, communications, and collaboration; subject-focused study including Maths, English, Humanities, and the Sciences; all with a focus upon developing 21st-century skills and interactive activities including virtual field trips and virtual lab experiments. The objective was to reduce the growing attainment gap, ensure students had access to high-quality teaching and learning opportunities, and make sure they didn’t fall behind their peers.

Jacqueline has ensured digital infrastructure, successful teaching and learning strategies, ICT skills, a collaboration between parents and school, student and parent wellbeing, the hiring patterns, assessment, and most importantly, safeguarding, can all meet the needs of the new normal. This is something Wey Education caters to; providing a safe and secure platform for students to ask questions, not be concerned about falling behind their peers, and build confidence in their abilities. The virtual campus has libraries, social areas, study areas, hobby areas, enrichment programs, and a comprehensive pastoral care team and package that provides a confidential channel for students to discuss all aspects of their lives, whether that be matters inside or outside school. Students also have access to special interest courses, clubs, and societies and can socialize with peers in a virtual common room or via the secure school social media platform to help support their wellbeing and ensure they never feel ‘isolated’ or alone.

Wey Education is working towards virtual and augmented reality environments specifically designed for younger pupils, including gamification for the days to come. “We are making further developments in our platform keeping the learner experience delightful and ultra-responsive to their needs with live dashboards that are intuitive to how the pupil uses it,” says Jacqueline. “We will be building a customer service App and have designed a multi-channel Customer Service Experience. This means customers only need to ‘tell us once’. We will ensure you can access the services you require through the quickest and most efficient access channel for the customer, whether that is chat, voice, or digital.” This will allow customers to share their positive experiences and feel valued customers who are part of our community, so a unified multi-channel customer care experience. Following the government’s announcement on educational recovery programs for students and working in collaboration with the education sector to deliver summer schools, Wey Education is poised to be adequately supporting schools and parents both through and beyond the pandemic.

Delivering Seamless Education Despite Barriers | Jacqueline Daniell

“Jacqueline has ensured that digital infrastructure, successful teaching and learning strategies, ICT skills, a collaboration between parents and school, student and parent wellbeing, the hiring patterns, assessment, and most importantly, safeguarding, can all meet the needs of the new normal.”

Jacqueline Daniell

CEO of Wey Education plc

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