What was/were the reason(s) you joined InterHigh?
I joined Interhigh because I felt more comfortable studying from home after experiencing bullying at school and being diagnosed with depression and anxiety at age 14. I also joined Interhigh because it was the most reliable and interactive online school I could find.
What did you enjoy the most about learning in a virtual environment?
I enjoyed the flexibility. The fact that all lessons were recorded and that everything was online was so freeing in the sense that I felt like I had more control over my life for the first time in a long time. If I wanted to have a break, I could. If I wanted to go out for a walk or cycle to clear my head, I could. There were no teachers breathing down my neck and no other classmates teasing or causing trouble in the classroom. The flexibility of learning online definitely impacted how my life turned out to be - I started working and travelling alongside my studies at just 14 and therefore developed an idea of the career I wanted to pursue very early on.
What skills did you learn along the way?
I learnt independence in my learning - not to be so dependent on others when it came to my learning. I found myself doing research outside of school on topics that we had studied - I developed a genuine interest in my studies and I believe that's because, when I started studying online, school became about learning, not about popularity, playground drama and peer pressure, which are the usual things that shape our experience at school. My social life thrived - I was able to make friendships with other kids across the world (I have a close friend I met through my German A-level course - we go to the same online uni and meet up when we can, even though we live in different countries) but also, thanks to the flexibility of my online studies, I was able to travel and made friends all across the world at the same time.
How did InterHigh support socialising with peers?
There were many extra-curricular clubs where you could interact and collaborate with other students and also virtual common rooms where you could chat with others.
Did you notice a difference in the way InterHigh teachers engage with students in comparison to those working in a mainstream physical classroom?
Definitely - they were so much more welcoming, encouraging and affirming. I don't believe I ever once had a negative interaction with an Interhigh teacher. It was so drastically different than my experience in a mainstream physical classroom - I was used to teachers yelling and doling out detention every five minutes. I think I gained a lot more respect for adult authority figures once I joined Interhigh - because there was a mutual respect between the teachers and us as students and that was lacking in the physical schools I had previously attended.
Please share one of your favourite moments during your time at the school?
German lessons were always so fun. My teacher was so attentive and helpful and we were only two students in the classroom - so we were able to move quickly through the course material and help each other. We had a lot of fun!
Did you experience any challenges during your time at InterHigh, and if so, how did you overcome them?
I would say make an effort to reach out to the school community and the other students because getting to know those lovely people is truly a blessing. Unlike most online schools, Interhigh offers so many extracurricular classes. You can join the writing group, the debate group or go to the common room. My classmates and I have a Whatsapp Group and we help each other with homework. Chatting with fellow homeschoolers from across the world is such a privilege and a learning opportunity. I love hearing the other students’ stories. Another tip I have would be take advantage of the creative freedom you’re given! Being in this online school doesn’t mean you need to be stuck to a computer all day. I love making crafts and filming videos for homework assignments. You have the time and you have the tools since you’re studying from home. You can have so much more fun learning with Interhigh!
Did you feel ready and supported to take the next step in your educational journey after finishing InterHigh?
Yes, I definitely knew that I wanted to take a gap year, as I had acquired quite a taste for the freedom I had had while studying with Interhigh, and felt very supported to take that step.
Do you think more children could benefit from this way of learning?
Definitely - it would allow for more independence and freedom for children - their life shouldn't be education, it should be life AND education. I feel that brick-and-mortar schools don't provide this freedom, flexibility and individualised learning that is beneficial for kids.
Were your parents more involved in your learning/progress after joining InterHigh?
They actually were less involved when I joined Interhigh since I had such good teachers and a good system that kept me accountable - they just had to check my grades, my dad occasionally helped me with an essay when I asked and my mum booked all my exam slots as an external candidate but otherwise, it was bliss independence!
What would you say to other students who may never have considered a virtual environment?
It is one of the best decisions you could make - if you want to experience life properly. Life shouldn't be spent in a cramped classroom - it should be a life of discovery and enjoyment and you can attain that flexibility and freedom by joining Interhigh. It is a lot less stressful than normal school and it is so nice to be able to study from the comfort of your own home.
Do you think virtual lessons should be more commonplace, if so, why?
Yes, definitely, because it is important that more parents and families can learn about them and consider them as an option for their children. Some children will prefer to stay in a regular school but for many other kids, it'll be the perfect environment for them to learn in a more flexible, individualised manner.
After leaving InterHigh what route did you take?
I took a gap year to focus on my acting career and creative projects. I spent my days writing, creating and travelling before Covid interrupted my plans! Eventually I realised I missed studying and it was a no-brainer to me that I should apply to join the Open University - which is an online university that is similar to Interhigh in quite a few ways. My education at Interhigh made it easy for me to settle into the Open University - it's just like a more independent, adult version of Interhigh, the perfect next step!
I'm studying German, Spanish and Italian with the Open University and working as an actor on the side. I recently shot a TV drama in Yorkshire and I have almost finished the first draft of my novel. Every day brings something new - I just allow my creativity to shape my day - if I feel like songwriting, doing crafts or filming a project, I'll do that and some days are more structured if I have assignments due or self tapes from my acting agent to film. I founded my own film production company with my brother recently - Lally Films - and we are producing several short films at the moment. This is our latest short film: https://vimeo.com/520689329
What are your career aspirations and do you feel like you got the right support to help them achieve those goals too?
I would like to work multiple jobs in my lifetime. I have been working as an actor since I was 15 but it is an incredibly tough and slow industry so I can't strictly say 'actor' (that'd be like saying I want to be president in some aspects!). I'd like to be an author, a professional declutterer and work at a rescue animal shelter - in no strict order! I'm not interested in a more financially stable career that I won't enjoy or have any passion for - it is important to me to live a life that is rich with experiences, not money! I definitely feel I got the right support to achieve those goals - Interhigh is all about flexibility and freedom and I graduated with those two values a firm foundation in my life.