Thomas Appleby Journalist

Now working for The Guardian, and with aspirations to run his very own magazine, Thomas Appleby shares his story of overcoming the challenges of mainstream education and thriving with the support of InterHigh.

What was/were the reason(s) you joined InterHigh?

I originally joined InterHigh due to missing out on a proper education, due to the fact that both students and teachers were bullying me at previous schools.

What did you enjoy the most about learning in a virtual environment?

Personally, if I were to pick one thing I liked the most about learning in a virtual environment, it would be the fact the teachers always seemed to be there if you needed any help at all!

What skills did you learn along the way?

During my Interhigh journey, I did learn a lot of academic skills from the likes of the acronym 'PEEL' which was used for doing essays. Funnily enough, I also did learn a lot of social skills too. There were several times in class where I would have to work with a fellow classmate and produce a PowerPoint presentation together!

How did InterHigh support socialising with peers?

InterHigh highly supported socialising with peers, these included the likes of InterHigh having its own social network site 'MyInterHigh’, school discussion forums, common room events every Friday (these included from school plays to parties) and of course the InterHigh weekends/ InterHigh proms. With all these available, I had plenty of ways to socialise with peers.

Did you notice a difference in the way InterHigh teachers engage with students in comparison to those working in a mainstream physical classroom?

I did but in a good way. InterHigh teachers engagement with the students is better in my personal opinion than the typical engagement with the teachers at mainstream school due to the simple fact InterHigh teachers would support you practically 24/7. There was times on an occasion where after class, I still wouldn't understand something completely and would have to email my teacher and they would reply breaking it all down. It did not matter if it was day or night, you always get a response - you just can't get that support at mainstream schools!

Please share one of your favourite moments during your time at the school?

Picking one favourite moment is hard, as I have so many! There's the likes of InterHigh ball (2013) and I 'famously' made a certain entrance at the hall. However, my favourite has got to be my very first day of InterHigh, just the feeling of being so welcomed and everyone being so nice.

Did you experience any challenges during your time at InterHigh, and if so, how did you overcome them?

I didn't exactly experience any major challenges; I had a mental challenge at first when I joined worrying I wasn't going to be able to learn anything from online schooling, but I got over that obstacle very quickly.

Did you feel ready and supported to take the next step in your educational journey after finishing InterHigh?

Honestly, yes and no. What I mean by that is that is yes, I felt supported, but was I ready? No. Unfortunately when the next step was supposed to happen, I hadn't not long ago lost my beloved mother and I just needed some time out from my educational journey to grieve. InterHigh were, throughout my grief process, so supportive of me and when I was ready for the next educational journey, they showed me the way.

Do you think more children could benefit from this way of learning?

Oh definitely! No matter what background a child comes from, I can 100% say a child could benefit from learning this way.

Were your parents more involved in your learning/progress after joining InterHigh?

Both my parents were involved in my progress at InterHigh, they supported and encouraged several times during my time period at InterHigh.

What would you say to other students who may never have considered a virtual environment?

It's a great opportunity to be able to learn wherever you may happen to be in the world! Better yet, you can turn up to class in your PJs... how cool is that?!

Do you think virtual lessons should be more commonplace, if so, why?

I definitely think virtual lessons should be more commonplace, due to the simple fact they are so practical. Virtual lessons gives the students the opportunity to be able learn without having the typical mainstream school distractions.

After leaving InterHigh what route did you take?

After leaving InterHigh, I decided to host a sports event for kids in my local area and raised over £500 for charity. Shortly after that, I went to college for two years doing Media Studies!

What are you doing now?

Currently I'm on the verge of becoming a news reporter for the guardian. It's something I've sort of always wanted to; you could say it’s a dream job.

What are your career aspirations and do you feel like you got the right support to help them achieve those goals too?

My own career aspiration is to one day have run my very own newspaper or magazine. I feel I have the right support to achieve this, but for now I'm happy working with The Guardian.

Any other observations or feedback you’d like to provide?

Thank you for everyone's support during my time and even after my time at InterHigh, what I mean by everyone ... I do mean everyone; from teachers, students, admin and tech support, through to Jacqui and Paul - just everyone! I definitely do think when eventually it comes to that point in the future where my own children will need a strong, fantastic education, I will be sending them this way!

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