Wey Virtual School

On Tuesday I covered Wey Education’s press release concerning the receipt of funding to create a virtual summer school.

Since then there have been some significant developments.

Detail of B2C offering

The following mini-site appears to have gone live on Tuesday:

https://interhigh.co.uk/wey-virtual-school/

At this time the above does not appear to be linked from anywhere [edit: except for a couple of Facebook posts from Tuesday] (although “Learning on Demand” is a pre-existing service). The offerings are as described in Friday’s press release, but it is now clear that they are aimed at parents as customers (B2C). There is also far more detail than that provided in the press release:

  • Virtual summer school – two hours a day for 4 weeks, Monday-Thursday. Cost: £400.
  • Revisions courses – for those taking IGCSEs or GCSEs in November / February. Details will not be available later this month, probably because winter exams have not been confirmed yet.
  • Study Skills – delivered through Academy21, no details available yet.
  • Learning on-demand – Study GCSE England, Maths and/or Science alongside your existing school.

Learning on demand

While the “Learning On Demand” service has in fact been available since April, it is this that I believe has the most potential for long term additional business.

I have discussed before the issue with InterHigh offering IGCSEs rather GCSEs and therefore making them incompatible with state schools, and the issue with their fee structure making it impossible to try their service without a significant financial commitment. This new service addresses both these problems, however given that lessons are in a single slot during the school day there may be timetabling clashes. Furthermore parents (who are not homeschooling) will require cooperation from schools which (based on my experience) is likely to be highly problematic and is not something currently addressed on InterHigh’s website.

Price start at £40 for a one-week trial (2×40 min lessons a week) with discounts for more subjects and longer time frames bring it down to as little as £16 per subject per week.

State funded (B2B) offering

The above services as offered on the InterHigh website are paid for by parents, and I cannot currently find anything equivalent on Academy21’s website, but I think the following from Friday’s press release explains the situation:

The education packages can also be tailored for schools and Local Authorities providing blended education.

Further to this the Telegraph are now reporting that £1bn is being given to schools. £350m of this seems to be earmarked for tutoring, but:

Headteachers will also be given £650 million to spend on catch-up activities for youngsters, which could include summer camps.

Schools will be free to spend the £650 million as they see fit, but it is anticipated that the tuition programme will begin largely in the new school year.

So it looks like Wey will have a considerable pot of money to bid into. With a carefully planned complementary programme already in place and the ability to share the same lesson across multiple schools at once, Wey has the potential to be both superior and cheaper for many pupils than hiring university graduates, supply teachers or tutors.

To place the £650m funding in contect, Wey Education’s turnover in 2019 was £6m.

Conclusion

As seen with Academy21’s “self-isolating child” offering to schools which was quickly made redundant by the ending of any teaching for anyone, not all of Wey’s coronavirus-related initiatives will pay off. I will be paying close attention to today’s government announcement and in particular the response to it from teachers, unions and schools. But almost regardless, Wey have shown themselves to be agile, proactive and pleasingly aggressive, attributes which should serve shareholders well whatever the next few months bring.

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