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Interview with Danny Harrington, Co-founder of ITS Education Asia

Published on Wednesday, July 19, 2017

How did ITS Education Asia come about and when was the school opened?

 

In the vast majority of schools, the learning model remains fairly close to what it was a hundred and fifty years ago: kids watching a teacher at the front of a room. That is the reality of learning for most children. At ITS Education Asia, however, the idea is that education should be truly learner-centred and not just compatible with modern life but effective preparation for it. In Hong Kong (in 2005), you only had two kinds of education going on. One was to go to a mainstream school, a standard kind of school that we see all over the world, where you sit in a class with 30 to 40 students and you just go through that curriculum, all very rigid and traditional. The other kind of education were private tutors and private tutorial schools, like one I was working for. But they are not able to provide full time officially accredited education, so they are only ever providing support to children in their mainstream schools. So me and my co-founder would think to ourselves, ‘what about all the people that cannot get a good education from a mainstream school? And what about the fact that many children in a mainstream school are not maximizing their potential?’ So the idea of ITS and its purpose was born out of creating more options for learners in Hong Kong, so that they could find ways to go through their learning, go through their schooling, that were more suited to them as individuals, but still get all of the important qualifications that they needed to be able to continue their education, perhaps, at university or college, or even just to go to the workplace. Hence our two 'slogans':

If it's education, it's ITS

Pathways to Learning

 

We then went online as well in 2012 because the potential of online learning used correctly is the way that we can fit education into modern life and into the way that modern children actually experience life. The ITS model allows us to be much more accommodating to what a current learning generation is actually doing and how they need to be prepared for the future, using technology, leading things, being able to collaborate, using social media. We cannot run away from these things, we have to embrace them and work out how we can effectively educate people without holding them back for the future.

In your opinion, what are the USP’s (Unique Selling Points) of your school?

 

Other than the high quality of our international teachers and our unique position as an accredited examination centre for so many organisations and globally recognised qualifications, I would say the fact that we are so flexible and thus learner-centred.

Time: students get quite a lot of say in when they learn and how long they take to get through their course, subject to teacher availability.

Place: students choose which school to attend for which courses or can choose online. We use world leading Collaborate Ultra for our live online classroom and integrate it into a Moodlerooms LMS (Learning Management System) to give students absolute control over their self-management. They receive and submit and store assignments, ask questions to the subject forum or teacher, get a recording of all lessons to review at any time and of course their parents can see all this as well. We also work with other schools and often send our teachers to their campuses to deliver learning options to their student body.

Finance: we have all kinds of price points for all kinds of budgets and allow for both pre-payments and ongoing accounts.

 

Which are your main courses, and can you tell us something about them?

 

We are a full Academic Centre for Edexcel so we teach and examine the International GCSE and the International A-level. These are globally recognised secondary (high) school qualifications which can be used to access thousands of school and tertiary level courses and institutes around the world.

 

We are a BTEC centre and so provide an official BTEC HND in Business. This is a Level 5 qualification which is assignment based and is across two years (with some flexibility) and is equivalent to the first 2 years of a bachelor programme. It is used to access 3rd year 'top-up' degrees from many UK universities or for work-based learning.

 

We have a number of university preparation courses:

UK: as well as doing A-levels students may need to prepare for entrance tests. We are an official Cambridge Admissions Testing Service centre for a wide range of exams for which we both teach and examine. We are also an accredited UCAS centre so we can prepare all applications. We have Oxbridge specialists to cover interviews for the top universities.

 

We have a highly successful IELTS programme and we are an official British Council IELTS agent.

 

We have our own highly successful SAT and ACT programmes for students aiming at US.

 

We have our own fashion school with diploma and high diploma courses available.

 

All courses are available in our schools and online. Students travelling to HK from overseas qualify for student visas on our full-time courses.

 

Why should schools contact you?

 

We have helped a number of smaller international schools in the past when they have found their size means they are missing specialist teachers or counsellors for certain areas. This is especially true if they have just a small group of say 5 or 6 students wanting to do a less mainstream subject such as Psychology for which they could never employ a full-time teacher. Often schools will have specialist university counsellors for either UK or US but rarely both. So again we can deliver expertise on a case by case basis allowing high quality advice in a cost effective manner.

 

Why should agents contact you?

 

We offer an alternative option for students who may not be able to access traditional education options which allows agents an opportunity to grow their market. Imagine families who cannot afford overseas school options or even international school options locally but who do have some disposable income. We can deliver A-levels at 20% of the usual cost. Agents can develop a higher volume - lower price element to their revenue streams. Imagine students who are limited in mobility – culturally or physically. They can get an international education through our online service. Or imagine students who want to come to Hong Kong which is quite crowded in student numbers – we have capacity for them. All our services have commissions on them and we see ourselves as so very different it is a real opportunity for agents with long-term vision looking for growth and diversity in their markets to be in a relationship with us.

 



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