UK’s first online primary school “leads from the front” as demand for virtual education grows

A London-based school is the first in the UK to offer full-time online learning for primary-age students from Key Stage 1.

Launched in August 2020, Sophia High School offers the British national curriculum for children aged five to 15, and is the only online independent school for students in years one to nine.

It currently has 32 children enrolled and is expecting to grow that number to at least 50 when its second year gets underway in September.

Sophia High School is part of ed tech start-up Sophia Technologies Group, which was co-founded in 2018 by former headteacher Melissa McBride.

Its mission is to establish a high quality learning environment online, especially in the wake of the Covid-19 pandemic which has led to an explosion in demand for virtual education.

Through a partnership with global education provider Fieldwork Education, Sophia provides primary and secondary students with a full British curriculum as well as access to the globally recognised International Primary Curriculum (IPC) and International Middle Years Curriculum (IMYC).

Lessons are streamed and delivered in live, interactive classrooms by highly qualified, fully vetted, UK-based teachers, and students have access to digital lesson recordings, interactive activities and full course resources, through the Google for Education Classroom learning environment. 

Melissa McBride, Chief Education Officer at Sophia High School, said: “Our growth story at Sophia High has shown the need and demand for quality online primary school options which provide students and families with a full-time online model of learning for children, based on the best of a British independent school education.  

“We stand apart from the field in offering a live online learning programme for students from as young as Year 1, as our competition seems to be focused on online education for older students.  

“We are determined to lead from the front with regards to providing outstanding online provision and the highest quality learning outcomes for our students and families.”

Sophia High School lets parents pay on a half-termly basis, with fees starting at £1,330.  Discounts are provided to families who join longer term and for those who have siblings at the school.

Co-founder David McCarthy, Director of Education at Sophia High School, said its success could be attributed to a “unique model of learning” which ensured that live online class sizes in the core subjects did not exceed six.

“This ensures that every child is engaged in interactive real-time learning activities alongside their peers during our live lessons, and enables our team of fully qualified teachers to develop close relationships with our students and families, in order to support each child with their personalised learning journey,” he said.

“These crucial elements are virtually impossible in online environments where class numbers are in excess of 30 plus students per live session, or where limited curriculum time for the core subjects is provided in the live teaching and learning timetabled sessions.”

The school offers extracurricular activities – including performance art camps with West End Musical star Maria Coyne, book clubs, Minecraft, Harry Potter, coding, debating and piano – through its SophiaX group learning courses.

Hugo Assagra’s daughter is one of the school’s first Year 1 students.

He said: “Our daughter started her school life here in the UK about three years ago, having studied in two different private schools.

“However, on both occasions, the education framework proposed was very similar: a levelled, standardised and well-delimited teaching framework applied to dozens of children. Although those schools were great in terms of their tradition, reputation and physical infrastructure, we were not 100% satisfied.

“We always thought a school with a tailored approach capable of focusing on the key challenges whilst stretching the areas of high performance or greater aptitude would be ideal for our little one, and this is exactly what we have found in Sophia High and its teachers.”

For more information about Sophia High School, visit

Published on PRFIRE

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