It is so exciting to get back to school! The senior management team are already back in school, making sure that it is safe for our staff’s return. When we started to plan how best to return and start working in school, rather than from home, it soon became apparent that there were two important considerations:

1 How to make the school as safe as possible for the staff

and

2 How to make sure the staff feel as safe as possible

The same will be true for the students, of course. When you book an English course you want to be able to look forward to the experience, reassured that you are travelling to a safe environment.

Our phased approach allows us to do just that.

From Monday 20 July

School will be safe for the IH Manchester staff and teachers to return. Our staff will be able to be trained for and to become familiar with the new environment. We have been working with the building management at Arthur House, where our school is located in Manchester city centre. There are systems already in place to allow students and staff to safely enter the building and arrive at our school on the 5th floor. It’s great that the IH Manchester staff can spend 2 full weeks getting familiar with this “new normal” before our students begin to gradually return.

From Monday 27 July

Online English classes will start to be taught from school. There will be no difference in timetable, schedule or teaching. But, instead of our teachers teaching these classes from home, they will now be able to start to plan their lessons together in school. We will also start using our new telepresence technology, so the online student will start to get an improved feeling of in-class participation. More about this below…However, we are extremely excited about this. This is something that is incredible to see and we want to share this enhanced experience with you very soon.

From Monday 3 August

From today we will start to invite a limited number of students to take their English language lessons in school. There are about 10 of our students still living in Manchester right now. They were unable to return home after lockdown and have been enjoying our online classes and continuing to live in Manchester ever since. They are very much looking forward to coming back to school. This will allow us to begin to safely manage students in school. It will limit the school capacity as we help our students get used to the new measures in place and feel safe. Up to 5 students per class may then join online students for “hybrid lessons”.

What Are Hybrid Lessons?

Using innovative telepresence technology, we will facilitate remote students on Zoom to participate in the face to face lesson in school. This enhances the experience of the online learner whilst allowing the teacher and students in class to stay safe. During the build up to the lockdown, the incredible IH Manchester academic team were consulting IH colleagues from all around the world as they put in place the means to teach classes online. By the week before lock down, all our students were able to learn English online with our teachers teaching from the classroom, in school. A few students still preferred to come to school and they used Zoom on their laptops to enable them to also be connected with their classmates online.

The only problem with this was something called “loop feedback”. As school Principal, John said:

“You can’t avoid it. It’s just physics!”

In short, it caused an awful sound for all those involved. Since then, we have been working very hard to find a reliable technological solution, to eliminate this issue and also to make the experience great for the teacher and all the students.

We are delighted to say that we have now found answer! It allows those studying online to not only interact fully with each other, but also with those students and the teacher in the Manchester classroom. They can all see and hear each other perfectly and we’ve fixed the physics! There is absolutely crystal clear sound without feedback. We’ve been practising extensively and it certainly is impressive!

IH Manchester students can now chose to either learn English in Manchester or online from wherever they are in the world.