Nisai Virtual Academy

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Nisai Virtual Academy (NVA) is an online learning community and real-time teaching environment, working in partnership with Staffordshire University, focussing on support for NEETs (Not in Employment, Education or Training), chronically sick young people who are unable to attend mainstream school and SEN (Special Educational Needs) students. It provides interactive learning programmes to students in the UK who are unable to access mainstream education. Typical students have disabilities, medical conditions, and behavioural issues, Excluded, Teenage mothers and Traveller Children.

It offers personalised learning and support programmes that are individually tailored around the specific needs of each student. All programmes at the NVA include a timetable of live, fully interactive lessons. Directed by teachers using online classroom technology, live lessons enable young people to participate, communicate and collaborate with other classmates from any location. Programmes are tailored around existing school timetables and used as either stand alone courses or to complement and support existing provision. The NVA also offers bite-size booster programmes, providing additional short-term support where needed.

The Nisai company started in 1996, when its concept of personalised learning was first established whilst offering training services to corporate clients – providing end users with the skills to use the latest software and computer systems of the day. Nisai worked with a range of clients around the world; including Shell, Unilever and Procter and Gamble – coaching members of staff through individually tailored and personalised programmes.

Over a five year period Nisai developed its personalised learning and in 2001, entered the UK education sector through a partnership with Warwickshire County Council. Called the Nisai-Iris Partnership, the pioneering project offered synchronous learning to out of school children in the authority using Nisai’s live classroom technology. Nisai helped Warwickshire County Council to develop content and pedagogies and to harness new technologies for educational benefits. The experience gained was put into developing the Nisai Virtual Academy (NVA) which took on its first cohort of students in 2004, with most of its students registered with Warwickshire. NVA opened its second UK office in 2005 in the North East of England – taking on staff across a range of roles including development, support, teaching and administration. Since then it has worked with over 40 Local Authorities and other educational organisations. The NVA regularly works in partnership with schools, local authorities and support organisations to provide young people with local, face-to-face support. It also acts as an environment to bring each member of a student’s support team together to work collaboratively. NVA is recognised by IMS Global Learning Consortium as a leader in personalised learning and claims to be 'the world leader in personal learning'. It is well connected, with recent visits to the House of Lords for an awards ceremony.

A Booster Programme has now been developed for schools and colleges to raise the attainment levels of students requiring additional support with their learning.

Specialist support is delivered both locally, in partnership with schools, and online through the NVA’s Wellbeing centre. This enables students exhibiting challenging behaviour to participate in accredited programmes with educational psychologists and other specialists in conditions such as autism and Asperger’s.

Exam results have been encouraging: In 2007, 72% of students achieved GCSE pass grades (A*-C) while 100% passed at A level. In 2008 64% of students achieved GCSE pass grades (A*-C), 65% passed Key Skills while 100% passed at A level. In 2009 63% of students achieved GCSE pass grades (A*-C), 86% passed Key Skills while 100% passed at A level. In 2010 NVA Students achieved a combined 98% pass rate at GCSE and 96% at A level.

The Nisai Group is now expanding its operations in Australia following a pilot of the business platform, Nisai Connect Lite. Using architecture developed for the Nisai Virtual Academy, the Connect Lite platform allows training providers and SMEs to provide learners with access to an online portal to communicate, share resources, collaborate on projects and access training materials. The platform also includes the online classroom service Nisai Live, which allows training providers to deliver live, interactive sessions to learners at any location.

The NVA offers a range of courses from Key Stage 3 to Key Stage 5 (A Level), as well as vocational and wellbeing programmes. It is used by many English Local Authorities - e.g. Barnsley Metropolitan Borough.