Back in the late 1990s, when New Labour had just come into office and Steve Richards, our Educational Director, was working with CARE for Education as a Project Manager, it was very difficult to envisage that the small project which began as a workshop idea at a missions conference in Texas, would, twenty years later, have provided educational support to families and small schools in over forty countries around the world. In 1999, NorthStarUK, as it was then known, enrolled its first students with little by way of curriculum but with an enthusiastic team of tutors who were eager to help families who simply needed educational support for their children. The original plan had been to formally launch in September 2000 – the idea of a millennial launch sounded rather appealing back then! However, a small number of families virtually begged us to launch early and that is what we did in September 1999.
Almost twenty years later, we are able to look back and appreciate both how mad it was to launch a year early and how much fun its has been over the years since. We have been blessed beyond measure and have experienced faithfulness that has been breathtaking.
The online learning landscape has changed almost beyond recognition over the last twenty years. Back in 1999, NorthStar was the first fully online secondary education provider in the UK; now there are many. It is also true that families and small schools are looking for slightly different things these days. NorthStar’s flexibility means that we have always been able to tailor our programmes of study far more than other organisations. In addition, unlike others, we really do believe in home-based learning and have a wealth of experience in this area. Steve and Lyn Richards, our senior staff home educated all four of their children as too did some of our tutors.
However, we need to change and in particular we need to streamline our programmes of study and our costs. The last two years have seen us undertaking a series of changes internally which has helped us provide a better service to our students and cut costs within the organisation. We adopted Google Apps for Education as our communications platform and have been accepted by Microsoft as an educational provider.
As a result, in preparation for our twentieth anniversary year, we are pleased to announce a number of key changes –
* IGCSE courses will now be delivered as a single course rather than effectively two courses spread over two academic years. Families and small schools will therefore purchase a complete IGCSE course and will be able to manage the the duration of study more flexibly.
* We have overhauled our fee structure, substantially reducing costs for our courses. IGCSE courses will now cost £450 per complete course and Pre-IGCSE courses will cost £225.
* A change of name – from September 2018, NorthStarWorldwide will be known as NSWLearning. This reflects the name that we have used internally within our learning platform for some time and indicates the scope of the changes that we are making internally.
Throughout all of these developments, our plan is to establish a platform that will allow ‘NorthStar’ to flourish and provide support for the next twenty years.