My Journal



Episode 14: Matthew Hood: ‘The Online Principal’

Oak National Academy is a government subsidised online platform that has helped millions of teachers and their students in the United Kingdom so they could continue the process of teaching & learning throughout the pandemic. Aldo speaks to its founder and Principal Matthew Hood about his journey and the rapid growth of Oak.
You hear it everywhere! The pandemic has unfortunately had many devastating effects on the essential pillars on which our society rests. Our day to day reliance on things that were previously considered obvious was suddenly interrupted. Overflooded hospitals, empty shelves in the supermarket and deserted tubes and trains previously crowded with passengers.
There have been many stories – also on this podcast – on how frontline workers in the healthcare sector did their utmost to ensure that nurses, doctors and hospital staff could continue to do their work and today we are going to take a deep-dive in how people stood up for Education. The abrupt closure of schools in 2020 came along with a deep fear that this would mean the end of teaching and learning as we know it.
Our own organisation TeachPitch was able to play a small role to ensure that education could continue in countries like Ecuador and Albania – and today we are going to talk about which specific steps were taken in the United Kingdom.
The government provided more than 1.3 million laptops and tablets to schools so children could learn from home. Another notable government subsidized initiative that stands out is the Oak National Academy.
This online school initiated by the Reach Foundation was created in April 2020 as a rapid response to the coronavirus outbreak. More than 40 teachers and colleagues from leading education organisations came together to support schools’ efforts to keep children learning.
The Oak Academy to date delivered 130 million lessons. 86% of teachers recommended Oak to a colleague, thanks to its help in reducing workload and improving teaching and learning.
In total, over 4.7m people visited Oak in its first term, with an average of 220,000 users each day. Serious numbers attacking a serious problem.
With the support of hundreds of teachers, sector bodies, unions and subject associations, Oak aims to continually listen to its users feedback to improve and extend its range of free resources.
And the online school will stay open for at least 2 more terms also as restrictions in the UK come down – this is what the Oak’s Principal Matt Hood recently announced in an article in the Times.
Matt Hood is described as one of the most forward-thinking educators around. Matt previously worked on many levels in the Education sector, as a teacher, policy maker and entrepreneur.
Matt’s initiative has had an enormous positive effect on education in times of crisis.
Friend or foe – I agree with Schools Minister Nick Gibb when he says: “The impact Oak has made and the good it has done for the sector and children is immeasurable, and we will now look for the best way to harness that for the future.”