Could This Be The Best Classroom In The World?
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Could This Be The Best Classroom In The World?

Attending Minerva Virtual means that you can learn from anywhere in the world

Imagine for a second a classroom at your school. The rows of desks, the plastic chairs, that slightly musty smell of a school library book. 

Now, imagine looking out of your classroom window to the sight of the sun glistening off the crystal clear ocean, breathing in the sea air as you open your laptop, ready for a few hours of lessons. 

That’s the reality for 12 year old Josh Colledge, one of thousands of ‘liveaboard’ students across the globe, defining their own school experience thanks to the flexibility of online schooling.

And it’s been truly transformational for the whole family, says Josh’s mum Laura, who, with husband Ross made the decision to pursue the liveaboard lifestyle with Josh and younger brother Noah in 2018. 

Colledge family

Colledge family on Holly Blue

‘Even before we had the boys we were keen travellers and that free lifestyle is something we’ve always had in the back of our minds. We had Josh and a few years later Noah was born and while we were well off financially and living this perfect life in England, we just weren’t happy. It didn’t suit us.

‘What we wanted to do is be together more, we wanted to show the boys the world and broaden their horizons as well as giving Josh, who had been diagnosed with ADHD, the opportunity to flourish in an environment that we felt would enable him to learn wherever he was. 

‘On top of that, the mainstream school system was never the right fit for Josh. His nature is to find the good in everything so although he loved his school and was very happy there, we could see the cracks beginning to show – he just wasn’t getting the support that he needed to be the best that he could be,’ Laura explained.

In 2018, Ross surprised the family by buying Holly Blue – the boat that the family now calls home and after a brief stint in Cyprus, in 2019, the Colledges sailed to Greece, documenting their journey through their YouTube channel Sailing Holly Blue.

Having initially homeschooled both Josh and Noah, a chance meeting in the Ionian led the family to Minerva’s Virtual Academy – an award winning, online independent school offering all the best aspects of a British education, without geographical barriers. 

‘The hardest thing about this entire journey was the decision to take the boys out of mainstream education particularly for Josh who was a little older and had become quite attached to the people at his primary school,’ said Laura ‘in hindsight, it’s the best decision we’ve ever made but it was incredibly difficult at the time.’

Having met Minerva’s Head of Marketing who was on holiday close to where Holly Blue was docked, the family were introduced to the world of online schooling. 

‘We never knew that something like Minerva’s Virtual Academy even existed. We’d explored options like international schools but between the language barriers and the logistics of a lifestyle that is so spontaneous, it just wasn’t a viable option for us. Minerva has been brilliant not just for Josh but for us all as a family allowing us to live the way we want to live without compromise.

Josh, pupil at Minerva Virtual

Josh, pupil at Minerva Virtual

‘We’ve had to become more structured than we were previously, but it’s given us more focus which has been really beneficial. For Josh, it’s boosted his organisational skills, ramped up his IT skills and it’s given him back that sense of community, stability and social interaction that he thrived on at mainstream school.’

The enhanced support offered by Minerva, where every student is matched with a one-to-one mentor has also helped Josh to thrive, Laura says. ‘Josh is extremely intelligent and that coupled with his ADHD means that he needs to be taught in a way that works for him. When I was homeschooling, I was struggling to keep up. Minerva gives Josh a level of education that suits his capabilities and he’s absolutely flying. When you add in things like weekly one-to-one mentoring sessions,  it’s a world away from anything that mainstream school could offer him.’

MVA has been beneficial for younger brother Noah too, giving Laura more time to dedicate to Noah’s homeschooling while driving forward her online coaching business and continuing to build the family’s successful YouTube channel.

The flexibility of Minerva’s flipped learning model whereby students are introduced to learning material ahead of lessons, with lesson time offering an opportunity to deepen their knowledge has been a game changer for Josh with less time spent in lessons meaning more time spent exploring with his family. 

‘The flexibility of online schooling has been a huge bonus for us. Where we go and when really is based on whatever is the safest and best option for us as a family. It’s largely based around the weather but ultimately we live life on a whim, hopping from island to island.

‘But what that means is that if Josh does have to miss a lesson or, if we’re travelling overseas or in another timezone, he can catch up with his lessons. Just recently we had a huge thunderstorm that completely knocked our WiFi out and Josh was able to access recordings of the lessons he’d missed. He really can learn from wherever he is.’