After a highly successful pilot at Shireland Collegiate Academy, askOLA has today launched its nationwide programme online with a simple subscription service available for schools and parents to purchase.

The pioneering programme allows pupil-led learning with access to wellbeing support and saves teachers time by reducing their workload.

askOLA is an on-demand, out-of-school learning and wellbeing support system.  The intention is for the system to support the whole student, both academically and emotionally; addressing their readiness to learn.

askOLA is being launched  in the run up to 2022 exams and vocational qualifications with schools able to choose how they spend ‘catch up’ funding and amid wider concerns about mental health being expressed by the Children’s Commissioner and other leading education figures.

The pandemic has also accelerated the digitisation of schools and a ‘hybrid’ approach to education with classroom learning backed up with remote provision. askOLA is a great example of a new online platform that provides academic and wellbeing support which is student-led and can be used outside of school hours.

Students receive online academic support from vetted Online Learning Assistants (OLAs) and are signposted to the digital mental health and emotional wellbeing service provided by Kooth if they are experiencing difficulties – including direct access to counselling services or pre-moderated self-help content, if needed.

askOLA adds capacity to the education system by allowing young people the opportunity to access pastoral and learning support outside of school in the same way that they can approach a teaching assistant if they were in a classroom. That way, children have access to support whenever it is needed, and teachers can rest assured that their pupils are being well supported outside of school, reducing workload.

The pilot of askOLA began at Shireland Collegiate Academy on the 14th of February and around 500 students have been taking part. Feedback has been very positive with students finding the online platform easy to use and helpful – a selection of pupil comments so far includes:

“This is so much better than Google, I really like the interaction. I actually get frustrated when I’m stuck and go on Google and find myself following loads of links but never getting the answer. This is more specific so way more helpful.” Jackson, 12 years old

“I think it’s going to help a lot. Sometimes in lessons I don’t really get the questions and so I can use askOLA….they don’t just give me like the answer straight away but they lead me towards the answer. So they’re not just telling me [information], I’m actually learning something.” Kayleigh, 12 years old

“It’s really helpful because…they’ve shown you how to work it out. That’s great.” Jasmine, 12 years old

Staff have also found askOLA’s new catch up and wellbeing support helpful:

“The service has been well received by pupils and staff. During the launch assemblies our students were clearly enthused – they couldn’t wait to get started… especially outside of school hours and in homework club.” Louise O’Gorman, teacher at Shireland Collegiate Academy Trust

For more information about the programme and how it can help you, visit

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