A new flagship “free school” planned to replace teachers with computers for some day-to-day lessons, the Times Education Supplement revealed yesterday.

England’s Ark Schools wants a “blended learning” model, where children will be taught over the internet for much of the day.

The new “e-school” will be known as the Ark Pioneer Academy and is due to open in London from September 2016 as part of the government’s free schools scheme, the teaching journal said.

Charter schools in the US, which inspired Education Secretary Michael Gove’s free schools programme, have already tried and tested similar radical schemes with some success.

One called Rocketship pioneered the model and now operates nine schools in Milwaukee and San Jose, teaching 5 000 pupils who spend a quarter of their school day online.

Rocketship chief executive Preston Smith said: “We have fewer teachers than a traditional school serving the same number of students.” By slashing the number of staff, the school can plough the savings into the remaining teachers’ salaries – and therefore better teachers.

This allowed Smith to pay teachers 50 percent more than other nearby schools. He wanted teachers earning more than $100 000 (R1.1 million) “as quickly as possible”. – Daily Mail