The idea for Sky School was conceived in 2016, in response to the gap in quality secondary education provision for young displaced people.

In emergencies and crises, the immediate focus of governments, NGOs and other agencies is often on primary school education, security, health and other basic needs. With a growing number of opportunities at tertiary level for displaced youth, secondary education remains neglected. As a result, 77% of refugee youth do not complete their secondary education, and only 1% go on to study at higher education level.

Co-founders of Sky School, Polly and Mia, were working in international secondary education when they became aware of the lack of secondary education opportunities for refugee learners and the barriers keeping them from existing education systems. Given the mobile - and global - nature of refugee youth, they started thinking about how the international education community could help make a difference. With that, the idea for Sky School was born.

Sky School is working with refugee learners, as well as schools and educators around the world to develop secondary level courses which will lead to a recognised high school diploma. In 2017, we ran a six week pilot course on the topic of social entrepreneurship, involving 50 students. The course was delivered in collaboration with partners in Athens (Greece), Amman (Jordan) and Kakuma Camp (Kenya), as well as online. Feedback from the pilot course, from students and facilitators, was overwhelmingly positive.

In 2018, we are building on our initial success by developing the Sky School curriculum framework, as well as convening educators to design courses through hackathons and rolling out a number individual courses. We aim to introduce the full Sky School diploma programme at the beginning of 2019. For more information on how to get involved in 2018, see here.

 Sky School founders Polly Akhurst and Mia Eskelund Pedersen at a Sky School event in London (15 March 2018).

Sky School founders Polly Akhurst and Mia Eskelund Pedersen at a Sky School event in London (15 March 2018).


Sky School’s blended learning model harnesses the potential of online learning to deliver content, combining this with the power of physical learning communities. Students can study Sky School courses online wherever they are in the world, and are able to gain support on the ground at Sky School Hubs.

Blended study

There will be two ways of studying at Sky School:

1. Online only

Any student, wherever they are in the world, will be able to take courses on the Sky School online platform. Lessons and assignments on the platform are given by some of the best teachers from schools around the world. Lessons can be accessed at any time, to allow for flexible study. You will be able to access the courses on your phone, and engage online with your fellow students, as well as receive guidance and support from our online facilitators

2. Online and in person

If you live in a location where there is a Sky School Hub you will be able to study both online and in person: students study online via their phones or other devices in their own time, and will come together in person to study at an in-person Sky School learning hub several times per week. At the learning hub, students meet up with their classmates in person and are supported by a learning mentor.

Sky School courses are delivered in collaboration with partners who are already working with displaced youth and who have a presence and infrastructure on the ground. We are currently working with partners in Amman (Jordan), Athens (Greece) and Kakuma Camp (Kenya). As the programme expands, we will be looking for partners to deliver Sky School learning hubs in other locations. If you are interested in setting up a hub, please contact us on

Language of study

Our aspiration is to create a bilingual diploma with courses in a number of different languages, so that students from all areas of the world can access them. Our initial courses will take place in English and all course materials will be in English, but other languages will be spoken as well in the on-site learning hubs.

Modular programme

The Sky School Diploma programme will be modular - and once a student has completed a certain number of modules, they will be able to receive the Sky School Diploma. We are currently working with a curriculum group to map out the overarching structure of the curriculum.

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As a part of our pilot stage in setting up the Sky School diploma programme, a six week course on social entrepreneurship was trialled from November to December 2017. With Sky School Hubs in Amman (Jordan), Athens (Greece) and Kakuma Camp (Kenya), as well as worldwide online access, students came together to learn and work on innovative solutions to improve their local communities. At the Sky School Hubs students had access to technology, and were assisted by an on-site facilitator. The course was developed in partnership with UWCSEA, a well-known international school in Singapore. With the conclusion of the pilot course, we will use student and facilitator feedback, as well as overall results and experiences, to inform the development of the full Sky School diploma, which will be rolled out from January 2019.