To ask the Secretary of State for Education, what steps is he taking to ensure that students who are unable to return to the classroom at the start of the Spring Term can access learning remotely.
11 January 2021
Given the critical importance of ensuring that all children and young people continue to learn during the national lockdown, the Department has updated the expectations for schools and colleges to clarify and strengthen what is expected during this period and drawing on our evolving understanding of best practice in remote education.
With most pupils now being taught remotely and schools having made huge progress in developing their remote education provision, it is right that we increase the expectations on what pupils receive. Schools should follow the remote education expectations set out in the actions for schools during the COVID-19 outbreak: https://www.gov.uk/government/publications/actions-for-schools-during-the-coronavirus-outbreak/guidance-for-full-opening-schools#res. Pupils will be set between 3 and 5 hours per day of remote education depending on their age, with daily check-ins on their engagement, and involving the effective use of digital education platforms.
To help schools and further education (FE) colleges in meeting these expectations, the Government has invested in a remote education support package. Our Get Help with Remote Education page provides a one stop shop for teachers and leaders, signposting the support package available: https://www.gov.uk/guidance/get-help-with-remote-education. This includes helping schools and FE colleges to access technology that supports remote education, as well as peer to peer training and guidance on how to use technology effectively. It also includes practical tools, a good practice guide and school led webinars to support effective delivery of the curriculum, as well as information on issues such as safeguarding, statutory duties and expectations.
As part of over £300 million invested to support access to remote education and online social care, over one million laptops and tablets have been secured for disadvantaged children and young people. This figure includes 560,000 that were delivered to schools, trusts and local authorities in 2020. By the end of this week we expect to deliver three quarters of a million devices. The Department has also partnered with some of the UK’s leading mobile network operators to provide free data to disadvantaged families, which will support access to education resources, including Oak National Academy, and other websites. Schools, trusts and local authorities can access this support through the Get Help with Technology service.
The BBC has also adapted their education support for the spring term 2021 and will be making educational content available on the television. This will help to ensure all children and young people can access curriculum-based learning from home.
Where pupils continue to experience barriers to digital remote education, we expect schools to work to overcome these barriers. This could include supplementing digital provision with different forms of remote education such as printed resources or textbooks. This should be supplemented with other forms of communication to keep pupils and students on track or answer questions about work.