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Remote Education

Question for Department for Education

UIN 133843, tabled on 6 January 2021

To ask the Secretary of State for Education, what plans his Department has to provide support to parents who have to home school their children while working full time.

Answered on

21 January 2021

It is critically important to ensure that all children and young people continue to learn during the national lockdown. The Department has updated the remote education guidance for schools and colleges to clarify and strengthen expectations while on-site attendance is restricted, drawing on our evolving understanding of best practice in remote education. The guidance is available here: https://assets.publishing.service.gov.uk/government/uploads/system/uploads/attachment_data/file/950510/School_national_restrictions_guidance.pdf.

Schools are expected to provide a set number of hours of remote education for pupils, increased from the Government’s previous minimum expectations. This includes time for independent study and recorded or live direct teaching. The Department recognises that different expectations are appropriate for younger and older age groups when learning remotely. The minimum number of expected hours therefore vary by Key Stage: 3 hours for Key Stage 1, on average across the cohort with less for younger pupils; 4 hours for Key Stage 2; and 5 hours for Key Stages 3 and 4. Schools are also expected to provide daily check ins on pupil engagement.

The Department also recognises that younger children in Key Stage 1 or Reception often require high levels of parental involvement to support their engagement with remote education, which makes digital provision a particular challenge for this age group. We therefore do not expect that solely digital means will be used to teach these pupils remotely.

To provide further clarity for pupils, parents, and carers about what they can expect, schools are expected to publish information about their remote education provision on their website by 25 January 2021. An optional template is available to support schools with this expectation. It is available at: https://www.gov.uk/government/publications/providing-remote-education-information-to-parents-template. Colleges were also expected to publish information about their remote education provision on their websites by 18 January.

The Government is investing over £400 million to support access to remote education and online social care services securing 1.3 million laptops and tablets for disadvantaged children and young people, 800,000 of which were delivered to schools, trusts and local authorities by 17 January. All schools have been invited to order devices. Laptops and tablets are owned by schools, trusts or local authorities who can lend these to children and young people who need them most during the current COVID-19 restrictions.

The Department has partnered with the UK’s leading mobile network operators, such as EE, Three, O2, and Vodafone, to provide free data to disadvantaged families, which will support access to education resources, including Oak National Academy, and other websites. Families will benefit from this additional data until July 2021. Schools will be able to request free mobile data uplifts via the Get Help with Technology service.

In addition, the Department has already provided 4G wireless routers, with free data for the academic year, and continue to provide 4G wireless routers where children need to access remote education.

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