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Primary Education: Remote Education

Question for Department for Education

UIN 140094, tabled on 19 January 2021

To ask the Secretary of State for Education, what additional steps his Department plans to take to support remote learning in primary schools during the covid-19 outbreak.

Answered on

25 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 to clarify and strengthen what is expected during the period of restricted attendance and draws on our evolving understanding of best practice in remote education: https://www.gov.uk/government/publications/actions-for-schools-during-the-coronavirus-outbreak#section-5-contingency-planning-for-outbreaks.

With most pupils now having to learn remotely, and schools and colleges having made huge progress in developing their remote education provision, it is right that we increase the expectations on what remote education they receive. Schools are now expected to provide remote education that includes either recorded or live direct teaching alongside time for pupils to work independently to complete assignments that have been set. Online video lessons do not necessarily need to be recorded by teaching staff at the school. Oak National Academy lessons, for example, can be provided in lieu of school led video content.

The number of hours expected for different age groups has also changed. Hours include both direct teaching and time for pupils to complete tasks or assignments independently. Primary schools are now expected to provide, as a minimum:

  • 3 hours a day for Key Stage 1, on average across the cohort with less for younger children.
  • 4 hours a day for Key Stage 2

Primary schools are also expected to have a system in place for checking on a daily basis whether pupils are engaging actively with their work, and learning. Primary schools will need to work with families to identify swiftly where pupil engagement is a concern and find effective solutions.

The Department recognises that different expectations are appropriate for younger and older age groups when learning remotely. We expect schools to consider the remote education expectations in relation to pupils’ age, stage of development or special educational needs. The number of hours of remote education we expect schools to deliver also varies according to pupil stage.

We also recognise 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 do not expect that solely digital means will be used to teach these pupils remotely.

There is a wide range of resources available to support schools to meet the expectations we have set.

Get Help with Remote Education provides a one stop shop for teachers, signposting the support package available: https://www.gov.uk/guidance/get-help-with-remote-education. This includes helping primary schools 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. Information is also available on issues such as safeguarding, statutory duties and expectations, supporting pupils with special educational needs and disabilities (SEND), and recovery and catch up to stop pupils falling behind. We worked with some of the demonstrator schools and colleges to help develop a self-assessment framework, to help schools review and improve their approach to remote education through technology. This has now been launched as the Review your Remote Education Provision framework: https://www.gov.uk/government/publications/review-your-remote-education-provision.

The Government is investing over £400 million to support access to remote education and online social care, including securing 1.3 million laptops and tablets for disadvantaged children and young people. This includes over 800,000 laptops and tablets that were delivered to schools, academy trusts and local authorities by 17 January. All schools, trusts and local authorities have now been given the opportunity to order their full current allocation of devices.

The Department has also made £4.84 million available for Oak National Academy both for the summer term of the academic year 2019-20, and then for the 2020-21 academic year, to provide video lessons in a broad range of subjects for Reception up to Year 11. Specialist content for pupils with SEND is also available. Since the start of the spring term 2021, 4.1 million users have visited the Oak National Academy platform and 28 million lessons have been viewed, as of 17 January 2021. Oak National Academy will remain a free optional resource for 2020-21.

The BBC has 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. Starting on Monday 11 January, each week day on CBBC will see a three hour block of primary school programming from 9am. Bitesize Daily primary and secondary will also air every day on BBC Red Button as well as episodes being available on demand on BBC iPlayer. This TV offer is in addition to the BBC’s online offer, which parents, children and teachers can access when and where they need it.

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