‘Frustrating lack of clarity’ on remote education plans

DfE guidance saying schools should provide remote learning 'as resources permit’ is ‘confusing to say the least’, say heads
31st December 2020, 1:37pm

Share

‘Frustrating lack of clarity’ on remote education plans

https://www.tes.com/magazine/archived/frustrating-lack-clarity-remote-education-plans
Home Ed

Headteachers have expressed confusion as to whether their schools will be required to provide remote learning to non-exam students next week.

As stated in revised guidance yesterday, the Department for Education said secondary schools and some primaries will remain closed next week to all but vulnerable children and those of key workers following a rise in infections of coronavirus.

And setting out the new plans in a letter to heads, education secretary Gavin Williamson said schools should "prioritise resources for remote education for exam-year groups in line with what they would receive in class and to all other years as resources permit".


New term: Plan for Covid hotspot primaries to open two weeks late

Exclusive: New school opening delay agreed by ministers

Covid: 'Pause' January school opening, says academies leader


However David Phillips, head of Chilwell secondary school, near Nottingham, told the BBC: "Yesterday's announcement incudes this strangeness that actually we're not expected to provide remote education unless we wish to.

"After all the fuss before Christmas in terms of what schools were doing, it seems rather odd that actually we're expecting to, and we have the capability to, provide remote education for our students and the Department for Education is saying that's not necessary."

The revised guidance states that the majority of primary schools will open as planned this Monday, however the majority of secondary pupils will not return to school full-time until January 18 - a delay of two weeks to the start of term.

This is a change from the staggered start plan announced just before Christmas, which stated all primaries would open from 4 January and that secondaries would open for exam pupils only from that date with the rest returning the following week.

Meanwhile, the government said the staggered starts would be "supported by full-time remote education".

However Julie McCulloch, director of policy at the Association of School and College Leaders (ASCL), said the new guidance on remote education in the first week of the new term was "confusing to say the least".

She said: "It [the government] expects secondary schools and colleges to provide remote education during that week to pupils in exam year groups and 'to all other years as resources permit'. There is no further explanation about what this means and it has been left to schools and colleges to interpret. It appears that the government has done this with the intention of giving schools some flexibility over their arrangements but the lack of clarity is obviously frustrating."

The DfE says all students, other than those classed as vulnerable and the children of key workers, should be educated remotely for the first week of next term, and that schools should "prioritise remote education for exam year groups in the first week of term, alongside their preparation for the testing programme".

It also says that "to the extent possible" schools should provide some remote education for other year groups in the first week of term.

You’ve reached your limit of free articles this month

Register for free to read more

You can read two more articles on Tes for free this month if you register using the button below.

Alternatively, you can subscribe for just £1 per month for the next three months and get:

  • Unlimited access to all Tes magazine content
  • Exclusive subscriber-only articles 
  • Email newsletters

Already registered? Log in

You’ve reached your limit of free articles this month

Subscribe to read more

You can subscribe for just £1 per month for the next three months and get:

  • Unlimited access to all Tes magazine content
  • Exclusive subscriber-only articles 
  • Email newsletters