Remote learning duty: Everything teachers need to know

What does the DfE's new legal obligation to provide remote learning during the Covid-19 pandemic mean for teachers?

John Roberts

Coronavirus: How schools can fulfil their new legal obligation to provide remote learning

From tomorrow, schools have a new legal duty to provide a remote education to any pupil unable to attend lessons because of Covid-19.

The move comes as growing numbers of students are having to self-isolate.

The latest figures show that more than one in five (21 per cent) of schools and almost half of secondary schools have one or more pupils off school isolating after potential contact with a Covid case inside their school.

The new legal mandate created by education secretary Gavin Williamson follows government guidance published before the summer holidays on what the Department for Education expects from schools.


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Here is everything teachers need to know about what is now expected.

Coronavirus: The legal duty on schools to provide remote learning

Think about what pupils need offline and online

According to the government guidance, schools need to give pupils access to high-quality remote education resources.

They also need to select “online tools that will be consistently used across the school in order to allow interaction, assessment and feedback” and make sure staff are trained to use them.

The department also says that schools need to provide printed resources, such as textbooks and workbooks, for pupils who do not have suitable online access.

‘Ideally' give pupils daily contact with teachers

In putting together their remote education provision, schools have been told to plan a programme that is the equivalent length to the core teaching that pupils would receive in school if they were attending as normal.

The department’s guidance adds that, ideally, this should include daily contact between teachers and the pupils who are not able to attend lessons because of Covid-19 restrictions.

Be ambitious for young pupils and those with SEND

The DfE says schools need to recognise that younger pupils and some pupils with SEND ( special educational needs and disabilities) “may not be able to access remote education without adult support”.

It adds that schools should therefore work with families of these pupils to deliver a broad and ambitious curriculum.

Ensure lessons meet school curriculum expectations

The government has said schools are expected to consider how to continue to improve the quality of their existing curriculum and to have a strong contingency plan in place for remote education provision.

The DfE guidelines say this will mean using a curriculum sequence that allows access to “high-quality online and offline resources and teaching videos” that is linked to the school’s curriculum expectations. 

It also says teachers should deliver “a planned and well-sequenced curriculum so that knowledge and skills are built incrementally, with a good level of clarity about what is intended to be taught and practised in each subject”.

Gauge how well pupils are learning remotely

A school’s plan for remote learning should also allow it to be able to know how well pupils are progressing through the curriculum, using questions and also setting "a clear expectation on how regularly teachers will check work”.

The department said this should enable teachers to adjust the pace or difficulty of what is being taught in response to questions or assessments, including revising material or simplifying explanations if it is thought necessary.

Provide regular explanations – delivered by teachers or video

When teaching children who are self-isolating or unable to attend, teachers and schools are expected to provide frequent, clear explanations of all new content being covered.

The government guidance says this should be “delivered by a teacher in the school or through high-quality curriculum resources or videos”.

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John Roberts

John Roberts

John Roberts is North of England reporter for Tes

Find me on Twitter @JohnGRoberts

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