Remote Education: Coronavirus

Department for Education written question – answered on 22nd September 2020.

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Photo of Nicholas Fletcher Nicholas Fletcher Conservative, Don Valley

To ask the Secretary of State for Education, if his Department will make an assessment of the potential merits of making it compulsory for teachers to teach the same curriculum to whole classes and year groups through software that enables live teaching, in the event that those groups are sent home to self-isolate in response to a covid-19 outbreak.

Photo of Nick Gibb Nick Gibb Minister of State (Education)

The Department is committed to the continuation of high-quality education for all pupils during this difficult time. The Department published guidance on Thursday 2 July that sets out what is expected from schools for their remote education provision:

https://www.gov.uk/government/publications/actions-for-schools-during-the-coronavirus-outbreak/guidance-for-full-opening-schools#section-3-curriculum-behaviour-and-pastoral-support.

All schools should plan to ensure any pupils educated at home for some of the time are given the support they need to master the curriculum and so make good progress. Schools should also look to improve the quality of their existing provision against the expectations set out in the guidance on curriculum and remote education here:

https://www.gov.uk/guidance/remote-education-during-coronavirus-covid-19.

The Department has provided a range of resources to support schools in delivering remote education. This includes examples of teaching practice during coronavirus, which provides an opportunity for schools to learn from each other’s approaches to remote education, as well as our work with sector-led initiatives such as Oak National Academy. Relevant guidance can be found here: https://www.gov.uk/guidance/remote-education-practice-for-schools-during-coronavirus-covid-19.

The Department has 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 for Reception up to Year 11. This will include specialist content for pupils with special educational needs and disabilities. Oak will remain a free optional resource for 2020-21.

The Department has already invested over £100 million to support remote education, including the delivery of over 220,000 laptops and tablets for disadvantaged children who would not otherwise have access. The support package includes an investment of over £14 million on technical support to give schools access to cloud-based education platforms, nearly £6 million to support a new EdTech demonstrator school network, and over £85m to provide laptops, tablets and 4G internet devices, including security and e-safety packages and their distribution, and to top up the 16 to 19 Bursary Fund.

We have already delivered over 50,000 4G wireless routers to support disadvantaged children to learn at home and access vital social care services. These routers come with free data for the autumn term and will allow local authorities and academy trusts to support children who may have their education and care disrupted because of official coronavirus restrictions or disruption to face-to-face contact.

The Department is now supplementing this support by making available an initial 150,000 devices in the event that face-to-face schooling is disrupted as a result of local COVID-19 restrictions.

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