Remote Education: Coronavirus

Department for Education written question – answered on 15th October 2020.

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Photo of Fiona Bruce Fiona Bruce Conservative, Congleton

To ask the Secretary of State for Education, what additional support he is providing to families educating children in non-school settings as a result of the covid-19 outbreak.

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

The Department announced further remote education support on 1 October, which will be available over the coming months to schools or colleges seeking additional support. This can be found on the ‘Get help with remote education’ page: https://www.gov.uk/guidance/remote-education-during-coronavirus-covid-19.

This support was announced alongside the Temporary Continuity Direction, which makes it clear that schools have a duty to provide remote education for school-age children in state-funded education who are unable to attend school due to COVID-19: https://www.gov.uk/government/publications/remote-education-temporary-continuity-direction-explanatory-note.

The purpose of the Temporary Continuity Direction is to ensure that there is no doubt about the roles and responsibilities within the system for providing remote education. This will come into effect from 22 October 2020. The Temporary Continuity Direction poses no additional expectations on the quality of remote education expected of schools beyond those set out in this guidance.

The support for schools includes 250,000 laptops and tablets for disadvantaged children and development resources for staff, including a good practice guide and school-led webinars. We are also investing £1.5 million of additional funding to expand the EdTech Demonstrator programme, which provides peer-to-peer support for schools and colleges.

This support package will include 80 grants of £1,000 to colleges across England, providing additional training and support for mentors and coaches specialising in assisting teachers with remote education.

The package is designed to help schools and colleges build on and deliver their existing plans in the event that individuals or groups of pupils are unable to attend school because of COVID-19 in line with guidance and the law. This adds to existing support, including resources available from Oak National Academy.

During the lockdown, most children were educated at home. This ‘home-schooling’ is not the same as elective home education (EHE), and children remained on their school roll and received a combination of support from schools, online learning resources such as Oak Academy, and other resources parents may have provided themselves. EHE is where a parent chooses not to send their child to school full-time but assumes responsibility for making sure their child otherwise receives a full-time education.

The Government supports the right of parents to educate children at home through EHE when they wish to do so and can provide a suitable education. EHE works well when it is a positive choice and carried out with a proper regard for the needs of the child.

For parents who wish to educate children at home by EHE, they must be prepared to assume full financial responsibility for their child’s education, including bearing the cost of any public examinations, which would have to be entered via an external examinations centre. Some local authorities may provide financial or other assistance to home-educating families for public examinations, but this is discretionary.

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