Remote education expectations for schools


The Department for Education (DfE) has published remote education expectations for schools during the coronavirus pandemic.

The DfE has published a temporary continuity direction which makes it clear that schools have a duty to provide remote education for state-funded, school-age children unable to attend school due to coronavirus.

In addition, in January 2021 the DfE has published Restricting attendance during the national lockdown: schools which includes information on remote education requirements. 

In this article we outline what schools and teachers are expected to deliver. We also link to useful resources to support schools and teachers with remote education.

Remote education requirements

The DfE explains that remote education provided should be equivalent in length to the core teaching pupils would receive in school and will include both recorded or live direct teaching time, and time for pupils to complete tasks and assignments independently.

The amount of remote education provided should be, as a minimum:

  • Key Stage 1: 3 hours a day on average across the cohort, with less for younger children
  • Key Stage 2: 4 hours a day
  • Key Stages 3 and 4: 5 hours a day

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.

Ofsted will inspect schools – of any grade – where it has significant concerns about safeguarding or the quality of remote education being provided. Such concerns could be triggered by, for example, parents complaining about remote education directly to Ofsted.

Schools must publish information for pupils, parents and carers about their remote education provision on their website by 25 January 2021.

Planning for remote education

In the DfE’s ‘Guidance for full opening:schools’ it explains schools are expected to consider how to continue to improve the quality of their existing curriculum, for example through technology, and have a strong contingency plan in place for remote education provision.

The DfE expect schools to:

  • Use a curriculum sequence that allows access to high-quality online and offline resources and teaching videos and that is linked to the school’s curriculum expectations
  • Give access to high quality remote education resources
  • Select the online tools that will be consistently used across the school in order to allow interaction, assessment and feedback and make sure staff are trained in their use
  • Provide printed resources, such as textbooks and workbooks, for pupils who do not have suitable online access
  • Recognise that younger pupils and some pupils with SEND may not be able to access remote education without adult support and so schools should work with families to deliver a broad and ambitious curriculum

When teaching pupils remotely, the DfE expects schools to:

  • Set assignments so that pupils have meaningful and ambitious work each day in a number of different subjects
  • Teach 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
  • Provide frequent, clear explanations of new content, delivered by a teacher in the school or through high-quality curriculum resources or videos
  • Gauge how well pupils are progressing through the curriculum, using questions and other suitable tasks and set a clear expectation on how regularly teachers will check work
  • Enable teachers to adjust the pace or difficulty of what is being taught in response to questions or assessments, including, where necessary, revising material or simplifying explanations to ensure pupils’ understanding
  • Plan a programme that is of equivalent length to the core teaching pupils would receive in school, ideally including daily contact with teachers

The DfE expects schools to consider these expectations in relation to the pupils’ age, stage of development or special educational needs, for example where this would place significant demands on parents’ help or support. 

The DfE expects schools to avoid an over-reliance on long-term projects or internet research activities.

Support with delivering remote education

The DfE has produced guidance for teachers and leaders on delivering remote education during covid-19. It is intended to support those looking for help to improve the quality of their remote provision in line with the expectations set out in the guidance for schools.

You can access:

Examples of remote learning policies

Sharp Lane Primary School in Leeds has a remote learning policy. 

The policy explains that in addition to their in-school work, teachers from Sharp Lane will continue to support children that are unable to attend. It outlines the following expectations for teachers:

  • Teachers should plan lessons that are relevant to the curriculum focus for that year group and endeavour to replicate this through video clips and tasks for home learners
  • Teachers should create videos for key teaching points in English, Maths and Topic and send these to named staff to upload onto the school Facebook page and their class website pages by 12:00pm Monday
  • Any resources used, including websites and worksheets, should, where possible, be shared with home learners. Staff will do this electronically and it will be the responsibility of families to print/use these resources at home
  • To respond, within reason, promptly to requests for support from families at home. This should be done via email or by adding further video guidance for families.
  • Should a staff member require support with the use of technology, it is their responsibility to seek this support in school and senior leaders will ensure that support is given promptly

Horizon Community College in Barnsley has a remote education policy. The policy explains:

“Our remote learning timetable will mirror the on-site timetable for students wherever it is appropriate and practical to do so. Lessons will be delivered, and resources accessed by students, through Microsoft Teams. Both Microsoft Teams and Microsoft Outlook will ensure that students have access to their regular classroom teachers and, where appropriate, are also be able to join remote live lessons.

Where it is not possible for subject content to be experienced as it would be in school, appropriate alternative activities will be delivered, to ensure learning remains meaningful across the day.”

If you are an Edapt subscriber and have questions about meeting expectations set from your school you can contact us for further support and advice.

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