Introduction
Defining remote education and blended learning
Key issues and messages
Frequently asked questions
Further information

Introduction

This guidance has been updated to reflect the introduction of national lockdowns across the UK and the latest restrictions placed on the operation of schools. The advice will continue to be updated as the situation develops.

There is a clear expectation across UK governments and administrations that schools have plans in place to deliver remote education. Governments, administrations and other relevant bodies in England, Northern Ireland, Scotland and Wales have produced guidance on approaches to remote teaching and learning.

Members should ensure that they are familiar with the provisions of official guidance relevant to them and should note the expectation in guidance across the UK that existing remote education practices in schools should be reviewed to take account of the changing circumstances in which the education system is operating currently.

The advice set out below is consistent with this guidance and will help teachers and school leaders to ensure that remote education is undertaken in a way that is safe, sustainable for the workforce and secures the best possible educational experiences for children and young people.

These are particularly important considerations in light of the most recent lockdowns implemented across the UK and the restrictions that have been placed on the operation of schools as a result.

It is critical that schools’ provision of remote education in such circumstances reflect fully that restrictions on schools and on wider society have been introduced to address a public health emergency that requires significant limitations to be placed on any activities that take place outside the home. As a result, the overriding principle must be that schools’ remote education practice must be organised in such a way that does not compel staff to be on-site when it is possible for learning to be provided remotely. By limiting requirements for on-site working to only those circumstances where it cannot be reasonably be avoided, schools will be able to make the fullest possible contribution to addressing the current Covid-19 crisis.

Specific issues in relation to the attendance of staff on-site in the provision of remote education are set out below.

This advice covers other important factors that schools will need to address when planning for and delivering remote education. It also sets out what the NASUWT considers to be acceptable and unacceptable practice. It also sets out what the NASUWT considers to be acceptable and unacceptable practice.

Defining remote education and blended learning

Typically ‘remote education’ is used to describe situations where pupils are being taught remotely in their own homes rather than at school in a classroom. However, ‘remote education’ also includes situations where a teacher is working remotely and teaching a class of pupils at school, e.g. the teacher is teaching from home because they are self-isolating or shielding.

‘Remote education’ is often used to refer to teaching and learning that takes place online. However, it also covers teaching and learning using hard copy resources such as text books and worksheets.

‘Blended learning’ refers to learning that involves a combination of face-to-face teaching and remote education which may be delivered online or through hard copy resources. It is a particularly important consideration in respect of those pupils who may need to attend school sites because they have been identified as vulnerable or are the children of key workers.

Key issues and messages

It is not necessary for schools to require all available teachers to attend school sites for the provision of remote education and blended learning without good reason.
  • As noted above, the purpose of the current national lockdowns and restrictions on the operation of schools in place currently across the UK is to suppress transmission of the coronavirus through the limitation of unnecessary activities undertaken outside the home. It is inconsistent with this objective to require teachers and other school staff to attend school sites to provide remote education that they can provide effectively from home.

  • Schools must, therefore, have a clearly demonstrable reason for requiring staff to attend on-site to engage in remote education-related activities. Where a school cannot demonstrate that remote education cannot be provided effectively through teachers working at home, they should not require staff to attend school sites during the current period.

  • Where teachers are in position to exercise professional judgement about whether they attend a school site for a reason related to remote education, they must continue to exercise caution about doing so. They should in all cases consider seriously whether the activity in question can be undertaken effectively from home and, if not, whether the risks involved in travelling to and from work and attending a school site justify undertaking an activity from school rather than from home.

  • In all circumstances where attendance at school can be justified, members should satisfy themselves that risk assessments and the school’s Covid-control measures are consistent with the NASUWT’s guidance and have been updated to take account of the increased prevalence of coronavirus in the wider community and the different circumstances in which schools are operating following the introduction of national lockdowns across the UK.

Schools must have realistic expectations about what can and cannot be achieved through remote education and blended learning: it is not appropriate to expect the same outcomes as for face-to face teaching
  • There is very limited evidence about effective remote education and blended learning practice in schools. School policies and plans for remote education and blended learning need to reflect the fact that evidence is emerging and that practice is evolving.

  • Most teachers will have had no experience of teaching remotely prior to the Covid-19 pandemic and most will have received very limited training or professional development in remote education and blended learning approaches.

  • Schools should seek regular feedback from teachers to establish what works and to identify barriers and areas where improvements need to be made. Remote education plans should be updated in response to this feedback.

  • Schools should ensure that they keep abreast of emerging evidence about effective practice and issues.

Schools should assess whether it is appropriate to digitise the school’s curriculum for remote education or whether it would be more appropriate to use external curriculum resources that have been designed to support remote education
  • Schools will need to judge whether the school’s curriculum can be easily adapted to support remote teaching and learning and whether such an approach is appropriate and likely to be effective.

  • Schools will need to pay particular attention to tackling any workload arising from adapting face-to-face lessons as well as the appropriateness of adapting face-to-face lessons for remote teaching and learning.

  • Schools should consider whether external resources which have been designed to support remote education (e.g. Oak Academy in England [1], Glow in Scotland [2] and Hwb in Wales [3]) can be aligned with the school’s curriculum, whether using these resources will help to reduce workload, and whether these resources will support pupil progression.

Schools will need to establish whether particular subjects and/or topics should be delivered through face-to-face teaching rather than through remote education. Those that are most effectively delivered through face-to-face teaching will need to be postponed until the current restrictions on the operation of schools are lifted
  • Some areas of the curriculum may lend themselves to face-to-face teaching, e.g. those that focus on practical skills and on developing pupil’s social and emotional skills. School leaders will need to ensure that contingency plans identify subjects and topics that should be picked up through face-to-face teaching.

  • The NASUWT advises schools to pay particular attention to sensitive topics, e.g. some topics covered in relationships and sex education. Schools will need to ensure that lesson resources cannot be misused or misinterpreted. They will also need to pay particular attention to the fact that online resources might be viewed by younger children.

Schools should not monitor teacher’s online lessons for performance appraisal and quality assurance purposes
  • Most teachers will have had no experience of teaching remotely prior to the Covid-19 pandemic and few will have received training/CPD in remote education. Further, there is very limited evidence about effective practice in remote teaching and learning in schools. Therefore, it is wholly inappropriate for schools to adopt punitive and high stakes management practices to judge a teacher’s performance in respect of remote teaching and learning.

  • School leaders should focus on creating a climate that is developmental, supportive and collaborative to ensure that teachers and school leaders can develop the knowledge skills and competencies needed to implement remote education and blended learning effectively. Adopting punitive and high stakes performance appraisal and monitoring of remote teaching is likely to undermine supportive, developmental and collaborative approaches.

Schools must ensure that teachers and school leaders receive training and continuing professional development (CPD) to help them plan for and deliver remote education effectively
  • Schools should ensure that teachers and school leaders know how to use relevant technology and equipment to support online remote education.

  • While some teachers may be comfortable using technology, others will have limited knowledge of remote education technologies and may lack confidence.

  • Evidence about effective approaches to remote and blended learning in schools is emerging. Teachers and school leaders will need to develop their knowledge of and competencies in planning and delivering remote education and blended learning, and have access to up-to-date evidence about effective approaches and practice.

  • Training/CPD may need to cover both online and paper-based approaches to remote education.

  • Teachers must be supported to develop their knowledge of remote education resources and pedagogies that support remote education and blended learning. This includes CPD and collaborative practices. Schools will need to ensure that teachers have time within the working day to undertake CPD and plan and work collaboratively.

The school’s approach to remote education must recognise the professional status of teachers
  • Schools should have arrangements in place for catch-up discussions between teachers and their line manager. If necessary and given the importance of securing continuity of education, other activities may need to be paused or postponed to create time for such discussions to be held. These should take place within normal working hours. Such discussions should allow sufficient opportunity for professional reflection on the range of activities being provided for pupils.

  • Teachers should have access to evidence and support to enable them to carry out their role effectively.

  • Teachers should be able to make appropriate use their professional judgement to select the approach to teaching remotely that suits them and the pupils they teach.

  • Teachers should be supported to feedback their experiences of and views about the school’s approach to remote education and blended learning, including where improvements could be made. They should also be supported to share their knowledge and experiences of effective remote education resources and pedagogies with other teachers and school leaders.

Schools must take action to address poor working practices that pre-date the Covid-19 pandemic and continue to generate massive and unnecessary workload for teachers; teachers and school leaders should challenge the use of burdensome and inappropriate working practices
  • Teachers and school leaders must not be directed to undertake tasks and activities that are not directly related to their core responsibilities for teaching and leading teaching and learning, including administrative and clerical tasks that do not require the knowledge, skills and expertise of qualified teachers.

  • Schools across the UK should ensure that they comply with the recommendations set out in the reports of the Independent Teacher Workload Review Group Reports on marking, planning and data management. Schools should also ensure that they comply with the recommendations of the Teacher Workload Advisory Goup Report Making Data Work. Although the recommendations in these reports were developed in the context of the education system in England, the NASUWT is clear that they are substantially applicable to practice elsewhere in the UK.

  • The core purposes of marking, feedback and planning must be to help teachers to secure high-quality educational experiences for pupils and provide information to support effective teaching.

  • Marking and planning should never be used as a proxy for evaluating whether a teacher is performing well.

  • Most school assessment policies have been developed for face-to-face teaching contexts. It is not appropriate to simply apply these policies to remote learning contexts.

  • Schools must ensure that burdensome and inappropriate planning, marking and assessment practices are not replicated in approaches to remote education and blended learning.

  • The focus of assessment of remote learning should be on formative assessment, providing feedback to pupils in order to support future learning and not on providing evidence for school tracking systems.

  • Teachers teaching remotely must not be required to reproduce in written form, the verbal feedback that pupils might be given in classroom teaching.

  • Teachers should not be required to record their lesson plans, including for remote education, for evaluation by others.

Schools must prioritise in order to avoid workload burdens arising from the requirement to plan for and implement remote education; tasks related to planning for and implementing remote education will need to be done instead of other tasks that teachers and school leaders have been asked to undertake.
  • Schools should ensure that workload-intensive activities that do not require immediate implementation are deferred to a later date.

  • Schools should make it clear to teachers and school leaders what work or activities should be set aside or delayed, e.g. learning walks and lesson observations.

  • Schools should ensure that arrangements to support teachers (e.g. CPD relating to remote and blended learning, lesson observation of teachers undertaking statutory induction) remain in place.

Schools should undertake workload impact assessments of proposals for remote education and blended learning
  • Schools should integrate workload impact assessments into all planning arrangements, including contingency planning for remote education or blended learning.

  • Schools should undertake regular audits of the school’s remote education and blended learning provision to ensure that it is not increasing teacher and school leader workload and working time.

  • Schools must ensure that teachers’ and school leaders’ workloads are manageable.

Live teaching to pupils in their homes raises issues for privacy and data protection which must be addressed
  • Teachers and school leaders should ensure that any live teaching is consistent with NASUWT advice. Please see the NASUWT Checklist for the Use and Management of Live Streaming.

  • Recordings of online sessions are defined as protected under current legislation and cannot be collected, stored or retrieved without parental permission, or in any other way that does not comply fully with the requirements of the General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR). The consequences of a GDPR breach are potentially very significant.

  • Pupils and/or others present in the home may seek to record an online video session (e.g. on a phone) even if the record function is disabled on the platform, meaning that the school and the teacher are not in control of how that session is used. The NASUWT has received examples of remote lesson recordings being misused, for example being uploaded to a porn site. Therefore, the Union strongly advises members to not participate in live video lessons to pupils’ homes unless they are sure that measures are in place to prevent such inappropriate practices.

  • Teachers will need to consider when it may be appropriate to use the chat function to communicate with individual pupils, rather than responding to the whole class, e.g. providing prompts or support to a pupil who is struggling with a particular task or activity that other pupils have understood or are completing.

Live teaching to pupils in their homes must not undermine a teacher’s control of the lesson or their professionalism
  • The NASUWT has received reports of parents interrupting a live lesson to inform the teacher that their child wants to speak to the teacher and to question the subject matter or quality of the lesson. Such incidents take control of the lesson away from the teacher, shift the focus away from teaching and learning and potentially undermine the professional status of the teacher.

  • Schools should have protocols in place setting out how live lessons will be conducted. The protocol should make it clear that only the class pupils should participate in the lesson and that it is unacceptable for a parent, sibling or other person to interrupt or seek to participate in the lesson. Schools should communicate these expectations to parents and pupils.

Approaches to learning for the small number of pupils accessing school sites because they have been identified as vulnerable or are the children of key workers should be manageable and proportionate. Teachers working from home are able to teach such pupils in school remotely using either synchronous or asynchronous approaches. Schools should ensure that school equipment is used to deliver lessons undertaken by teachers working remotely.
  • Where a teacher works from home and delivers lessons to pupils in school remotely, schools must ensure that such pupils are supervised. For example, a cover supervisor, teaching assistant or another responsible adult should be present on-site to support the teacher working remotely.

  • Approaches other than livestreaming lessons are a potentially effective means of ensuring that all pupils, whether on-site or remotely, are able to access the best possible educational experiences. For example, asynchronous materials provided through the Oak National Academy in England, Glow in Scotland and Hwb in Wales, have been designed specifically to be used without the live presence of a teacher and may be particularly well suited to current circumstances.

  • The purpose of remote teaching however organised, is not to replicate a live lesson. Therefore, it is not appropriate to record live sessions.

  • Remote teaching must not add to the overall workload burden of the teacher working from home.

  • Schools should recognise that teaching remotely represents a very different and challenging form of teaching and normal expectations in respect of teaching and learning should be adjusted accordingly. Schools must not undertake lesson observations of remote teaching or other forms of monitoring that might be used in classroom teaching contexts.

Schools must ensure the safety of pupils but this must not require teachers to telephone pupils or hold one-to-one video conferences
  • Arrangements must be put in place to protect children and young people where there are safeguarding concerns. Teachers who become aware of child protection concerns should follow their school’s established safeguarding procedures. However these arrangements do not mean that a school can require teachers or school leaders to make telephone calls to children or hold one-to-one video conferences with pupils. The NASUWT strongly advises teachers and school leaders to avoid such practices. The personal contact details of members of staff, such as telephone numbers or email addresses must not be shared with pupils.

  • Where it is identified as necessary for a pupil to be engaged with on an individual basis, it will be important to ensure that at least two members of staff are present on any call.
Schools must protect the wellbeing of teachers, including when implementing remote education strategies
  • Employers have a responsibility to consider the physical and mental health and wellbeing of their staff. Schools must recognise that this requires them to adopt measures to minimise and reduce workload burdens of teachers and school leaders.

  • Schools will need to pay particular attention to the pressures on teachers and school leaders as a result of the Covid-19 pandemic in general as well as pressures associated with remote education and blended learning.

  • Schools should not establish systems which require teachers to keep written records of their daily work activities, including activities that are carried out from home.

Frequently asked questions

Workload

Should teachers be expected to take on additional work because the Covid-19 pandemic means that schools are adopting emergency measures?

Q: Should I be expected to teach pupils face-to-face and teach and support pupils who are being educated remotely?
Q: Pupil wellbeing is a significant issue for my school, should I be expected to support pupils’ wellbeing and do all of my usual teaching duties?


Teachers should NOT be expected to undertake all of their normal teaching duties and do additional planning and preparation for remote education and teach remotely. Schools should re-prioritise work so that new responsibilities are undertaken instead of old activities. Schools must give teachers the time that they need to plan, prepare for, and teach pupils who are learning remotely. This may mean that a teacher will need to spend less time teaching face-to-face. It is important that schools do not underestimate the time that may be needed to prepare remote lessons.

There is an expectation that teachers maintain regular contact with the pupils they teach. Support, including that relating to pupil wellbeing, feedback and marking practice should always be manageable for teachers and not distract them other learning-related activities.

Teachers may wish to consider making use of existing audio-visual resources and materials designed specifically to support remote education, such as those available through the Oak Academy, Glow and Wales Hwb for England, Scotland and Wales respectively.

Marking and feedback to pupils

How often should a teacher provide feedback to pupils and how much marking should a teacher undertake?

There is an expectation that teachers maintain regular contact with the pupils they teach. In England, the expectation is that feedback should be provided on at least a weekly basis. However, this does not mean that teachers should undertake detailed marking of pupils’ work or that they need to provide each pupil with detailed feedback about their work.

Feedback and marking practice should always be manageable for teachers and not distract them other learning-related activities.

In normal circumstances, the core purposes of marking and feedback are to support effective teaching and learning by providing pupils with feedback about their performance and enabling teachers to secure high-quality educational experiences for pupils. Schools should not expect teachers to replicate in written form the verbal feedback that pupils would typically be given during typical classroom teaching and learning.

Teachers might employ a range of approaches to providing pupils with feedback about work they have undertaken remotely. For example, teachers might make use of the quizzes and other assessments integrated into some online remote education resources. Online resources such as those produced by the Oak Academy also include hard copy versions of quizzes and assessments. Teachers might also build feedback into lessons e.g. using the chat function on an online platform to provide feedback to individual pupils or groups or pupils or the whole class.

The provisions of the NASUWT’s Covid-19 Workload Checklist (pdf) must be reflected in all remote education activities. In particular, the advice and guidance published by the Union on the principles of effective marking and assessment practice should guide the development of schools’ approaches to the provision of feedback.

While this guidance was developed in the context of practice in England specifically following the publication of the 2016 Teacher Workload Review Group Report on Marking, the Union is clear that the principles underpinning this report apply with equal force across the UK.

Assessment

Should teachers undertake regular assessments of pupils’ remote learning in order to demonstrate pupils’ progress and to fulfil school data-drop requirements?

School assessment policies have been developed for circumstances where pupils are being taught face-to-face. It is not appropriate for schools to simply apply these policies to remote education. In particular, schools should not be using summative assessment tracking systems, or require ‘data-drops’ of assessment outcomes, or set assessment targets where remote education is used.

The main focus of assessment of pupils’ remote learning should be on formative assessment and providing feedback to pupils. This assessment should inform the development of future learning. It should not be used to provide material for school tracking systems.

The key principles that should guide decisions about the use of assessment in remote education are that it should be useful to pupils and their teachers, and that the approach to assessment should be manageable.

Replicating the school timetable online

Should the school seek to replicate the school timetable for bubbles/year groups where pupils are self-isolating after a positive case?

National guidance in each of the UK administrations emphasises the importance of schools providing a broad and balanced curriculum and of paying particular attention to pupils’ wellbeing. While it may be helpful to use the school timetable to guide plans for remote education, it may not be possible or appropriate to replicate the school timetable.

Schools will need to take account of a number of factors when determining what can be provided remotely. This includes the age and independence of the pupils, pupils’ access to technology and a quiet space to learn, the subject and the topics being studied, and the workload demands of learning and teaching online.

In England, the Government guidance Remote education expectations states that KS1 primary pupils are expected to engage in at least three hours and KS2 primary pupils in at least four hours of remote education a day, while secondary pupils should engage in at least five hours of such learning. There is no expectation in any UK jurisdiction that remote education must be provided exclusively through livestreaming or any other form of live learning.

The NASUWT’s Covid-19 Workload Checklist (pdf) makes it clear that all remote learning activities should be subject to an effective workload impact assessment and should ensure that teachers are given sufficient time to plan, prepare and assess remote and blended learning.

Health and safety and the use of screens/digital devices

My school requires me to teach lessons online following the school normal timetable. This means I am often looking at a computer screen continuously for two or more hours. I have been experiencing sore eyes and headaches. Am I entitled to a break?

You must take regular breaks from the computer screen.

Employers must comply with Regulations on the use of display screen equipment (DSE). ‘Display screen equipment’ includes display screens, laptops, touch screens and other similar devices, e.g. tablets, smartphones. The Regulations apply to workers who use DSE daily for more than an hour at a time. This means that the Regulations will apply to teachers who use DSE to teach remotely. It also covers other teaching tasks that are completed using DSE, e.g. planning, marking and assessment.

The Health and Safety Executive (HSE) has produced guidance on the DSE Regulations in response to the Covid-19 pandemic and workers who are working from home temporarily during the pandemic. This can be found on the HSE Protect home workers web page.

Employers should ensure that workers who use DSE have regular breaks from using that equipment. This could be a change of activity or actual breaks. The HSE recommends that workers take short breaks often rather than longer breaks less often (five or ten minutes every 50 to 60 minutes rather than 15 to 20 minutes every two hours). In the case of synchronous approaches to teaching remotely, schools will need to ensure that remote education teaching timetables provide time between lessons for teachers to take adequate breaks from teaching using a screen or device.

The Regulations state that, where possible, employers should provide workers with some discretion over when and how they take breaks. Schools should ensure that they provide teachers with this flexibility. Asynchronous approaches to remote education should help to ensure that teachers have this flexibility.

The DSE Regulations require employers to undertake risk assessments of work stations and the use of DSE to establish health and safety risks and whether measures are effective. While employers are not required to do this for workers who are working from home temporarily during the pandemic, they should provide workers with advice on completing their own assessment. They should take action to ensure that workers are kept safe. Therefore, you should report the problems you are experiencing to your employer.

Teachers should contact the NASUWT for advice if their employer does not take appropriate action to address health and safety issues that they are experiencing, or if their employer is failing to comply with the DSE Regulations more generally.


Lesson observations and appraisal

Should line managers/headteachers observe an online lesson (e.g. a live lesson or a recording of a lesson) in order to judge the quality of the lesson or to appraise a teacher’s performance?

No, it is not appropriate for a line manager to observe an online lesson in order to judge the quality of the lesson or for performance appraisal purposes. There is very limited evidence about what constitutes effective remote education practice. Teachers have received little or no training/CPD on teaching remotely. Some teachers may lack confidence in teaching remotely.

School managers should focus on supporting teachers, including by creating a climate where teachers can collaborate and share experiences and practice about what does and doesn’t work. Punitive and high stakes management practices undermine efforts to create such a climate.

Managing face-to-face and online teaching

What proportion of my timetable should I be expected to spend teaching pupils face-to-face if I am also expected to teach and support pupils who are being educated remotely?

Many of the pupils in my class(es) are attending school during the lockdown. My school expects me to continue to teach my normal classes face-to-face according to the school timetable and then prepare and deliver lessons for pupils who are learning remotely. Is this acceptable?

Schools must give teachers the time that they need to plan, prepare for and teach pupils who are learning remotely. Teachers should NOT be expected to undertake all of their normal teaching duties and do additional planning, preparation for remote education or to teach remotely. Schools should re-prioritise work so that teachers have time to prepare for and provide remote education. This might include reducing their face-to-face teaching time.

Teachers should contact the NASUWT for advice if they are required to undertake work related to remote education in addition to all of their normal duties.

Teaching pupils face-to-face and remotely at the same time

Should I be expected to deliver online classes via a webcam to self-isolating pupils while teaching the rest of my class face-to-face? Should my school ask teachers to allow pupils who are isolating to drop in using the school's online platform?

Recordings of online lessons are defined as protected under GDPR legislation and cannot be collected, stored or retrieved without the permission of the parents of children participating in the lesson. The NASUWT has received examples of lessons being recorded and misused, e.g. recordings being posted on social media and a recording being uploaded to a porn site. Therefore, the Union advises members not to participate in live lessons which are video streamed to pupils’ homes unless measures are in place to prevent inappropriate practices.

The NASUWT does not believe that it is appropriate for a teacher to teach a class of pupils face-to-face and for the lesson to be streamed live so that pupils who are at home can watch the lesson and possibly participate in that lesson remotely. Such an approach raises significant issues for data protection and privacy. It also places unrealistic demands on the class teacher who will be trying to juggle teaching face-to-face with remote teaching and learning, including possibly managing issues related to pupil behaviour in the classroom and/or online.

Remote education and younger pupils

Does remote education to younger primary pupils need to be delivered online?

Teachers will need to establish the learning objectives and then consider the most appropriate medium for pupils to meet those learning objectives. Teachers will also need to take account of the support that a pupil will need when they are learning.

Some elements of the curriculum may not be suited to online learning, e.g. practising writing. Also, the level of support that a young pupil may need in order to participate in learning online, e.g. a parent or adult sitting with them while they undertake the work, may mean that online learning is not appropriate or realistic.

IT equipment and working from home

Should I use my own equipment to teach lessons/mark online and my school is unable to provide the hardware? My laptop is very old and does not work well for live lessons. Should my school provide me with the right equipment?

If a school requires a teacher to teach or work remotely then they should provide the teacher with the appropriate hardware to enable them to carry out the work. The equipment specification must enable the teacher to complete the tasks required.

A teacher should not be expected to purchase equipment to enable them to undertake tasks required by their school.

Teachers may choose to use their own equipment. However, steps must be taken to ensure that this does not compromise personal or school security.

Teaching from home and juggling caring responsibilities

I have emergency childcare/caring responsibilities which make it difficult for me to teach ‘live’ from home. Should my school make allowances for my caring responsibilities when asking me to teach lessons online?

School should take account of the extraordinary circumstances arising from the COVID-19 pandemic. Schools should be flexible wherever possible and should seek to enable teachers to work from home if they have emergency caring responsibilities or who are shielding or who are well but are self-isolating.

Remote teaching does not need to be delivered live. A teacher may pre-record a lesson and make this available to pupils online. This would provide flexibility and allow the teacher to work around their caring responsibilities.

Teachers should normally undertake work, including work related to remote teaching, within their normal working day. The teacher might seek agreement from their line manager that they will undertake work outside their normal working hours instead of working their normal working hours.

Privacy, security and control online

What should schools do to secure the safety of staff from stealth recording software and screenshots?

The school should ensure that digital platforms do not allow pupils to record lessons. The school should have a code of conduct setting out how pupils should behave online and the sanctions that will be used to address inappropriate behaviour. This should make it clear that the school may refer serious incidents to the police or external agencies.

The school should ensure that parents and pupils understand what is and is not acceptable online behaviour. The school should encourage pupils and parents to report any concerns about the inappropriate use of remote lessons, including videos of teaching and learning.

The NASUWT advises teachers to not participate in live video lessons unless they can be sure that the school has measures in place to protect them and prevent inappropriate practices. This includes making it clear to parents that it is not acceptable for them or other family members to interrupt or seek to participate in a lesson.

Teachers should use the NASUWT Checklist for the Use and Management of Live Streaming on the right/below to ensure that their school is implementing appropriate remote education procedures and practices.

Poor pupil engagement in remote education

What should I do if pupils are not participating in online learning or are not completing remote education tasks?

Where pupils are at home because they are self-isolating or because of public health advice, schools are expected to provide remote education and encourage pupils to engage in remote education. School contingency plans should set out the arrangements for monitoring pupil participation in remote education. Schools should monitor pupil engagement in order to identify barriers to participation and consider whether action can be taken to remove the barriers and enable pupils to participate.

Class teachers should not be expected to chase up individual pupils who have not participated in remote education sessions. However, class teachers might share information about pupils who are not participating in remote education with school leaders in order to establish whether the pupil has particular support needs or is facing particular challenges.

In England, the Government’s expectation is that schools have systems in place to quickly identify pupils who are not engaging in remote education and for the school to work with the child’s family to identify effective solutions. In all parts of the UK, while it is good practice to seek to involve parents in matters about their children’s engagement in remote learning, this should not involve teachers spending a disproportionate amount of time chasing up parents of pupils.

Teachers should contact the NASUWT for advice if their school requires them to make daily contact with pupils’ families and this is creating significant workload. Teachers and school leaders should also contact the NASUWT if the requirement to engage with the parents of children who are not completing remote education work is causing conflict between them and pupils’ parents.

Pastoral support to pupils

What should a teacher do to ensure the welfare and wellbeing of pupils they are teaching remotely?

It is particularly important that schools continue to contribute to the welfare and emotional wellbeing of pupils who are not attending on-site provision. However, it is not appropriate for schools to insist that teachers and school leaders make telephone calls or hold one-to-one video-conferences with pupils. No personal contact details of any member of staff, such as a telephone number or email address should be shared with children.

Schools must have arrangements in place to protect children and young people for whom there are safeguarding or child protection or concerns. None of these arrangements require teachers to contact individual pupils directly.

General pastoral and welfare issues may be integrated into online lessons as appropriate.

Staff should continue to follow the school or setting’s established safeguarding procedures if they become aware of any child protection concerns.

Complaints from parents about remote learning

What should the school do if parents are complaining about the amount of remote learning being set or about the quality of remote learning?

The Westminster Government in England has said that parents should raise any concerns they have about the quality of remote education with the school in the first instance, and, if the concerns are not addressed, parents should raise their concerns with Ofsted. The NASUWT considers this advice to be inappropriate.

The advice risks undermining the relationship between the school and parents. It also encourages the spread of misinformation. For example, the NASUWT has received examples of some parents posting complaints about remote education on forums. When the claims have been investigated, it has transpired that the complaints are not founded and that, for example, their children have not completed remote education work that has been set.

It is important that:

  • schools seek to establish constructive relationships with parents;
  • parents are encouraged to support their child’s learning; and
  • parents are encouraged to raise any concerns that they have with the school, including any barriers to their child accessing or engaging with remote education.

Schools should provide parents with clear information about any expectations being made of them and their children. They should also provide information about the challenges and limitations of education in the current pandemic. Schools will need to recognise the challenges that parents may face in supporting remote education and should ensure that parents are encouraged and supported to share information about these difficulties with them.

Schools should have arrangements for dealing with complaints from parents and a senior member of staff, such as the headteacher/principal, or a senior leader with responsibility for remote education should oversee the process. Schools should ensure that parents do not target particular teachers or leaders. Schools should also recognise that remote education is new and a whole-school issue. Where complaints are founded, the focus should be on securing change through support, training and development.

Further advice and support

Teachers and school leaders should contact the NASUWT for advice if they are experiencing difficulties relating to planning for or implementing remote education. This includes concerns that their school is not implementing remote education appropriately and concerns about the impact of remote education on workload and wellbeing:

England: advice@mail.nasuwt.org.uk or telephone: 03330 145550
Northern Ireland: rc-nireland@mail.nasuwt.org.uk
Scotland: rc-scotland@mail.nasuwt.org.uk
Wales: rc-wales-cymru@mail.nasuwt.org.uk

The NASUWT would also welcome feedback on how remote education is operating in practice, including examples of effective approaches and of challenging and poor practice. Please email feedback and evidence to the Education Team.


Footnotes
[1] Oak Academy available at www.thenational.academy
[2] Glow available at glowconnect.org.uk
[3] Wales Hwb available at hwb.gov.wales

Independent Teacher Workload Review Group, Eliminating unnecessary workload around marking available at www.gov.uk/government/publications/reducing-teacher-workload-marking-policy-review-group-report
Independent Teacher Workload Review Group, Eliminating unnecessary workload around marking available at www.gov.uk/government/publications/reducing-teacher-workload-marking-policy-review-group-report
Independent Teacher Workload Review Group, Eliminating unnecessary workload around marking available at www.gov.uk/government/publications/reducing-teacher-workload-marking-policy-review-group-report
Making data work: Teacher workload advisory group report. Available at www.gov.uk/ government/publications/teacher-workload-advisory-group-report-and-government-response