Coronavirus: DfE admits home-learners may suffer once some pupils return to school

The DfE promised 1.3 million free laptops for pupils in need by the end of March but missed the target.

Reopening primary schools to more pupils means the quality of home education offered to those who aren’t allowed back in yet is likely to suffer, the government has admitted.

New guidance on reopening schools, published tonight, states many schools have been able to offer “high-quality remote education opportunities or programmes over recent weeks”.

The government wants primary schools to open to pupils in reception, year 1 and year 6 from June 1, meaning more staff will be needed to provide face-to-face teaching.

According to the guidance, this means that it “may be more difficult to maintain the same level of remote education provision for pupils in the year groups who are not eligible to attend, or for those pupils in year groups who are eligible to attend but who themselves cannot.”

The government has also advised schools in this situation to consider using the online classes provided by the Oak National Academy or other platforms to provide additional support.

They also suggested looking at how learning delivered in school, “if manageable, could be made available to pupils learning remotely”.

The government had previously said it wanted schools to “use their best endeavours” to ensure pupils who don’t return before the summer are still able to access online learning.

The NAHT union has said this presents “very clear and obvious challenges”, adding the impact additional children has on the school’s ability to support home learning should be a “key consideration”.

A poll by Teacher Tapp, from earlier in lockdown at the end of March, found nearly half of primary teachers had set work for their pupils via an online learning platform. The second most popular method to set work in primary was via physical workbooks or worksheets.

The NAHT has advised leaders to be “very mindful of the feasibility and workload implications for staff when it comes to balancing school and home provision”.

They suggest using a “light-touch approach” to home activities for pupils in the attending year groups.

The government’s expectations are less likely to cause a headache for secondary schools and colleges, which have been told to offer year 10 and 12s some “face to face” support from next month.

Education secretary Gavin Williamson has explained all children in those year group should have the opportunity to go into school to speak with their teachers so they can assess what learning and support they need over the following weeks.

For the other returning pupils, guidance states leaders are “best placed to make decisions about how to support and educate their pupils during this period”. It adds: “No school will be penalised if they are unable to offer a broad and balanced curriculum to their pupils during this period.”

Your thoughts

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *


  1. Further proof, if any were even needed, that schools aren’t being opened more widely for educational benefits.
    Not in children’s best interests educationally, emotionally, mentally, socially or physically. Compelling scientific evidence that it’s not safe to open more widely (ONS shows children are actually more likely to catch the virus). No scientific evidence provided from the government as to the safety they claim exists. Claims that PPE wouldn’t be required yet an admission that social distancing is impossible.
    If it weren’t so dangerous then it would be farcical!

  2. Bob Roberts

    It is clear that the Government is only opening schools as a way to free-up the time of children’s parents, whom they wish to return to work. It is clear that there are no realistic plans to protect the children or school staff but neither are their any plans to protect the working adults.
    No realistic plan to prevent children bringing infection back into the home but equally no realistic measures to prevent adults from getting infected in the workplace. Added to this, the fact that we still cannot see a realistic “test,track,trace” process in place, to allow the country to react intelligently to any new spikes.
    They are putting the cart before the horse for the benefit of the “economy” and it has nothing to do with teaching or educational outcomes.

  3. Ellie

    Teachers need to get back to work. Children are missing out big time on their education. All other key workers are actively at work on the frontline. Schools are safer than anything our doctors, nurses, social care workers etc are having to deal with. Stop wingeing and find a solution not keep bringing problems to the table.

  4. I think it two soon for the kids to go back to school I think it should reopening school in September time and keep tthe kids safe and techeal and keep doing home school going and free school meal going so the kids will never go hugger

  5. Andrew Foster

    No wonder everyone scuttles back under their front doors screaming “stop trying to kill me!” and clapping at the sky like deranged seals!
    Schooling is just state indoctrination anyway. let them be home schooled – they might actually learn something useful for once and become way more capable of interacting with the adult world, instead of becoming brainwashed order followers that run and hide never to be seen again, due to a BAD case of the FLU!