Daily check-ins and four hours’ work a day – DfE to update remote learning expectations


Schools should provide four hours of work a day for self-isolating pupils, with teachers expected to check in daily with every child under planned new government guidance on remote education.

While there is already current guidance on remote learning, Schools Week understands the guidance is now in the process of being updated. It is expected to set clearer expectations for schools around the provision they should offer during the pandemic, and follows calls for clarity on the issue.

The government introduced a legal duty on schools last month to provide “immediate access to remote education” for pupils off school because of coronavirus.

Schools Week understands the guidance will set expectations that three hours of work should be set each day for primary pupils, and four hours for secondary pupils.

The government will also expect teachers to check-in daily with every child off school because of the pandemic. The current guidance states that schools would “ideally” provide pupils “daily contact with teachers”.

While some will welcome further clarity, it comes as new attendance figures show schools – especially those at secondary – are dealing with huge disruption.

Nearly two-thirds of secondary schools reported having pupils off because of coronavirus last week – almost double the number reported in the week before.

In Hull, an area particularly hard-hit, one in four children are absent from school, the Guardian reported.

Some schools are also struggling to stay open, with staff absences forcing closure in some cases. Government has also been accused of not providing enough laptops for disadvantaged pupils without devices at home, before it decided to slash allocations.

But the government has been under pressure to set out its expectations on home learning, amid concerns that not all schools are doing enough.

Government has also said Ofsted will look at remote learning when inspections restart – with a need to set out specific expectations of what is required.

Correction: We have removed a line stating ‘we understand the new advice will be published this week’. We have replaced this with ‘Schools Week understands the guidance is in the process of being updated’.


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  1. Andrew Stanley

    Obviously the requirement to teach face to face, provide on-line/remote work and telephone absent students is ridiculous and unfeasible. The only plausible reason for this, with Covid-19 out of control and Brexit hurtling towards us, is to find a distraction and pick a fight with school staff and unions. Johnson can then obfuscate and avoid blame while providing covering fire for more dodgy contracts being awarded.

  2. Personally I think that students should be contacted once a week (more if they are vulnerable or possibly at risk), phone calls can be made by SLT, office staff, TAs, Teachers, pastoral care workers etc, with online work set by the teachers or zoom meetings so that the child can still be in class, still ask and answer questions etc.
    During the first lockdown my youngest had no contact from the school during the whole 3 or 4 months up until the end of school summer term. I am still livid about it now!

  3. Alan Moore

    A ridiculous stance to take without properly ensuring that ALL young people have access to the right hardware.
    I work in a wonderful but rather disadvantaged one form entry primary school on the border with North London. We were promised 15 laptops which wouldn’t even come close to supporting our children. This was then reduced to three!! We also have 60% EAL so that communication outside of the school with our families can be challenging. How do the DfE expect me and my colleagues to support out community without giving us the tools to do this properly? Most of our children try to complete set online work with their parent’s smart phones. It is not practical or fair to implement such a ridiculous rule without consideration and support for individual settings. Another utterly brainless suggestion by a rudderless, sinking ship.

  4. How can teachers contact children daily who are off? Is this the children who are off and the bubble us in? That would be ridiculous!! Once again, this comes from people who have no clue about what it is to be a teacher. I spent any break cleaning down surfaces and areas in the corridors near my room, marking work and trying to help children close gaps… Gaps that if they had accessed the work provided wouldn’t necessarily exist.
    The country will start losing teachers with all of the added stress and pressure which continues to be added without a care for our mental health.

  5. Benny James

    Any teacher who actually cares about their job, who is in that profession for the right reason, not just the salary and holidays, but for the welfare and enhancing of children’s lives would have no issues with checking in on pupils daily. The majority of teachers seem to be hoping that Covid will provide them with a rest period, much like that worker who cannot wait to leave the office when there’s a hint of snow. As someone who works with vulnerable people, I know only too well how important it is for young people and children to have someone looking out for them, often children feel let down by the education system, and without teachers looking out, but reinforcing their feeling of being less important than any other members of society, they have little hope and this will forever instill a hatred for school. As a parent, the lockdown has proved how little enthusiasm for their jobs most teachers appear to have, Mickey Mouse work sent out and no checks from teachers or school workers. I understand the lack of home resources adds to this frustration and this is appalling. Laptops are not luxury items in today’s world. Every child should have access to one. So why aren’t the teachers doing more to lobby for this rather than making excuses for not being able to do their jobs?