Speed read: What Ofsted says works well in remote learning


Ofsted has released a short guide for schools on what is working well within remote education.

The piece, by the watchdog’s deputy director Daniel Muijs, is based on research and visits to schools. It comes as Ofsted looks to roll out new ‘supportive’ monitoring inspections in person from next Monday.

This is what you need to know:


1. Live lessons not ‘gold standard’ of remote education

Ofsted say live lessons have a number of advantages, such as making it easier to align the curriculum and keeping pupils’ attention.

But such practice can make it “hard to build in interaction and flexibility”, which means feedback can be less effective than using recorded segments followed by interactive tasks.

Muijs added that because pupils find it harder to concentrate when being taught remotely “filming a classroom lesson may be ineffective”, and it is better to divide content into smaller chunks.

2. Use tech to automate pupil check-ins …

The guide explains that feedback and assessment are “still as important as in the classroom”, but can be harder to deliver remotely.

Ofsted states it is important for teachers to stay in regular contact with pupils and this can be done by “using technology to automate communication”.

It adds: “Some teachers have set up automated check-in emails to pupils to identify where they are with set tasks. This also gives a perception that teachers are ‘watching’ while pupils learning remotely.”


3. … But there is only so much a teacher can do to engage

Ofsted has warned there is “only so much a teacher can do to engage pupils remotely” and told schools to “make sure that efforts to engage don’t distract us from teaching the curriculum”.

“We also need to check whether pupils have actually learned the content we want them to through assessment”, it adds.

4. Let children chat to ‘maintain social skills’

According to the guide, peer interaction can provide motivation and also improve leaning outcomes.

Ofsted advises schools consider enabling chat group and video-linking functions to allow for interaction. Such practice will also “help pupils maintain their social skills”, it states.


5. Pupils engage more when using laptops

The guide states that pupils using a laptop tend to spend longer accessing a remote lesson than those using a phone or tablet.

Due to this, schools must “think carefully about whether pupils have access to the right kind of device when we’re using digital remote education”.

If schools cannot provide enough devices, “it might be better to consider non-digital approaches as well”.


6. Youtube may distract pupils

Muijs advises schools consider where they choose to host content so pupils are not more easily distracted.

“We need to consider whether we avoid hosting video lessons on certain platforms like YouTube, for example, because of their advertising algorithms distracting pupils”, he adds.


7. Don’t forget the textbook!

The guide advises that sometimes it may be more effective “to deliver remote education through worksheets or a textbook”.

It states “a good textbook can provide the curriculum content and sequencing pupils need” and will be easier to access for some pupils. However, teachers should still provide feedback.



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  1. Kumba bah

    Ofsted is right in all the above some school will just sent a link from YouTube for the kids to learn the whole day . I have three kids in primary education and are think the effort from school is not effective kids needs text book to learn more effectively which is better for them Many thanks.

  2. T Joris

    I am a secondary music teacher. I feel completely frazzled by a full timetable of online lessons in which I am interacting with students and solving technical issues every minute of every lesson. I also had 6 hours of parents evening appointments just this week, plus a line management meeting and I have had to respond to countless parent emails following letters I sent home. Further to this, much of my planned material cannot be delivered in the same way, so planning is up as well. I also have two children under 5, so I’m parenting every spare minute. I feel stretched, to say the least.