Ofsted has commended schools’ “flexibility and innovation” in how they’ve rolled out their remote education offering, while acknowledging the significant challenge of keeping pupils engaged and motivated.
It follows Ofsted’s in-depth study on remote education, in which nearly half of parents said keeping their child focused on studying was a top concern, along with motivation and having enough contact with teachers.
These concerns were also raised by school leaders, with many already working hard to increase pupils’ engagement and find better ways for pupils and teachers to interact.
Commenting on the report’s findings, Her Majesty’s Chief Inspector, Amanda Spielman, said: “While remote education will help to mitigate the learning lost when children are out of the classroom, it’s clear that pupils’ motivation and engagement remain issues. These, along with the pressure remote learning places on teachers and parents, are proving real barriers to children’s learning and development.”
Parents and schools are particularly concerned about children with special educational needs and/or disabilities (SEND). Nearly two thirds of parents of a child with SEND said they had been disengaged with remote learning, compared with almost 40% of parents of children without additional needs.
However, school leaders were optimistic that challenges could be overcome, stressing that levels of pupil engagement and expectations should be the same regardless. Some even argued that the breadth and depth of the curriculum should not be compromised or narrowed for remote education.
Teachers were proud of their efforts so far, with three fifths stating they were confident they were providing a high-quality remote education when this was needed. However, the report noted a “wide variability in the remote learning on offer”.
Although remote provisions were forced upon schools by the coronavirus pandemic, many leaders believe the work that has gone into making the adaptations will have long-term benefits such as providing teaching for snow days or extended periods of illness or absence, in order to minimise learning loss.