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updated on 5 October 2020
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School types: All · School phases: All

Find out what to expect from your remote learning policy, and questions to ask when approving it, so you can be confident that your school has clear and consistent expectations.

5 October: we reviewed this article to make sure it remains current. 

The DfE expects your school to have a contingency plan for providing education to pupils remotely if they are: 

  • Self-isolating 
  • Required to stay at home due to local coronavirus restrictions

Your school leaders may use a remote learning policy to support their contingency planning, so they're ready to provide immediate remote education if the need arises.

Key facts

  • This policy is non-statutory but, given the current situation, your school leaders will probably create/update a policy to set out your school's approach to remote learning
  • You can delegate the approval of this policy to an individual or committee
  • The board determines the review cycle
  • The headteacher and senior leadership team will write and be responsible for the implementation of this policy

Main points to look out for

Below we suggest what might be included in a remote learning policy but, since it’s not statutory, policies can vary.

It’s not meant as a guide for writing a policy, since that’s your school leaders’ job, but use it to give you a sense of what you’re looking for.

Roles and responsibilities

Who will do what under the policy, such as:

  • Governing board – monitor the school’s approach to providing remote learning and make sure staff are certain that systems are secure
  • Teachers – set work, provide feedback, keep in touch with pupils and parents, and attend virtual meetings with staff
  • Pupils and parents – be contactable during the required times, complete work to set deadlines and seek help from teachers/the school when needed

Data protection

How staff can make sure that data is kept secure, such as:

  • Accessing data on a secure cloud service or network
  • Sharing as little personal data as possible online
  • Keeping devices safe, e.g. making sure they’re password protected and encrypted, and installing antivirus software

References to other policies, including safeguarding

The policy may set out safeguarding arrangements for remote learning, or it may point to where this information can be found (most likely your child protection policy or addendum to it).

Other policies it may link to include:

  • Behaviour policy
  • Data protection policy
  • ICT and internet acceptable use policy
  • Online safety policy

Key questions to challenge the policy

In addition to the kinds of questions you'd usually cover when approving a policy, ask:

1. Does this policy match up with our contingency plan and cover how the school will meet expectations for the quality of remote education?

This policy should work in tandem with your school's contingency plan.

For example, your policy might include that teachers set a programme that's of equivalent length to the core teaching pupils would receive in school. 

For more information on what the DfE's expectations are for remote learning, take a look at our article.

2. Is there a chance this policy might have a negative impact on staff wellbeing and workload? If so how will you avoid this?

This policy shouldn't add more pressure.

School leaders should be able to explain how this policy was created with wellbeing in mind (e.g. outlining working hours staff are expected to follow to encourage work-life balance).

Leaders should also explain how they intend to monitor staff wellbeing and remote learning workload. And you'll also want to assure yourselves that staff know who to turn to when they need support.

3. Does the policy take into account the challenges of working from home?

School leaders should be able to explain how the policy gives room for flexibility due to different home circumstances (e.g. if staff care for a dependent).

You'll also want to know that staff, pupils and parents know how to notify someone if there’s an issue e.g. if they have limited access to devices/the internet, or are unable to meet a deadline.

4. How will you make sure everyone who needs to read this policy has done so? 

School leaders should be able to explain how relevant parties:

  • Will be notified of their expectations and responsibilities under the policy
  • Can raise any issues they have with these
  • Can get assistance with any technical questions or problems

5. How will we know this policy is working and that it's being properly implemented?

School leaders should be able to explain:

  • Key objectives of the policy and how success will be measured
  • How implementation will be monitored and reported

6. How will governors monitor the implementation of this policy?

Take your lead from senior leaders for how best to monitor this policy.

For example, leaders may update the chair on how they're implementing the policy, and expect the chair to update the full board. But remember, the way your school will want you to monitor may vary.

Model policy

As noted above, you’re not expected to write this, but you can take a look at our model to get an idea of what a good policy might look like:

Examples from other schools

Take a look at the approaches taken by other schools:

Approve it remotely

If you're approving this policy as a full board or committee, you'll likely follow the same procedure as you normally would in a face-to-face meeting – but double check with your local authority or trust in case they have specific guidance for virtual meetings.

If you’re the chair: make sure the meeting remains quorate for the duration of the discussion and vote (i.e. no dropped connections that mean the meeting isn't quorate).

Find out more about running remote meetings.

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