Mandatory remote teaching could reduce inequality during the pandemic – but delivering it will be difficult
The lives of millions of parents and children were turned upside down when COVID-19 forced school lockdowns in April 2020. With a new national lockdown announced for England on January 4 2021, many parents and schools have once again been caught unprepared.
This time, however, schools in England are legally obliged to provide remote or online teaching, which may include video lessons and other online or offline resources such as tasks and workbooks. What’s more, the education secretary, Gavin Williamson, has suggested that parents should report schools to education regulator Ofqual if they believe the remote teaching being offered to their child is of a low standard.
While Williamson’s proposal is misguided – parents and schools should be encouraged to work together during such a difficult time – the government has employed the right policy by enacting the legal duty for schools to provide remote teaching. Remote teaching is likely to be particularly important for underprivileged children.
But the burdens currently placed on schools – which are expected to provide remote teaching as well as face-to-face instruction for the children of key workers – makes this task extremely difficult.
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