COVID-19: The State of Remote Learning in Education

The coronavirus pandemic is making it a challenge for teachers and education professionals to deliver education to students. With the lack of contact, budgetary and technological constraints as well as communication difficulties, delivering a curriculum can be tough. However, it isn’t impossible as remote learning has quickly become the norm for many schools.

Here are some examples of remote learning in education along with resources and inspiration to help enhance your institution’s remote learning offering.

The State of Remote Learning

After the first national lockdown, a report by the National Foundation for Educational Research (NFER) found that 60% of pupils were in regular contact with their teachers, with 40% not having returned their last piece of work. There are a number of worries about remote learning in the country, with many pupils not engaging with the work set for them.

For example, the report found:

  • Pupil engagement is lowest in schools with the highest level of deprivation.
  • In these schools, only 30% of pupils returned their last piece of work, compared to around 50% of pupils in the least deprived schools.
  • 55% of pupils’ parents are engaged with their remote learning.
  • 48% of parents of secondary pupils are engaged with their work, compared to 56% of primary pupils’ parents.
  • Pupil engagement is higher in primary schools than in secondary schools.
  • 23% of pupils are struggling with limited access to IT, which can be either lack of devices or poor broadband connectivity.

Fears are growing about the disparity of educational efficiency and engagement, with a big divide between poorer and richer communities. Another study from University College London Institute of Education estimated around two million pupils in the UK have either completed no schoolwork or done less than an hour a day.

Fortunately for teachers and education professionals, there’s a wealth of resources and advice out there to aid in remote learning strategies.

Best Practices for Remote Learning

In May 2020, the Department of Education provided guidance called ‘Examples of teaching practice during coronavirus (COVID-19)’. It was released as an ‘opportunity for schools to learn from each other's emerging practice as they develop their approaches to providing remote education’.

There’s no obligation for teachers to adopt the guidance. However, it does offer a well-developed view of what’s been implemented and what’s working around the country. Here are just some of the key points:

  • When familiarising pupils and parents with new remote learning strategies, do so in a phased manner. This could mean consolidating the knowledge on old topics as a way to get pupils used to the new format, rather than immediately focusing on new work.
  • Promote accessibility and inclusivity within remote learning. For example, if you’re using a learning platform, inquire as to whether it includes speech-to-text or text-to-speech functions.
  • Use quizzes, digital tools and provide modelling of good answers. This helps to add formative assessment and feedback into teaching.
  • Realise that remote learning is not a one-size-fits-all approach. Seek out which pupils need different techniques to your standard offering.
  • Make sure educational resources can be accessed in a range of formats.

Success Story: Leicestershire County Council and Homeschooling Resources

In some locations, remote learning in education has been very successful, but it needs to maintain buy-in from multiple parties. Not just teachers, but also parents, local charities and even county councils. For example, homeschooling has been a success for children in Leicestershire.

This was possible because Leicestershire County Council’s Family Learning Team made resources easily accessible for parents and carers. The team redesigned the online learning platform they used for adults, opening it up for younger learners and establishing free resources and activities.

Remote Learning Resources

Teachers need effective resources to continue educating their students. For example, the UK Government has created a list of learning resources for English, maths, science and PE lessons. They’ve also invested in two notable online resources students and teachers can utilise - BBC Bitesize and Oak National Academy.

BBC Bitesize

BBC Bitesize is currently running a service called Bitesize Daily, which is providing new lessons every weekday for students ranging in age from Year 1 to Year 10.

It consists of interactive activities and videos that cover core subjects and related topics that are likely to make up a school curriculum. Content is easily accessible, being available on television, online and through BBC iPlayer.

Oak National Academy

The Oak National Academy is an online learning platform created by a mixture of teachers and organisations across the country. It offers video lessons and resources to help teachers deliver high-quality remote learning for their pupils.

Oak National Academy delivers the equivalent of three hours of lessons per day for primary schools students. For secondary school students, it provides four hours across a wide variety of topics.

Education professionals are facing many challenges during the coronavirus pandemic. For more information on how COVID-19 is affecting the state of education in the UK and how organisations are responding, you can explore our guide.