Online education

How can schools provide quality online education?

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The UK children’s online education services sector has grown rapidly in recent years. How can you ensure that your school keeps up with this growth while maintaining high quality teaching standards?

Full-time online education is only suitable for a small number of students, but even then it is usually offered for a short period of time before students return to face-to-face attendance. In some situations, online learning may be the best option. For example:

• School-wide closures or reduced attendance due to inclement weather or high staff absentee rates.
• If the student is recovering from a short term infection.
• If the student is preparing for or recovering from surgery or injury.
• In exceptional cases, where the student is affected by a special educational need, disability or mental health problem.

Schools may already have distance learning plans in place as a result of work during the COVID-19 pandemic, but new data from the School Infections Survey found that more than 40% of parents of elementary school students 38% of 4 middle school students feel their child finds distance learning ‘difficult’ or ‘very difficult’.

In order to improve the experience of online learners, schools should regularly review existing plans to ensure they are adaptable to the individual needs and circumstances of students learning online and their families. Additionally, schools are responsible for ensuring that:

• The jobs offered during the distance learning period are of high quality, ambitious and cover an adequate range of subjects.
• The length of remote work is the same as the core teaching hours students receive in school.
• Consider the influence of the student’s age, health status, home environment and learning needs when setting up work.
• Students without access to online or digital distance learning are supported to overcome these barriers. This may include the distribution of school-owned devices such as laptops and tablets, and the provision of printed materials.

Online education certification system

To reassure students, parents and local governments about the quality of the online education that schools offer, the DfE has established an online education accreditation system. The scheme encourages schools offering online education to meet high educational standards and safeguards by awarding accreditation based on how well they meet a new set of online education standards. This scheme consists of her two elements:

• Establishing non-statutory standards for the provision of online education.
• Examination of the provider against these standards by Ofsted, which acts as the quality assurance body appointed by the department.

This scheme will start in two phases:

• Phase 1: Providers have time to familiarize themselves with guidance on how the scheme will work and meet the criteria.
• Phase 2: In this phase, scheme applications are initiated. Scheduled for early 2023.

All inspection reports are issued by Ofsted and accredited providers obtain information on school registers for UK schools and universities.

The school will pay for the suitability check and accreditation visit. Details of the scheme’s application process and fee structure will be announced shortly. The scheme will be open to schools that:

• Teach permanently online only.
• Provide a complete curriculum or represent your child’s primary or sole source of education.
• At least one full-time student of compulsory school age is based in the UK (regardless of the number of learners based abroad).
• have a physical presence in England and are registered with Companies House or the Charity Commission;

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