Schools new legal duty to provide remote education – Friday 2 October 2020

This week I report on the new legal duty for schools to provide remote education for school age children who can’t attend due to Covid-19, the removal of the outstanding inspection exemption and a new inquiry in home learning being carried out by the Education Select Committee.

Schools legal duty to provide remote education
Yesterday the DfE published a temporary continuity direction under the Coronavirus Act 2020 saying it would provide legal certainty for all involved in the education sector and makes clear schools have a legal duty to provide remote education for state-funded, school-age children unable to attend school due to coronavirus (Covid-19).

The direction comes into force on 22 October and will have effect until the end of the current school year unless it is revoked by a further direction.

Removal of the outstanding exemption
The Government has published its response to the consultation on removing the inspection exemption for outstanding schools which was carried out in January and February this year. The Government will now seek Parliamentary approval to remove the exemption and outstanding schools will start to be inspected again when Ofsted inspections resume next year. All formerly exempt schools must now receive an initial full inspection or short inspection within six years.

Education Select Committee inquiry into home learning
This week MPs launched an inquiry into home learning which will include looking at the role inspections should play in the future regulation of home educating.

In April 2019, the Government published a consultation on proposed legislation concerning children not in school, which included a proposal for a register of children not attending mainstream schools, maintained by local authorities, but has not yet published its response.

The Education Select Committee is now inviting written submissions, including on the duties of local authorities and the advantages and disadvantages children may face from home education. It is also asking for submissions on the role inspection should play in future regulation of home education and the support, including financial support, available for home educators and their children.