Undertaking remote teaching safely

Last updated: 21 Apr 2020 Topics: News Type: News

This is a really challenging time for everyone. With schools all over the UK closing due to coronavirus (COVID-19), we’ve received enquiries about safeguarding pupils. Safeguarding remains as important as ever, especially as the usual child protection systems are under increased pressure.

Schools are understandably worried about keeping children safe while teaching in an unusual setting and we're being asked a lot about remote teaching and online learning. So we’ve pulled together some resources to help. Other teachers and tutors who don’t normally work in schools should also find these resources useful.

Our resources are based on best practice and government guidance where available. But we recognise that people have had to change the way they work very quickly. We suggest you think about how you can apply these best practice principles in the most realistic way at this moment in time.

You should think about how you can build these safeguards into your new way of working over the next few weeks.

We are looking at how we can best support people working with children during this difficult time and we’re in ongoing discussions with the government to ensure that all children are kept safe whether at school or in the community.

Remote teaching

In England, the Department for Education (DfE) has no expectation that teachers should livestream or pre-record lessons. Schools should consider the approaches that best suit the needs of their pupils and staff (DfE, 20201).

If you do plan to record or livestream lessons via an online platform, you need to assess any risks and take appropriate actions to minimise harm.

Things to consider include:

Where is the recording taking place?

Teachers should be in a neutral area where nothing personal or inappropriate can be seen or heard in the background.

Which platform will you use?

Always make sure the platform you are using is suitable for the children’s age group. Set up school accounts for any online platforms you use (don’t use teachers’ personal accounts). Check the privacy settings.

> Read our information to make sure you know how to livestream safely

Consent

Make sure parents, carers and children understand the benefits and risks of online lessons and get written consent for children to be involved.

> Tailor our example consent form to your needs

Contacting children at home

While schools are closed staff might need to contact children individually, for example to give feedback on homework. Staff should only contact children during normal school hours, or at times agreed by the school leadership team (DfE, 20202).

Remind staff of your code of conduct and make it clear how you expect them to behave.

> Look at our example behaviour code for adults working with children

Any one-to-one sessions, for example pastoral care meetings, should be risk assessed and approved by the school’s leadership team (DfE, 20203). Make sure staff know what safeguarding measures to take if they are having a one-to-one conversation with a child.

> Read our information about one-to-one contact

Use parents’ or carers’ email addresses or phone numbers to communicate with children, unless this poses a safeguarding risk. Use school accounts to communicate via email or online platforms, never teachers’ personal accounts.

Make sure any phone calls are made from a blocked number so teacher’s personal contact details are not visible.

If staff members are accessing families’ contact details at home, ensure they comply with the Data Protection Act 2018.

Child protection concerns

Remind all your staff of your safeguarding and child protection policy and procedures.

Check that everyone is able to contact your nominated child protection lead and deputy if they have any concerns about a child. This may be because:

  • a staff member sees or hears something worrying during an online lesson
  • a child discloses abuse during a phone call or via email.

Your nominated child protection lead should keep a note of any contact numbers they may need while the school is closed, for example children’s social care and the local police.

Remember that anyone can contact our helpline for advice if they are worried about a child’s wellbeing. Our trained professionals will talk through your concerns with you and take action to protect the child if necessary. You can call us on 0808 800 5000 or email help@nspcc.org.uk.

> Find more about recognising and responding to abuse 

Online safety

Children and young people are likely to spend more time online due to social distancing. Talk to them regularly about the benefits and risks of the online world and give them space to ask questions and talk about anything that worries them.

> Find out more about e-safety for schools

> Take our online training about keeping children safe online 

Mental health and wellbeing

Children and young people may be worried about the impact of coronavirus, social distancing or self-isolation. Those who already have mental health difficulties such as anxiety might be finding things particularly tough. Talk to them about what’s happening, check how they’re feeling and keep them as well informed as you can.

> Find out how to have difficult conversations with children

Tell children and young people where they can go if they are worried about anything or need to talk to someone while school is closed.

Childline provides a range of online tools that young people might find helpful:

Childline can also give confidential help and advice. Calls to 0800 1111 are free or children can get support online.

References

Department for Education (DfE) (2020) Safeguarding and remote education during coronavirus (COVID-19). [Accessed 20/04/2020].
Department for Education (DfE) (2020) Safeguarding and remote education during coronavirus (COVID-19). [Accessed 20/04/2020].
Department for Education (DfE) (2020) Safeguarding and remote education during coronavirus (COVID-19). [Accessed 20/04/2020].