Schools have now had to start the Summer Term with most students being educated remotely.
Each school will have different considerations, depending on their operation and method of delivering remote learning. We have developed a note intended to provide guidance on the main considerations which can be found on our OnStream portal. We would recommend that schools write to staff and students, and we have developed some draft letters to assist with this.
We are aware that some teachers and teaching unions have raised concerns about the expectations that are being placed on staff during this period. Schools do need to ensure that they balance delivery of their educational and pastoral provision with the health, safety and well-being of staff and ensure that all data protection and safeguarding risks have been identified, assessed and appropriately managed.
We have highlighted some of the main considerations:
There is no legal reason that staff cannot be asked to undertake in live streaming of lessons. However, it is important that the platform being used has been assessed for data protection and privacy compliance and risks and steps taken to appropriately manage all identifiable risks. You would not usually expect live streamed lessons to be recorded.
Staff should also be given some practical tips - for example, reminding staff to position their camera such that nothing is on display that they would not want others to see. Some platforms will allow staff to present a neutral or blurred background.
Staff should also be given guidance on how protect and look after confidential information. For example, making sure that papers are kept somewhere safe, not using personal phone or email for school work, saving and accessing documents remotely through the school network and not downloading them locally to their personal computer. Points such as these should already be covered in the school's homeworking or information security policy.
Live 1:1 contact with students will not usually be appropriate or required for the delivery of education. Should circumstances warrant any live 1:1 contact, then this should be agreed in advance and if a situation arises then staff should be asked to notify an appropriate school representative as far as possible.
There may be circumstances when 1:1 contact may be appropriate for pastoral reasons, but this should usually have been identified and agreed in advance.
Staff should be reminded of the Code of Conduct and Acceptable Use policies and consideration given to any aspects which need to be reinforced or varied to reflect the different methods of working. Some members of staff may need to use their own devices, but they should still not share their personal contact details, or interact with pupils on social media.
In order to protect staff and pupils, we would recommend that schools remind pupils and parents of the protocols around home learning and responsible use. This is likely to include requests not to record or capture images of staff, a reminder around acceptable behaviours online and an expectation that concerns will be reported.
For specialist legal advice on working from home during the coronavirus pandemic, please contact Alice Reeve in our Academies team on 0117 314 5383, or complete the form below.