Whilst the need to keep children in engaged in learning is important, we cannot apply a ‘one size fits all’ and expect it work seamlessly…

We have recently been inundated with enquiries of concern from parents and teachers relating to the building pressures to educate children at home during the COVID-19 related school closures.

The majority of schools are showing understanding that most parents are not able to educate to the same level that one can expect from a Teacher in a classroom. There are many reasons for this, the most obvious include:

Many schools are using novel and innovative ways to ensure pupils remain engaged in a modified educational curriculum. Unfortunately practices are not uniform across the country or indeed across schools.

Growing pressures on parents and teachers…

We have seen a minority of schools placing pressure on parents to educate at home. In the most extreme of examples, we have seen parents receive texts, e-mails and telephone calls from schools’ chasing until work has been completed. Whilst some parents are able to dedicate significant amounts of time to their child’s learning during the day, others for a magnitude of justifiable reasons are not. We are currently living through uncharted times, and whilst education remains extremely important, the mental health and well-being of our children is imperative. Their mental health and happiness must be the key focus at this time.

We are growing concerned by the number of teachers who are at breaking point, more so than when they were in the classroom. A number are now expected to deliver a curriculum remotely, whilst managing their own families and mental health with some employers demanding timesheets of their working week along with non-negotiable demands, such as teachers returning to training to obtain CPD points.

Right now, the nation is dealing with a global pandemic. The majority, if not all of us, are overwhelmed with anxiety and endless questions that cannot be answered.

No legal obligation…

It is important to note that whilst parents are doing their best, there is no legal obligation on parents to educate their children at home, during this pandemic. Whilst schools may consider they are being proactive in contacting parents to ensure work has been complete, for a number of families this has placed increased stress and pressure on the household.

Unfortunately, one size does not fit all and we would encourage schools to positively engage with parents and respect parents wishes as to how they consider their child most appropriately learns, whilst at home.

Learning can be achieved in an array of methods and contexts, it does not necessarily involve completion of work provided by a school. We would emphasise our advice that there is no legal obligation on parents to ensure any work deadlines set by schools are met by their children, whilst the school is closed as a consequence of the ongoing pandemic.

We would recommend that where any difficulties arise schools and parents communicate in a co-operative manner in the child’s best interests, and parental wishes are respected.

The purpose of this blog is to alleviate anxiety among parents, advise as to the legal position and promote better working practices among the minority of schools who are adding to parents distress.

Please feel free to share this blog, we are more than happy to answer any questions parents or schools may have on this topic, please get in touch by clicking here.

This blog was written by Chrissa Wadlow (founding Director of Sunshine Support) and Kevin McManamon (Senior Associate Solicitor at Geldards LLP, specialist in Education law and Mental Capacity law).

You can contact both Chrissa and Kevin by email here.