Many teachers find online lessons difficult

Lots of teachers found it difficult to deliver lessons online during the first lockdown, with many students without access to tech, says Ecclesiastical

A large number of teachers are finding it difficult to deliver lessons online, with one of the biggest challenges being the number of students without tech, according to Ecclesiastical.

The insurance firm, which insures many education sites, surveyed 500 teachers across the UK and found that 85% of them said online teaching is a challenge.

Faith Kitchen, education director at Ecclesiastical Insurance, said: “As one of the leading insurers of schools in the UK, Ecclesiastical is passionate about supporting the education sector. Our latest research has found that many teachers find conducting lessons online challenging and a quarter of the teachers we surveyed expressed concerns about an increased safeguarding risk from delivering lessons online.”

When England entered its first lockdown in March 2020, schools were forced to close without much warning and deliver lessons online, a situation which has been repeated at the beginning of 2021.

Ecclesiastical’s research found 66% of schools provided online lessons during England’s first lockdown in 2020.

While some have been able to learn and adapt from the first lockdown, many are still struggling to deliver online learning for a number of reasons.

Students not having devices for online learning or not having reliable internet access, and being able to motivate students remotely, were cited amongst the biggest challenges for teachers when trying to conduct lessons online.

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Almost a third of teachers have received more communications via email from students while teaching remotely, and 31% also claimed it can be difficult to supervise students in online lessons.

Schools were already short of technology before the pandemic, with teachers calling for more tech and training. While some students have the technology to learn from home, an estimated 1.14 million to 1.78 million children in the UK don’t have access to a laptop or device for home schooling, and 7% of households can only access the internet through mobile connectivity.

The government has been issuing free devices to schools for children who are without the technology for home schooling, and government-funded National Centre for Computing Education (NCCE) has been helping to train teachers, who in the past have expressed concerns over their ability to teach topics such as coding, to deliver the computing curriculum.

But around 20% of schools gave no additional training to teachers to help them get to grips with online lessons, according to Ecclesiastical, and 38% of teachers asked said online learning isn’t as effective as face-to-face lessons.

Some schools were already teaching via a blended approach when schools returned after summer holidays in September 2020 – only 35% of teachers asked went back to teaching 100% face-to-face lessons.

Around a third said most learning was in classrooms with some additional virtual lessons, and 15% said it was about half and half – in some cases schools will have had to have sent some students home and delivered online lessons if a student in a year group bubble had tested positive for Covid-19.

Safeguarding has also become a concern for teachers while students are learning from home, with 25% of teachers concerned for things such as security and privacy settings.

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