Don’t video call or livestream lessons during shutdown, NEU urges teachers

Teachers should be aware that some students might not have access to good technology at home, says the union

Teachers must not video call students or livestream lessons while secondary schools are shutdown, the National Education Union (NEU) has urged.

In guidance sent to members, the country’s largest education union warned: “Teachers should not livestream lessons from their homes, nor engage in any video-calling, unless in exceptional circumstances with the parent.”

Schools have been closed to nearly all students, except those that are the children of key workers, because of the coronavirus outbreak.

The union reminded teachers that they should not be expected to contact students daily, except in special circumstances. It also reminded them to not use personal phones, emails or social media when contacting students or their parents.

We cannot expect pupils or parents to replicate the classroom at home
– National Education Union

The union advises teachers that many students might lack good computers and WiFi to do online work.

“Tasks that require little or no access to technology are preferable in order to cater for everyone. Where schools do use technology, they should use the technology that pupils and teachers are familiar with,” the union said, adding: “Variety is key and bite-sized chunks of work are more likely to be completed and could be part of a bigger project. We cannot expect pupils or parents to replicate the classroom at home.”

The union also suggested teachers set flexible tasks that cater for students’ interests and abilities – online learning cannot totally replicate the sort of classroom learning to which students and teachers are accustomed, the advisory note adds.

The guidance states: “If schools have systems set up for online lessons, these should be kept to a minimum as the interaction needed between teacher and pupils in school is high and cannot be easily replicated for a young audience, even at KS4 level.

“Any school which carries out online lessons must have protocols in place to protect staff and safeguard pupils, and no teacher should be expected to carry out any online teaching with which they feel uncomfortable or in the absence of agreed protocols.”

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