Contingency planning for remote education


Contingency planning for staff and students who are self-isolating or for further local or national lockdowns and school closures can be more effective when digital learning and technology is embedded into teaching and learning.

Schools are expected to have a contingency plan in place by the end of September 2020. Whilst that document might be a very good start, it is likely that it is a plan that evolves over time in response to local situations, new technology and access, and teacher experience. Such plans can include a timetable for change and development - remote learning change can be a long process.

General points schools might expect to consider during this time, which can inform their contingency plans could include the following:

  • Is the plan across all subject areas including how to resolve any subject difficulties?

  • Has the school got a blended learning approach ready for any local lockdown/self-isolation?

  • Has the school continued home learning in any aspect, building on what went before?

  • What have been the unintended consequences to recovery? (Unexpected, unforeseen)? And how have you dealt with these?

  • How has the school prepared and coordinated staff to be effective?

  • How is the school emotionally supporting children?

  • How has the school modified/changed the curriculum?

  • How has the school supported parents?

A number of Demonstrator Schools took part in online 'think-tank' events recently. Many of their presentations covered aspects of the contingency plans that are mentioned above. Do take a look below and share these with your colleagues.

Schools have also offered their own plans as examples for you to use and these, together with supporting documentation can be found below.

NOTE: this section and page will be updated very regularly! Please do keep visiting.


Jo Stone from the Discovery Schools Trust and Kibworth School explains how they made their contingency plans for remote learning and the techniques used to face this challenge, building on their experience of the 'Leicester lockdown' in the early summer.. The documents referred to in this video are linked below and you are free to use and amend these - many thanks to the Discovery Trust for this.

'One thing that makes it possible to be an optimist is having a contingency plan for when all hell breaks loose '

Jo Stone - DSAT Lead Professional, Kibworth Cof E Primary School

Mitigating uncertainty in 2020/21

'We need to be doing distance learning activities in some kind of form with pupils now. The danger is we come back and do things in the same way. Think about using all the tools you have been using in lockdown, use them for homework activities so the students are learning the skills and we can help parents with those skills as well.

Don't reinvent the wheel, keep it simple. Less is more'

Louise Astbury - Assistant Principal, Oldham Sixth Form College

How to ensure a continuity of learning while managing local lockdowns

'The teaching and learning aspect really stays the same, the technology just delivers what we can already do... Having the software in place already is key before a lockdown... It's not about having a separate system for remote education, it's about adapting the lessons you have got already... ' Presentation slides also available here.

Andrew Pridmore, Headteacher, Sarah Crowhurst, EdTech Project Co-ordinator - Elizabeth Woodville Primary School

Preparing for lockdown - using systems in your everyday lessons to ensure a seamless transition to the remote learning environment.

'To make the transition as smooth as possible, we looked at what systems we already used in school, is there anything we should be using, could be using in school that can easily be used at home?'

Benjamin Barker - Vice Principal, GST King's Warrington

Leading and keeping your team together whilst delivering an effective curriculum remotely.

'Everybody wants to be a champion! We had different champions for different applications, so that if a teacher had a question about application X, they went to chat with the teacher champion for that application. This helps build relationships across the staff team, and stops me being the only voice at the front.'

Hannah Croskery - Deputy Head, Dalton St Mary's Primary School

Ensuring tech keeps things ticking over: Continuity of learning during covid-19 affected education

'Have clear lines of communication (between staff, parents, pupils). Make it clear. Make it consistent. Make it easy. Using technology means that we are providing more support to our community than ever before'.

'Use technology to support already proven effective pedagogy.'

Lee Small - Asst. Head, Ribblesdale School, Michael Goldie - class teacher and edtech lead Hambleton Primary Academy

Capturing, monitoring and maintaining student engagement when learning remotely.

'Staff have benefitted in terms of a closer working community, accelerating the development of a shared curriculum.

One of the key aspects of ensuring work-life balance and workload is to get the systems in place quickly. The students don't always have the best skills and so we spend time looking at metacognition and learning to enable them to become better learners and so better remote learners.'

Kath Kelly - CEO, Jennifer Piper-Gale - Deputy CEO Lionheart Trust

Improving parental engagement during Covid-19 education by using social media.

'Empowering families to understand the issues and get over them themselves was important. As an example, in one school, Monday mornings were parent and pupil get togethers, live sessions where they talked together - setting expectations with parents. It was the idea that pupils were not on their own. Parents were involved in their learning, wherever they could be.'

John Sibbald - Quality Manager, The Manchester College

Don't just view your contingency plan as a one off event that you want to put in place in September. Keep teaching at the heart of what you're doing. Ensure that purposeful practice includes the power of feedback to your learners, making sure that the teaching and how you're supporting the students learning is at the heart of the use of technology. In September, effective communication with your learners and their families is key.

You might be in an environment where some of your students are testing positive to the coronavirus. It’s about making sure that you can quickly move to home learning support which will be possible if you have done the communication in advance. So communicate ahead of time and try to view this is an ongoing change.'

Chris Ryall - Deputy Headteacher, Thomas Gainsborough School

These are examples and so are not expected to be just 'cut and paste'. Some are complete contingency plans, some are aspects of plans.

Many thanks to those schools who have shared their work for you to use and amend as required.