We have received a number of queries from schools on the Education (Coronavirus, Remote Education Information) (England) (Amendment) Regulations 2021 (‘the 2021 Regulations’), which come into force in England on Friday 12 February 2021.
The 2021 Regulations introduce a legal requirement, formerly an ‘expectation’ in Department for Education (DfE) guidance, for certain schools in England to publish details on remoting learning on their website. If a school does not have their own website, they must instead publish it on an alternative website (the details of which must be made known to parents) or provide it to parents, depending on the type of school. This sits alongside the existing legislative requirement, under the Coronavirus Act 2020 Provision of Remote Education (England) Temporary Continuity Direction, to publish details about in-school curriculum. The legal duty does not require schools to provide any more information than they were previously expected to under DfE guidance. An optional template is available (see link below) to support schools with this requirement. The 2021 Regulations are currently only in force until 31 August 2021.
The scope of the 2021 Regulations is limited and not all schools are required to comply with them. They apply to governing bodies of maintained schools, non-maintained special schools (which include independent special schools) and the proprietors of academy schools and alternative provision academies. They do not apply to independent schools in general although those with registered pupils whose education is “wholly paid for out of public funds”, i.e. state-funded pupils, will be covered. This would include, for instance, independent schools who have joint registration as a children’s home and are effectively funded by local authorities that place the children in those settings. The majority of independent schools do not have state-funded pupils on their roll and would not fall under this category, although they are still expected to meet the Independent School Standards Regulations 2014 (including parts 1 and 6) in full at all times.
Schools that are unsure about whether or not the 2021 Regulations apply to them should seek legal advice. Schools which are not under a legal duty to publish this information are free to publish it voluntarily if they wish to do so; it may be that this information has been provided to parents in any event.
The 2021 Regulations can be accessed here.
The current DfE guidance on the 2021 Regulations can be found under the Remote Education section (pages 52-55) of Restricting attendance during the national lockdown: schools Guidance for all schools in England (February 2021), available here.
Guidance and an optional template provided by the DfE, for those schools covered by the Regulations, are accessible here.