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Last reviewed on 8 January 2021
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School types: All · School phases: All

Stay connected, re-create the vibrancy of your classrooms and give children a sense of normality again by moving to a digital education platform. They're simple to set up and use, and you can uphold your school's quality of education – whatever your learning ambitions.

As of 4 January 2021, all schools have closed to all pupils except children of critical workers and vulnerable children. You must provide remote education to all pupils learning at home.

The DfE now expects schools to use a digital education platform, like G Suite for Education or Office 365 Education, to deliver remote learning.

Stay up to date on the full list of expectations (pages 46 to 50 of Restricting attendance during the national lockdown: schools).

What's a digital education platform?

Given the circumstances, it's as close to a real classroom as you can get

A digital education platform is a place where your pupils' learning experience at home can continue as close to normal as possible. The platforms are purpose-built for remote learning in a way that a school website isn't. For instance, teachers can communicate directly with pupils, set individualised tasks, let pupils work together, and easily give personalised feedback.

The 2 most-used platforms are G Suite for Education (which includes Google Classroom), and Office 365 Education (which includes Microsoft Teams).

Hear below from 4 schools and trusts why you should be confident using a digital education platform to continue education while your school is closed.

You can keep the special connection between your teachers and pupils

Graham Macaulay from LEO Academy Trust told us "pupils want to see their teachers and have that sense of normality."

Using their platform, self-isolating pupils in the trust video-call their teachers for remote lessons, and have supervised group calls to catch up and check in with each other socially.

With a digital education platform, it's easier for teachers to keep that personal touch when they give pupils feedback, too.

You don't need to compromise on pupils' learning

Whether you want to drip-feed tasks to pupils, or get pupils logging in to online lessons, a digital education platform has you covered

For pupils in Windsor Academy Trust, remote learning via their platform is sophisticated. They have full timetables of lessons, and pupils submit work.

Most importantly, teachers give pupils personalised feedback and can do easily. This means that pupils can keep learning new skills and concepts throughout closure, rather than focus only on consolidating knowledge.

Whether you want to drip-feed tasks to pupils over the coming weeks, or are keen for pupils to log in for a full day of lessons, like Windsor Academy Trust, a digital education platform has you covered.

You can stimulate pupils with a wide range of activities

At Cornerstone Academy Trust, self-isolating pupils get a package of resources from their teacher, ranging from videos to interactive whiteboard drawings, all in one place.

Digital education platforms give pupils a place to submit creative tasks of all levels of complexity, too. This might be a photo of their latest artwork, or a video of a Tudor house they've built in Minecraft.

When it comes to classwork, the only limits are your teachers' and pupils' imaginations.

Pupils can also use shared documents and interactive whiteboards to work together on group projects.

They're safe and secure

You have full control over the features pupils can access.

Don't want pupils video-calling each other unsupervised? Not a problem – you can customise these tools to keep your pupils safe.

Worried about family members going rogue in the background on a call? Set house rules, just as you have in place in school anyway, to set expectations about behaviour, dress and so on.

You'll also have an audit trail of chat logs and recordings too, just in case there's ever a problem.

They're easy to set up and use

With someone with a bit of tech know-how on hand, you can set up either of these platforms to meet your needs in a matter of hours and get staff and families using them effectively within days – just as Hanover Primary School (below) did.

Video: a view from Hanover Primary School

Hanover Primary School set up its platform within a few days, and has been using it for about a month now. Here's why assistant headteacher and Key Stage 2 leader Paul Beeton thinks all schools should use a digital education platform during closure:

Source: Paul Beeton, Hanover Primary School

What to read next

Take a look at our mythbuster on the common concerns we hear about moving to a digital education platform.

Or review this feature comparison to see what G Suite for Education and Office 365 Education could do for you.

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