The Rt. Hon. Gavin Williamson MP

Secretary of State for Education

Department of Education

20 Great Smith Street

Westminster

London

SW1P 3BT

Sent via email

Friday, 08 January 2021

Our ref: 20210108JC

Dear Gavin,

Re. Provision of remote learning

 I want to raise my concern at parts of the Statement you commended to the House on Wednesday 6th January 2021 which seemed to encourage parents to complain directly to Ofsted if they are not satisfied with their child’s school’s provision of remote learning. Here is your quote in full:

“If parents feel their child’s school is not providing suitable remote education, they should first raise their concerns with the teacher or headteacher, and, failing that, report the matter to Ofsted.”

Schools across the country including in my constituency are currently working flat-out to ensure their pupils do not miss out on their education during lockdown. It is therefore deeply unhelpful to be suggesting to parents that their concerns may not be taken into account by their school and that they should raise matters directly with Ofsted.

While teachers, pupils and parents are still adjusting to this new way of working, it is inevitable that there will be challenges over the next few weeks. I do not believe these challenges will be aided by the worry that Ofsted will be investigating their lessons and conducting a tick-box exercise to ensure compliance with rigid centrally-set standards.

I also note reports in the Daily Telegraph that Ofsted themselves feel they have been “blindsided” by your request for parents to report schools to them if they are dissatisfied with the quality of online teaching. It is highly concerning that Ofsted, as well as the teaching unions, were not properly consulted with before you made your Statement to the House on Wednesday afternoon.

Teachers, pupils and parents need the Government to provide leadership and certainty during these immensely difficult times. Rather than adding yet more pressure onto our hard-working teachers, it is imperative that they feel supported in this transition to remote learning. I therefore urge you to clarify your remarks to the House to address these concerns.

Yours sincerely,

Gill Furniss MP

Member of Parliament for Sheffield Brightside and Hillsborough

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