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Last reviewed on 8 January 2021
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Here's how you can work out whether remote pupils are engaging with the work you're setting so that you can provide additional support if necessary.

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 also expects you to have systems to check daily whether pupils are engaging with their work.

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

Decide what engagement rate you're aiming for

Work out the ideal rate for your whole school

It's up to you to decide what's a 'good' engagement rate for your school - the Department for Education hasn't set any required level of engagement you should reach.


  • How much work you're setting and how much of it you expect pupils to complete (see this article for advice on how to choose your approach to remote learning)
  • How experienced pupils and parents are at accessing and submitting work 
  • How many of your pupils will have access to the internet, and how much time they'll have to access it if they share devices with others in their household
  • Whether you expect this rate to vary by subject or year group, and for pupils with special educational needs and/or disabilities, or other additional learning needs

 According to a report from the Sutton Trust, the national picture is that:

  • 23% of pupils aged 18 and under are reported to be taking part in live and recorded lessons online every day
  • However, this number varies by socioeconomic background - it goes up to 30% for pupils from middle-class homes and down to 16% for pupils from working-class homes
  • 44% of pupils in middle-class families are reported to be spending more than 4 hours a day learning, while 33% of pupils in working-class families are reported to do the same

These figures are based on a survey of 1,508 UK parents.

Let teachers determine what's reasonable for individual pupils

Teachers will know their pupils best and will be able to determine whether a child is engaging sufficiently.

Ask them to judge:

  • How much pupils are engaging (e.g. are they logging on every day? Are they viewing the files you upload?)
  • The quality of engagement (e.g. is the work submitted to the expected standard?)

See the section below for advice on how to get evidence for these 2 points.

Gather evidence of engagement

Track who has submitted work

When you set activities where pupils are expected to hand in work, make sure teachers keep records of who submitted work to the expected standard on time.

Use the features of your digital learning platforms

If you're using one, see what options you have available. For example:

This monitoring does have its limits though, particularly if you're linking off to resources on another website. For example, you can't monitor who's viewed a YouTube video.

Talk to your school community

Survey parents and pupils about how much work pupils are doing, how challenging they've found it and what else could be limiting their engagement with work.

This should give you an idea of who's struggling and what the common issues are.

Set up a monitoring system

Here are 2 approaches set up by school leaders we've talked to.

Ask teachers to flag pupils they're concerned about

At Ribblesdale High School:

  • Every 2 to 3 weeks, teachers identify pupils in each of their classes who are causing the most concern
  • This information is added to their existing behaviour management system
  • The data is then managed centrally by their pastoral support team, and:
    • If a pupil is failing to engage in 1 to 2 subjects, the head of department gets in touch with the parents via email or phone
    • If a pupil is having issues in more subjects, the pastoral team makes a phone call home

Create a spreadsheet of all pupils

At Windsor Academy Trust, which includes 5 primary and 4 secondary schools, they:

  • Have a spreadsheet covering all pupils and all the subjects they take
  • Ask teachers to fill this spreadsheet in weekly, flagging where they feel pupils aren't sufficiently engaging
  • Have the headteacher review the completed spreadsheet and work with the pastoral team to decide who needs a call


Many thanks to the following for sharing their approaches with us so we could share them with you:

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