Remote learning: How to handle objections from parents

Written by: Ciara Lamb | Published:
Image: Adobe Stock

Whether you have individual pupils self-isolating, or groups of pupils learning from home, you may come across objections from parents about the remote learning you are providing. Ciara Lamb looks at some potential concerns and how we might respond


The first thing to say when planning remote learning is that you must be clear on your approach and expectations. Doing this will help you to head off any objections early on, get parents on board with your approach and leave less room for confusion.

Avoid over-promising here – set out the minimum you will provide so that anything extra is a plus and you are not at risk of overloading your teaching staff.

Send a letter to parents explaining how your school will provide remote learning to pupils if required, so that parents feel better informed. Make sure you include a summary of your remote learning plans, what pupils will need to have at home, what is expected of pupils and how parents can help. Or, if you want to deliver the message more personally, you could record an FAQ-style video and upload it to YouTube.

Even if you are clear on your approach, some parents will still need more reassurance than usual. The period away from learning, concerns about future lockdowns and any additional pressures that families may be facing will likely lead to increased uncertainty about their child's education. These concerns will mostly come through informally and you will be able to handle them informally too.

Below are some tips on how you can respond, whether that is over the phone, via video-conferencing or email.


“Why aren’t you delivering live lessons?”

There may be other schools in your area that are delivering live lessons. For parents, this might make sense – from the outside, it is teaching but in a virtual classroom. However, if you have chosen not to do live lessons, you will have your reasons – so make sure you communicate these to parents. For example, it may be because of:


“You’re sending home too much work”

Explain to parents the difference between remote learning this time round compared to previously. Now, the government regulations (DfE, 2020) expect you to provide remote learning that is as close to in-school provision as possible so that coronavirus does not have a lasting impact on children's education. This is why pupils are getting a similar amount of work to what they would expect to have in school.

Provide reassurance by outlining what support is available to pupils if they need it, for example a phone call with the class teacher, via tutorial sessions, or other systems you have put in place. If you did not have support in place previously, communicate how it will be different this time round.


“My child is having too much screen time”

The Department for Education expects you to provide a mix of online and offline learning (DfE, 2020) – explain this expectation to parents and communicate any additional reasons you have for providing online learning.

Acknowledge that pupils will be spending more time on screens while we are living in a more virtual world, but offer guidance to parents on how they can protect their child while online.


“The teacher's lessons are....”

If your teachers are delivering or recording online lessons, they will be under greater scrutiny from parents. They may offer their opinion on the style of teaching or behaviour management (e.g. it is not engaging, professional, etc).

Remind parents that teachers are professionals – they are trained to deliver the curriculum and support the learning of their pupils. They have had to adapt to a new way of working but the school is supporting teachers to learn from best practice and develop their skills. Refer again to the research on remote learning from the EEF (2020).


"I sent my child's teacher a query and I haven't received a response"

This objection is not specific to remote learning. Make sure you have a strict policy in place to protect teachers' workload if you get an increase in parent concerns. Developing an email “code of conduct” between parents and teachers can help to manage parents’ expectations. Make sure you include details of any email curfews or other policies you have in place.


“I want to file a complaint”

Despite your best efforts, some parents might still not be reassured. If this is the case, it is best to point them toward your school's complaints procedures and get support from your governing board.


  • Ciara Lamb is a content editor at The Key, a provider of intelligence and resources for school leaders. The advice in this article is taken from The Key’s resource Remote learning: handling objections from parents. Visit https://thekeysupport.com/


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