85% of teachers find conducting lessons online challenging

12 January 2021

New research by Ecclesiastical has found that the majority (85%) of teachers who conducted online lessons during lockdown found this challenging.

The survey1 results highlight the challenges ahead as all schools in England close and switch to online learning, except for vulnerable and key worker children, until at least February half-term2.

Challenges of delivering online lessons

The survey discovered that two thirds (66%) of schools in the UK conducted virtual lessons online during the summer lockdown.

Teachers said the biggest challenges of delivering online lessons are pupils not having access to devices (44%) and that it’s more difficult to engage and motivate students (39%). Pupils not having access to reliable Wi-Fi (34%) and teachers experiencing an increased email traffic from pupils (31%) are key challenges. Teachers also found it difficult to supervise pupils while teaching online (31%).

One in five (20%) schools provided no additional training to help teachers conduct lessons online, instead they had to work it out themselves.

Online lessons - the new normal?

When schools reopened their doors to all pupils in September, just a third of teachers (35%) went back to classroom-based lessons only, with many adopting a blended approach. 31% said the majority of learning was classroom-based which they supplemented with virtual online lessons, while 15% said half of lessons were classroom-based and half were conducted online.

More than a third (38%) of the teachers surveyed believe online learning isn’t as effective as in-person classroom learning.

Improving safeguarding practices

The research found that a quarter (28%) of teachers were concerned about an increased safeguarding risk from delivering lessons online.

A third (36%) of schools made changes to safeguarding practices when lessons went online, while half (51%) did not make any changes.

When asked what changes had been made to safeguarding practices, teachers said rules around webcam use and recording online lessons had been introduced. Others introduced guidance on staying safe, including guidance on information security and privacy settings.

Faith Kitchen, education director at Ecclesiastical Insurance, said: “As one of the leading insurers of schools in the UK, Ecclesiastical is passionate about supporting the education sector. Our latest research has found that many teachers find conducting lessons online challenging and a quarter of the teachers we surveyed expressed concerns about an increased safeguarding risk from delivering lessons online. As England enters its third lockdown and schools switch to remote learning, we recognise that it is an incredibly challenging time for the education sector and schools need to carefully manage these risks.”

Last year, Ecclesiastical launched the Education Risk Barometer which looks at the immediate and emerging risks facing schools in the UK.

1 The survey was commissioned by specialist education insurer Ecclesiastical and conducted by OnePoll with 500 teachers between 20/10/2020 - 30/10/2020.

2Schools to close and exams facing axe in England, BBC News