Remote Learning – A beginners guide

Remote Learning – what are the options?


This advice is for those schools that have no experience of remote learning tools, cloud-based platforms or access to a virtual learning platform.


Firstly, check that your LA or regional broadband consortia is not already providing advice or services to help you. Many have been preparing for this situation and can provide their schools with assistance.


Nearly all schools will be using either Microsoft Office 365 or G Suite/ Google for Education for their basic business tasks like email and file storage. Both are free to schools and since the out break of Covid-19, there are some additional features that have been added to support schools. But they provide a lot more than just email.


This document will focus on the features that might be useful to schools and support links where you can find out more.


G-Suite for Education (Google)


G Suite for Education is free for Schools and Google have committed that it always will be. G Suite is incredibly user friendly and intuitive. Google has a dedicated team “Google for Education” who are working to develop G-suite for Education to meet the needs of UK schools. Classroom is your main tool for distance learning.


G Suite for Education includes:

  • Gmail – Exchange secure emails with your classes. Can be locked down to internal recipients so pupils are unable to contact or be contacted by external senders.
  • Drive – Store and organize assignments, documents, or class curriculum securely.
  • Calendar – Share calendars or create a joint calendar with members of your class or institution to easily keep track of schedules.
  • Docs, Sheets, Slides – Collaborate, share feedback, and work together with your students in real time on documents, spreadsheets, and presentations.
  • Forms – Create Forms, Quizzes, and surveys to collect and analyse responses with the help of machine learning.
  • Jamboard – Sketch and collaborate on an interactive canvas with Jamboard- Google’s cloud based smartboard, on your computer, phone, or tablet.
  • Sites – An easy-to-use web builder to create sites, host course curriculum, build development skills, and unleash students’ creativity.
  • Hangout Meet – Connect with students virtually through secure video calls and messaging to keep learning going outside of school. You can also use this tool for live steaming.
  • Groups – Create and participate in class forums to foster communication and conversation.
  • Vault – Add students, manage devices, and configure security and settings so your data stays safe.
  • Classroom – Acts as an aggregation point for teachers to teach from. Create assignments, communicate with students, and send feedback all from one place. This is where you would direct pupils to start learning.


You can find more information about G Suite Here –

Google have published a significant amount of resources, guidance and training on how G Suite can be used –

There are a number of training courses available with the “training centre”. If your staff have little or no experience with G-suite, the “first day of using” service will be of value.


To support Schools with distance learning, Google have made some enterprise hangouts features free to education –


Recently Google hosted a webinar with a specific focus on “enabling distance learning with G-suite chrome which is fantastic, you can view a recording of the webinar here –


Google For Education run a very active YouTube Channel, which is full of great videos including 90 second short clips on how to complete tasks. This is worth sharing with staff –


Using Office 365 (Microsoft Teams)


Microsoft Office 365 A1 Package is a completely free online version of Office with email, video conferencing, customized hub for class teamwork with Microsoft Teams, compliance tools, and information protection.

Within Office 365 A1 you will find:

  • Word, Excel and PowerPoint – Online versions only.
  • OneNote – Class and Staff notebooks, Online and Desktop.
  • Outlook/Exchange – Email with 50 GB mailbox
  • OneDrive – _Online Storage
  • SharePoint – Inform and engage with communication sites and team sites.
  • Forms – Self-grading quizzes with Forms
  • Sway – Digital storytelling with Sway
  • Teams – Microsoft Teams, a digital hub that integrates the conversations, content, and apps your school needs to be more collaborative and engaged. Enterprise video service for creating, managing, and sharing videos securely across an organization. Plan schedules and tasks with Teams. This is where you would direct pupils to start learning.


More information about what is included can be found here –


Microsoft have created a webpage detailing their commitment to customers during the COVID-19 outbreak –


You can find Microsoft’s “Covid-19 response” here:


The majority of your distance learning strategy within Office 365 will focus on Teams, you can find a great quick start guide here –

You can undertake online O365 training here –


Microsoft run a YouTube channel dedicated to O365 guidance –


There is a wide collection of video tutorials on YouTube that can guide you through all the features.


Once you have decided which platform you will be using, you need to set up accounts for everyone who needs them, staff and pupils.


We would recommend this process:


  1. Identify which platform you wish to use for staff comms and teaching (0365 or G Suite). It will be the one you are most likely using already.
  2. Check staff are able to log into O365/G Suite.
  3. If you require any new O365/G Suite logins, contact your IT support team.
  4. Distribute the accounts and ensure staff and pupils know how to log in from home (ensure personal data gathered for account creation is kept securely)
  5. Ensure that appropriate Google Classroom/s and Microsoft Team/s areas have been created with a holding message to show people are in the right place.
  6. Ensure they can access the appropriate Microsoft Team/s or Google Classroom/s and that further instruction will be given from that area.
  7. Check that Staff and Pupils have an appropriate device to work from. Whilst other web browsers will work, as a general rule of thumb, any device that will run Google Chrome will be able to access Teams and Google Classroom.
  8. Staff should have a play with saving files, setting assignments and quizzes etc
  9. Load some work in your designated ‘classroom’ or subject area that you will have created and they open/ invite pupils to start accessing.


However, if you are a small primary or infant school that haven’t or are unable to set up pupil accounts, you can still use both platforms to set work. Both O365 and G Suite allow you to have file storage areas that you can open to invited members who are not part of your organisation. You will need to have the email address of parents and then invite them to see the virtual ‘classroom’ via web link.


Cyber security and online safety

As we all try and adjust to different ways of working and interacting, its important to be aware that we are more likely to be targeted by cyber criminals.

We, NEN- the education network and NCSC have produced a simple guide aimed at schools (but applicable to anyone) that sets out some of the risks and how to protect against them.

One of our members, SWGfL has produced an excellent article highlighting some of the scams we are seeing that you need to be aware of. You can find it here

Another member, LGfL has also developed a portal dedicated to supporting schools through the COVID-19 crisis. It can be accessed by anyone, not just LGfL schools.

Some twitter feeds to follow if you want more information:



Finally, don’t forget your safeguarding obligations. SWGfL have produced an excellent guide and resource for schools on remote learning and it can be found here.