Welcome to the Tes coronavirus liveblog. The ongoing Covid-19 pandemic is causing uncertainties for everyone.
Schools are facing unprecedented disruption with efforts to keep open and 'Covid-secure' and many teachers facing working with "bubbles" of pupils or delivering remote lessons.
Here, we aim to help teachers in the UK and in international schools by gathering together all the relevant stories in one place and keeping you updated with the latest news and announcements as and when they happen.
And, as ever, we also want to hear from you. What is different in your school, in your working life, because of the virus? If you have stories you want to share or information you think should be circulated, then contact us at: firstname.lastname@example.org; email@example.com and Mary-Louise.Clews@tes.com.
Remote learning: does the platform matter?
Do you work in a Zoom school? Or are you firmly on team Teams?
The education community might be split over which remote learning platform works best, but the choice is largely incidental, argues John Jones, director of innovation at RGS Worcester, because what really makes the difference is what the teacher does within the platform they are using.
“Rather than fuelling the ‘which-tech’ debate, we should all be focusing on the pedagogy and design of online lessons, not the method of delivery,” Jones writes, in an article for Tes.
4 Covid challenges your pastoral team are facing
The work that a school’s pastoral team does is often underestimated. That’s according to Amy Forrester, an English teacher and director of pastoral care (key stage 4) at Cockermouth School in Cumbria.
“It's not uncommon for staff to ask: ‘What do heads of year do all day?’”, she writes, in a recent article for Tes.
However, while this is true at the best of times, the work of pastoral teams across the country has become a whole lot harder since the start of the Covid-19 pandemic, she adds.
You can read about four of those challenges in Forrester’s article here.
Schools in tier 3 can defer visits from Ofsted, says Spielman
Ofsted’s chief inspector said schools in the highest Covid risk "tier 3" areas can ask to defer visits from the inspectorate.
The decision comes as chief inspector Amanda Spielman has defended the decision to resume in-person visits to schools after the national lockdown finishes tomorrow.
Speaking at the launch of Ofsted's annual report today, Ms Spielman said that schools in tier 3 have the flexibility to ask to defer these visits, which are being carried out to check how pupils are being supported in their return to full time education.
What teachers really want to find in their Advent calendar this year
Deputy headteacher Sarah Mullin was shopping for Advent calendars for her children when, midway along the supermarket aisle, she stopped to think: wouldn’t it be great if there was an advent calendar for teachers?
Teachers everywhere are tired and stressed, and she just didn’t think that opening the calendar door to a Cadbury's Hero would cut it this year.
In a month in which teachers have seen the provisional Covid vaccination priority list exclude teachers, and the government decided that teachers don’t deserve a pay rise, Ms Mullin thought she would compile a list of festive treats that teachers might like to be given this December…
Data shows drop in schools with self-isolating pupils
For the first time since the start of November, the number of schools reporting one or more pupils self-isolating has fallen.
The news might serve as an indication to some that the second national lockdown has succeeded in easing the spread of the disease.
Today's data from the DfE shows that the number of schools reporting that they had one or more pupils self-isolating, who had been asked to do so due to potential contact with a case of coronavirus inside the school, fell to 33 per cent on 26 November, down from 36 per cent the previous week.
Read the full story here.
'Why I wrote my own panto to bring some festive cheer this year'
Coronavirus meant that this school could not host its usual festive fundraising activity.
But rather than miss out on its charitable giving, English teacher and community service coordinator Anne Looker, who works at St Christoper’s School, Bahrain, set about writing her own panto to help bring some festive cheer to staff and find a way to fundraise at the same time.
Here, she explains how she put the play together, how it will all work to adhere to Covid-19 rules, and shares a few lines from her rhyming opus - and her magic plot device.
No plans for graded inspections next month
Up until now, Ofsted has stuck to the line that its plan to resume routine school inspections in January is under review.
But today, chief inspector Amanda Spielman finally shed further light on the watchdog's plans, saying she is "not expecting" to carry out graded inspections next month.
Ms Spielman said she hopeseducation secretary Gavin Williamson will make an announcement on the return of Ofsted inspections soon. Read the full story here.
First lockdown left a “legacy of abuse and neglect”
The first lockdown didn’t just have an impact on the attainment gap; according to Ofsted, vulnerable children suffered in other ways while out of teachers’ sight.
School closures, according to the watchdog, had a dramatic impact on the number of child protection referrals, 20 per cent of which come from schools in normal times.
This will likely leave councils responding to a legacy of abuse and neglect as children and families in need fell off the radar, the inspectorate has warned.
Read more here.
When will Ofsted resume full inspections?
Today Ofsted launches its annual report, pulling together its findings from before and during the pandemic.
But when will the inspectorate return to its full inspections schedule? Yesterday, it confirmed that it is sending inspectors back into schools from this week for its autumn "visits" after the end of the national lockdown.
We may well hear more today: watch this space.
You can catch up on the rest of yesterday's developments here.