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.
Is exams hope on the horizon?
A headteacher says he feels “relieved” after he receiving a personal response from Ofqual chief Dame Glenys Stacey to his letter highlighting concerns about next year’s exams.
Steve Wilson, headteacher of Whitley Bay High School, where most of the Year 11 pupils and many Year 13 pupils have already had to self-isolate at least once this term, wrote to the exam regulator stating that his pupils would be “at a distinct disadvantage” when it comes to next year’s exams compared to pupils who hadn’t been disrupted.
However he told Tes: “Dame Glenys herself has written back to me in quite a lot of detail acknowledging all the points I make.
"She and Ofqual are saying ‘We are aware of the issues you are raising and we are looking at very creative solutions to try and remedy those problems’”
Read the story and Watch Mr Wilson’s interview here
How is coronavirus stress affecting school leaders?
The impact of the coronavirus is currently being felt by everyone in schools – and that includes headteachers and senior leaders.
But how worried should we be about the effects of the pandemic on leaders’ wellbeing? Retired principal Dr Helen Kelly wanted to find out the true scale of the problem, so conducted her own survey of school leaders through social media groups.
The results were more worrying than she expected.
In her article, Dr Kelly also sets out what needs to happen to better support leaders at this time. You can read her suggestions here.
Why gradeless Ofsted inspections strangle our future
Atlantic Academy, in Portland, has been due an Ofsted inspection since September 2019, its headteachers write. The school is ready for it. Its leaders want it. They want inspectors to come and see what they’ve done and what they’ve achieved.
Now, with the announcement that Ofsted is unlikely to return to graded inspections in January due to the coronavirus, they feel cheated. Ultimately, Ofsted has a stranglehold over the future of their students.
An Ofsted inspection with no grade may be more detrimental than one with a grade because, any time you change a system, there are casualties. Atlantic Academy may well end up a casualty of this new change.
Teachers could be bumped up the vaccine queue
Teachers could be on the priority list for the second phase of the new Covid-19 vaccine, government advisers have said.
It was announced this morning that the UK had become the first country in the world to approve a jab to fight the disease from Pfizer and BioNTech.
Read the full story here.
DfE knew of ‘risks’ with free-school-meal voucher supplier
The rollout of the voucher scheme after schools closed in March was fraught with delays. Now, an investigation run by the National Audit Office revealed the government knew of ‘risks’ associated with its chosen supplier of the scheme, Edenred.
The report points out that while the government still awarded Edenred the contract, it had ‘limited evidence’ of its ability to carry out the task at the scale and pace required.
Read more here.
Cases in schools down as lockdown lifts
The case for holding the line and keeping schools open was given a boost yesterday after data published by the DfE showed the number of schools reporting one or more pupils self-isolating has fallen for the first time since the start of November.
Meanwhile Ofsted's annual report highlighted how the first lockdown, when schools were closed, had a big impact on vulnerable pupils safety as well as the attainment gap - child protection referrals were dramatically down during the period, 20 per cent of which come from schools in normal times.
You can catch-up with all of yesterday's developments here.