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.
Covid effect drives boost in teacher trainees
For the first time in eight years, the government has met its secondary teacher training target.
While the target fell slightly this year, with 602 fewer secondary trainees required – this recruitment success can partly be put down to a rise in entrants driven by the Covid crisis: the DfE said for most subjects where the goal was exceeded, this was a result of higher numbers of new entrants, with a largely unchanged target.
But the boost in recruitment performance has not solved ongoing problems in key shortage subjects. At secondary level, just 45 per cent of the TSM target was achieved for physics – an increase of only 3 percentage points on last year.
Read the full story here.
PM praises ingenuity of prize winning Covid Hero maths teacher
Prime minister Boris Johnson has congratulated a British maths teacher for winning the Covid Hero award at the Global Teacher Prize today.
Jamie Frost, who runs the website DrFrostMaths and works at Tiffin School in London, was named as a winner for his work supporting learning across the world during the pandemic.
He had been shortlisted as one of 10 finalists for the overall $1 million Global Teacher Prize award, which was won by Ranjitsinh Disale, a primary school teacher from India.
read the full story here
Education secretary gets a grilling on BBC Breakfast over exams decision
Gavin Williamson has defended the decision to run exams next year saying that high-performing education systems such as in Germany and Singapore and Finland were also running them.
Speaking on BBC Breakfast, he said that alternatives such as predicated grades and teacher assessment most disadvantaged children from poorer and black and ethnic minority backgrounds.
Host Naga Munchetty asked him: “So disadvantaged children in Wales and Scotland then are going to be more disadvantaged? Because they’re not having exams?”
He replied: “Every study has shown that predicated grades most disadvantage children from the poorest backgrounds”
Read the full story here
Ofqual: Teacher grades wouldn't make up for learning lost
On the day that it was announced students sitting GCSE and A-level exams next year will be awarded more generous grades to compensate for Covid disruption, Ofqual's chief regulator acknowledged that "some will ask why teacher assessment is not figuring more prominently" in the plans.
But she argued that asking teachers to assign grades that pupils "might have been expected to achieve" in next year's exams would not "make up for that lost learning".
And moderating teacher assessment fairly is "difficult to do in a way that commands the confidence of parents and students", Dame Glenys Stacey said.
Read the full story here.
Gavin Williamson confirms expert group on regional learning loss
An expert group looking into how to solve next year's GCSE and A-level students’ differential learning loss across the country will report in the spring, the education secretary has said today.
“We put all these measures in looking at how pupils can learn and how they can succeed in their exams…but we are going to be asking the expert group to look at some of the additional challenges as a result of differential learning, and how we deal with that and tackle that,” education secretary Gavin Williamson said.
The group will report to the government in the spring.
Read more here
5 changes ruled out for exams in 2021
While the government has introduced a package of measures today aimed at mitigating the impacts of the pandemic on the 2021 cohort, there are some changes that were ruled out.
From further “optionality” in papers to cancelling exams altogether, Ofqual has explained why some choices would have been too crude to soften coronavirus’ effects on education.
In the case of “optionality”, new research from the regulator shows that there is significant variation in difficulty between question papers, which would impact disadvantaged pupils the most.
Read more here
Don’t use ‘implausible’ grade boundaries in 2021, Ofqual says
The exams regulator has said next summer’s grade boundaries should not be “implausible” or too low. Writing to education secretary Gavin Williamson, chief regulator Dame Glenys Stacey said grade boundaries next year must not be so low as to undermine public confidence in standards.
"It will be important that grade boundaries – particularly at the lower grades – are not so low as to be implausible. A qualification must mean something by way of knowledge and understanding of the subject, and indeed we have a statutory objective in that regard,” she said.
Read more here
Lack of regional Covid data has undermined schools
The Department for Education has said that it will publish regional Covid attendance data later this month after repeated requests for these figures to be made public.
The government produced snapshot figures for one day in October and has now announced plans to publish more data on December 15, following requests for this information from Labour's shadow schools minister Wes Streeting.
But Frank Norris, the education adviser for the Northern Powerhouse Partnership said school leaders and trustees have needed this information regularly throughout the term
5 ways exams will change next summer
Following the government’s announcement of plans for next year’s GCSEs and A levels, read our guide for what will happen for exams in 2021.
From study aids students can use in papers to some medically vulnerable students being able to sit papers at home, the government has put in a package of measures designed to help a cohort badly affected by the pandemic.
However, some ideas – such as optionality in question papers, or regional grading – have been firmly ruled out.
Ofsted graded inspections pushed back to the summer
Schools have waited a long time but today they finally have some clarity on the return of Ofsted inspections in 2021.
Routine graded inspections will remain suspended until the summer term but the watchdog will be carrying out monitoring inspections of schools judged as "requires improvement" or "inadequate" from January.
These visits will not result in inspection grades. Ofsted inspections have been suspended since March but the watchdog is carrying out visits this term to check on how pupils are being supported in their return to full-time education following the first national lockdown.
More generous GCSE grades on cards for summer 2021
The government has announced that GCSE and A level exams taken next year will be graded more generously, in line with grading from 2020 when most qualifications were awarded through teacher assessment.
And students will be able to sit contingency papers if they miss exams in the summer because they are ill or self-isolating from coronavirus. They can also receive advance notice of topics covered in their exams from the end of January next year.
Mr Williamson said: “Exams are the best way of giving young people the opportunity to show what they can do, which is why it’s so important they take place next summer.
Read more here.
Calm before the storm of announcements
Yesterday, heads and sector figures were making what turned out to be 11th hour pleas on how exams needed to be adapted to allow for disruption to learning caused by the Pandemic.
Heads including Steve Wilson of Whitley Bay said he had felt reassured by a reply to a letter he sent to Ofqual about how they must deal with the potential impact on exam performance caused by regional variation in learning due to Covid. He said he's glad it's on officials radar - but wants to know what the plan is soon.
Meanwhile we learned that teachers might be one of the occupations next in line for the approved Pfizer vaccine when the second phase of the jab programme is rolled out.
You can catch-up with the rest of yesterday's news here.