Welcome to the Tes coronavirus liveblog. The ongoing Covid-19 pandemic is causing uncertainties for everyone.
Schools are facing unprecedented disruption, with classrooms currently closed to all but the children of key workers and vulnerable pupils.
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: email@example.com; firstname.lastname@example.org and Mary-Louise.Clews@tes.com.
Teachers should make online lessons live, says education secretary
Despite no stipulation about live teaching in the DfE guidance on online learning issued last week, Education secretary Gavin Williamson told MPs on the Commons’ Education Committee today that live lessons could be “an important part of the whole package of what teachers and schools offer".
He said: “It’s certainly something that we would encourage them to see as part of that whole package of what they can deliver for children.”
Read the story here.
Schools could mark each other’s external GCSE ‘tests’
Following DfE proposals to introduce external tests this summer to assist teachers in submitting GCSE and A level grades – it has emerged that the papers could be marked by teachers in other schools.
Speaking on BBC Radio Four’s World at One programme today, Dr Tina Isaacs, who is also a member of Ofqual’s Standards Advisory Group, said: “If they would need to be externally marked either the exam boards could do the marking or you could set up arrangements where some schools will mark other schools papers.”
However London headteacher Serge Cefai, also appearing on the programme, said the papers should not be marked by teachers. He said “These are exams in all but name so why cancel them in the first place?”
Read the story here.
What else did we learn from Williamson at the select committee?
After a tumultuous start to the new term which has seen schools sent into a national lockdown and a series of U-turns the education secretary Gavin Williamson faced MPs today to discuss the impact of Covid-19 on schools.
He faced questions on major issues including Covid testing, vaccines, remote learning, closing schools and free school meals controversy.
Here is a full round up from Tes about what Mr Williamson had to say.
Williamson fighting ‘tooth and nail’ to ensure teachers get a vaccine
Gavin Williamson has told MPs on the Commons Education Committee today that he was fighting “tooth and nail” to ensure school staff get a vaccine.
He said it was “understandably right” the Government had chosen to first prioritise people most at risk of going into hospital with the virus.
But Mr Williamson said that teachers and school staff should be the top priority in the next wave of people getting vaccinated for Covid-19.
One in five primary pupils at school this week
The latest attendance data drop from the DfE has revealed that one in five primary pupils were in school on Monday.
Around one in seven state school pupils (14 per cent) were in attendance on 11 January, including 20 per cent of primary pupils, and 4 per cent of secondary pupils, according to the new statistics.
The figures also show that 11 per cent of open primary schools reported less than 10 per cent attendance, 47 per cent reported less than 20 per cent attendance, and 98 per cent reported less than 50 per cent attendance.
Primary school teachers or staff will not have to test pupils for Covid
Gavin Williamson and the Department for Education’s top official have set out how the government plans to test primary school pupils for Covid.
The Department for Education’s permanent secretary Susan Acland-Hood told MPs it is working with Public Health England on plans to ensure primary school pupils can be tested at home for Covid-19.
Mr Williamson told MPs that although school staff will be supervising secondary schools students who test themselves it would not be "right or appropriate" for staff to be expected to do the same for primary schools.
Williamson fails to apologise for 'undue stress' on heads
It is well known that the government has made a series of late U-turns on crucial decisions concerning schools during the pandemic.
But when asked today if he would apologise to school leaders for repeated last minute communications "causing undue stress and pressure", the education secretary did not give a direct answer.
He said: "Being passionate about having children in schools, I think, is absolutely a vital part of being education secretary and I will continue to work with headteachers, teachers, all those who work in the education sectors, and unions to ensure that all children are welcomed back into schools at the earliest possible moment."
Read the full story here.
School inspectors to assess remote learning 'immediately'
School inspectors in Scotland are to start to assessing the quality of remote learning during the coronavirus lockdown, education secretary John Swinney has announced.
He told the Scottish Parliament that "a programme of national overviews will commence immediately and last for the duration of remote learning". Inspectors will "evaluate what is working well and where further improvement is required".
Read more here.
Tests too inaccurate for school use
The programme of mass coronavirus testing in schools has been called into question by experts.
Writing in the BMJ, Academics have warned that the testing strategy proposed by government could actually increase cases of Covid-19 in schools.
Read more here.
Covid is an 'occupational risk' for teachers
Teachers are "naturally" at occupational risk of coming into contact with Covid-19, a government minister said today.
Home secretary Priti Patel listed teachers among frontline workers who can come into contact with the coronavirus through their job and who the government wants to ensure can get vaccinated.
Read more here.
Monitoring inspections of schools will now be carried out remotely until after the February half-term in response to the Covid-19 crisis after Ofsted was forced into a u-turn.
The watchdog was due to start going back into schools to inspect from next week but has changed its plans after the government issued advice to the public tonight to “act as if you have the virus”.
Read more here.
Exams ins and outs
Ofqual's chief regulator has warned education secretary Gavin Williamson that GCSEs and A levels will be less reliable and valid as a result of exams not going ahead.
Simon Lebus' warning comes in an exchange of letters between him and the education secretary published this morning discussing how exams will be run this year following the government's major announcement last week that they would not be happening as normal amid the escalating Covid crisis.
Mr Williamson’s letter can be read in full here.
Education secretary faces grilling by MPs
This morning the education secretary Gavin Williamson will be appearing at the Commons Education Select Committee as part of its inquiry into the impact of COVID-19 on education and children’s services.
He's likely to face a tough grilling on areas including free school meals, exams, school openings and vaccines for teachers.
We'll bring you the stories as they come, and you can catch up on yesterday's coronavirus and schools news here.