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.
GCSEs 2021: We can’t just pretend it’s all OK
This week, Tes’ interview with Colin Hughes, chief executive of AQA, was a much-needed injection of honesty into the debate on next year’s exams, writes Tes news editor Will Stewart.
Mr Hughes pointed out that while there are measures that can be taken to mitigate the uneven level of schooling pupils have had across the country, the problem is “not completely solvable”.
Mr Stewart argues that this is “hugely refreshing”, and a marked change from “anonymous briefings, near silence from the Department for Education, and unconvincing optimism from Ofqual, that have otherwise filled the void while we wait for more details about next summer’s exams”.
The three-week delay to exams will not be enough, begging the question of whether we are hurtling towards another exams disaster next year. The stakes are even higher this year than they were in 2020, and Ofqual and the government need to give schools more certainty – and honesty – now.
Read more here.
Schools expected to host catch-up tutoring on site
Yesterday a multi-academy trust leader warned that subsidised Covid catch-up sessions are proving "too little, too late" for schools.
Now the government's National Tutoring Programme has come under fire again – this time for insisting schools hold catch-up sessions on site.
Deputy head Jonathan Mountstevens said he was "utterly gobsmacked" to learn the sessions would need to take place in school, arguing that this would create a "massive logistical challenge".
A spokesperson for the NTP told Tes that sessions should take place in school by "default", but organisers were working with tutors to make exceptions for pupils unable to attend.Read the full story here.
2021 GCSE students could see topics in advance
Heads close to discussions about the final plans for GCSEs and A levels in 2021 say students could see material in their exam papers in advance.
Geoff Barton, general secretary of the Association of School and College Leaders, said “pre-release material” could be used to help students next year, such as studying a source in history or case study in geography that will then appear in their exams.
However, he said that the idea of “optionality” in exams – where students could choose to answer questions on certain topics depending on what they had studied – was now seen as “problematic”.
In-house CPD is making a comeback during the pandemic
Schools around the world have had to adapt their CPD provision over 2020 as coronavirus made travel impossible.
However, Chris Seal, principal of Shrewsbury International School Bangkok, Riverside Campus and a Tes Global Advisory Board Member says the silver lining is that it has allowed a return of in-house CPD mixing the benefits of face-to-face events (while socially distanced of course) with knowledge sharing and skills development.
He outlines why he things the benefits this brings should be here to stay, whatever the future holds.
Dr Pauline Stephen named teaching watchdog first female CEO
Scotland’s regulatory body has appointed the first female chief executive in its history.
Dr Pauline Stephen will take up the role at the General Teaching Council for Scotland before March 2021.
The GTCS, which has had to make some big calls during the Covid-19 pandemic, was formed in 1965 to register and regulate teachers in Scotland, and now also has a professional learning remit.
‘Tell us how many of us have covid’, say teachers
The NASUWT teaching union is calling on the DfE to publish weekly data on the number of confirmed covid cases among staff in schools.
The union says it is becoming “increasingly concerned” at the lack of transparency around Covid data for schools.
While the DfE already publishes weekly attendance figures for pupils, including data on the proportion of pupils with suspected and confirmed cases of coronavirus, the NASUWT now wants the rate of infection of teachers, and the prevalence rate in teachers and pupils compared to the wider population.
Read the full story here:
‘Nobody in their right mind’ wants Ofsted inspections back in January, Labour says
Labour's shadow schools minister has said "nobody in their right minds" thinks Ofsted should resume its routine inspections in January.
Speaking at the Schools and Academies Show today Mr Streeting said: “Nobody in their right mind thinks that it is desirable, let alone practical to resume routine Ofsted inspections in January.
"What do we expect inspectors to find? They won't be routine conditions.
"How do we expect schools, local authorities and multi academy trusts to release headteachers to make those inspections happen. It is the wrong focus, the wrong priority.”
Inspection is coming but won't be a 'frenzy'
Yesterday we heard from both the secretary of state and the chief inspector on Ofsted return plans - and the topline is they haven't decided yet.
Gavin Williamson told a conference that inspections in some form were needed soon, but how and when they will happen is still being negotiated with the watchdog and the sector.
Amanda Spielman told the same conference that schools shouldn't expect a 'frenzy' of inspection to kick-off from next year as the inspectorate would make a 'gradual return' to full inspections.
Elsewhere, the pressure from local leaders in Hull intensified around being given the power to make local school closure decisions, and an exclusive story from Tes revealed how teachers in the city feel they are being forced to play 'Russian roulette' as they continue to attend work in England's worst Covid hotspot.
You can catch up on all of the rest of yesterday's coronavirus-related schools news here.