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.
Tutoring scheme needs to last 3 years, PM told
The government's catch-up tutoring scheme "will not be enough to mitigate the exponential learning loss that children and young people have experienced".
That's what leading education figures including prominent academy trust leaders and tutoring company chiefs have told Boris Johnson, in a letter calling for the programme to be extended from one to three years.
Some of the signatories, including the heads of The Tutor Trust and Action Tutoring, represent accredited providers delivering subsidised sessions as part of the current scheme.
Read the full story here.
DfE's school tier system goes down the drain
It's barely been used - with no schools moved onto rota systems or closed to the majority of pupils.
Now the DfE's four-tiered contingency framework for keeping schools open during the Covid crisis is being scrapped altogether.
The change will formalise the national policy that schools must remain fully open. The idea of partial measures dependent on local circumstances, such as rotas or some year groups being sent home, is being officially abandoned, Tes understands.
Read the full story here.
Catch-up phonics test proves unpopular with teachers
When assessments were cancelled in the summer, the DfE said pupils who may need support should not be "overlooked" as a result of missing their Year 1 phonics check.
But it has now emerged that running an autumn catch-up test may actually be "detrimental" to more able children's reading development.
More than two thirds of teachers responding to a UCL survey said delivering the autumn test had "reduced the time spent on other literacy activities", with some suggesting there had been a focus on fluent readers "relearning to segment words".
Read the full story here.
Am I selfish not wanting to spend Christmas isolating?
In the latest announcement from Number 10, the country was informed that changes to social restrictions over Christmas would not require any children to be taken out of school prematurely, writes Yorkshire secondary teacher Louise Lewis. Therefore, most schools will remain open until five days before Christmas.
But what are the consequences for teachers? Self-isolation could hit teachers at a moment’s notice. Is it really selfish to be constantly worried that everything you touch, every breath you take could lead to a loved one becoming ill?
Is it really selfish to worry that the Christmas break, which is normally the only work-free holiday of the year, could be plagued with illness, with no time to recuperate?
Covid leaves school staff 'scared for their life'
“I’m scared for my life at work.”
That’s how one support staff member described their experience working in a school during the pandemic.
They were responding to a survey which suggests the majority of school staff have experienced Covid outbreaks in their school since the start of the pandemic.
The survey of more than 7,100 support staff found that more than two in three (68 per cent) said testing was not available in school for pupils and staff with coronavirus symptoms.
You can read the full story here.
Teachers missing the staffroom
One of the 'most difficult' parts of teaching during the pandemic is not being able to chat with colleagues over a cup of tea in the staffroom.
That’s according to Dame Alison Peacock, chief executive of the Chartered College of Teaching, who said: “You can’t go and get your cup of tea and sit down next to someone and say, ‘Oh that was a really difficult lesson’ and hope that they might look up from something and give you a bit of advice.”
But she told the online annual conference of Nasbtt (The National Association of School-Based Teacher Trainers) today that staffroom conversations could still take place in other ways, including on WhatsApp.
Read the story here.
Schools ‘clinging on’ as ‘Covid runs riot’
Reaction from teaching and heads' union leaders to the stark pupil attendance figures f has been very strong.
Mary Bousted and Kevin Courtney, the joint general secretaries of the National Education Union, said that the data showed a "collapse" in school attendance, which they claimed has been caused by DfE negligence on stopping the spread of Covid in schools. They warned that coronavirus was now "running riot" in schools.
And Geoff Barton, the general secretary of the Association of School and College Leaders, said the figures showed that schools were facing disruption on a “monumental scale” and were now just "clinging" on to get to the end of term.
Covid cases in schools rising steadily after half term
The latest attendance figures are out from the Department for Education and they do not make for pleasant reading.
Attendance is continuing to drop, and the number of schools with Covid cases continues to rise - as it has done each week since the half term.
The latest figures show 876,000 pupils were off last Thursday because of Covid and three in four secondary schools had pupils who were off after potential contact with a confirmed Covid case in their school.
The data also shows attendance is down to 83 per cent in state schools and 78 per cent in secondary schools.
Tests reveal extent of pupils’ ‘dramatic’ learning loss
Headteachers have revealed "dramatic" levels of learning loss among exam groups this year after carrying out mock exams and catch-up tests.
The Association of School and College Leaders asked members for feedback regarding how Year 11 and 13 have fared after the lockdown, with some reporting drastic levels of learning loss.
One head reported that, having completed assessments for Year 11, their view was that "grades are almost a grade down on where we were at this time last year" – or 0.7 of a grade on average.
They added that "by far the greatest problem is trying to put together an action plan with 34 students from Year 11 that are self-isolating and being taught remotely".
Academy trust forced to back down from plan to end term a week early
A multi academy trust that had wanted to close schools a week early to protect “precious family time together” at Christmas from Covid disruption for its staff and pupils was warned by the government that it had legal powers it could use to direct them to stay open.
Focus Trust multi academy trust had announced that it was shutting its 15 schools in the North of England a week early after a significant rise in Covid cases in its community.
But the trust has now withdrawn this plan after being asked to review it by the DfE. The trust said last night that it was told by the department that academies have “ no freedoms” to make decisions over Covid.
We can see a way out of lockdown, but exam plans are still tbc
The plan for emerging out of national lockdown is starting to look clearer after the government announced its winter Covid plan yesterday. For schools, the plan contains strict instructions not to finish term early.
But the landscape for next summer's GCSE and A Level exams is still less than clear. At yesterday's education questions, the education secretary and schools minister declined to answer a barrage of questions on the topic, instead simply repeating the line that details would follow "shortly".
You can catch up on the rest of yesterday's coronavirus news here.