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.
Teachers ‘deserve better’ than a pay freeze
Chancellor Rishi Sunak’s spending review announcement that teachers would not receive a pay rise next year has unsurprisingly been criticised by teaching leaders.
Mary Bousted, joint general secretary of the National Education Union, said: “The chancellor said he wants stronger public services but has delivered a body blow to staff in our schools and colleges.” Dr Bousted pointed out that teachers were 'flat out' from keeping schools open during the pandemic - a fact that led Labour’s shadow education secretary Kate Green to say they “deserve better”.
Read the full story here
What's distancing like for a student who can't see?
Getting his guide dog changed FE student Robert’s life. For the first time in his life, he became part of the crowd, moving to the flow of the world like everyone else.
But then the pandemic hit and changed everything.
So how is he coping, considering he cannot see the other learners he is meant to keep distanced from, and neither he nor Winnie, the guide dog, can read the signage?
Find out here.
Heads leader says schools and not Whitehall should decide on rotas
Geoff Barton, the general secretary of the Association of School and College leaders, has made the case for schools to be given freedom to make their own “operational” decisions about how they stay open during the Covid crisis.
His comments come after it emerged that the Department for Education had told an academy trust which wanted to finish term a week early for Christmas that it had the power to order them to keep schools open – under Coronavirus Act legislation.
Tes revealed yesterday the DfE is planning to abandon its four tier system and simply have schools either open or closed to all but vulnerable pupils and the children of key workers.
Regional grading of exams is ‘completely impossible’
With Covid cases in schools causing increasing, disruption the debate over how and if exams should run next year continues apace.
Today an Ofqual advisor and leading academic warned that plans to use a regional grading system to take into account the differing levels of disruption caused by the coronavirus would be “completely impossible.”
Prof Robert Coe said: “The mistake is to think that the exam grading system could redress this injustice – if you like, this inequality.”
The idea of taking the regional imbalance in the impact of Covid into account in exam grading was put forward by Labour’s shadow education secretary Kate Green.
Why school rotas could have been a total nightmare
In recent weeks, endless column inches have been taken up with speculation about what tier we are all going to be in, once lockdown is lifted and the world can return to the gym and Primark, writes Emily Gunton, director of music at Blackheath High School, in South London.
One thing we do know is that the government seems to be practising U-turns like they are in a car with L-plates. There should be no surprise that there has now been a U-ey on school rotas. Anyone else feeling dizzy after a year of education one-eighties?
The biggest surprise of all this is that it isn't really a surprise. Some areas of the country that have been hardest hit by Covid have battled through nearly three months of disruption, yet have only stayed in Tier 1. Their cries for rotas and school closures in the face of spiralling staff absences and rising Covid cases have fallen on deaf ears.
School Covid cases rise again to hit 73% of secondaries
Yesterday saw new official figures spell out the tough reality for increasing numbers of schools as Covid cases rose to hit nearly three quarters of the secondary sector.
But we also revealed that the idea of using rotas to cope with this increase is about to be officially ruled out by the Department for Education.
And we shed some light on the sheer scale of the learning loss suffered by GCSE and A level students in some of these schools.
You can catch up with more of yesterday’s coronavirus related schools news here.