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: email@example.com; firstname.lastname@example.org and Mary-Louise.Clews@tes.com.
Thousands of private school pupils 'may' have got inflated GCSE grades
New data on the 2020 GCSE results shows that while the attainment gap between disadvantaged pupils and their peers did not widen in 2020, over 6,000 GCSE entries, mostly from private schools, may have received "disproportionately overestimated" grades.
The analysis from Ofqual found there was “some evidence that some 6,300 GCSE entries by low prior attainers with unknown socioeconomic status (most of whom are at independent schools) may have received disproportionately overestimated grades”.
However, the attainment gap in 2020 narrowed overall, after slightly increasing over the two previous years.
Covid: DfE admits schools still have issues getting laptops
The DfE’s top official has admitted she would be “astonished” if schools no longer had any issues with getting all the laptops they needed.
DfE permanent secretary Susan Acland Hood was speaking to MPs on the House of Commons Public Accounts Committee this morning when she also admitted the figures she had for how many laptops had been delivered to schools were “out of date”.
She said more than 220,000 laptops and tablets had been delivered to schools in the summer term and that another 340,000 are available this term, of which more than 100,000 had already been delivered to schools. But then she admitted: “The number I’ve got on my brief is a little bit out of date and I might write to the committee on this if that’s helpful.”
Read the story here
Schools could close over Covid costs, warns DfE
The Department for Education suggested this morning that funding problems during the pandemic could lead to schools closing as they grapple with extra cleaning and staff costs.
Susan Acland-Hood, the DfE's acting permanent secretary, made her comments after an MP emphasised the extra pressure on school budgets created by the coronavirus. MP Richard Holden said one local school estimated the pandemic would cost them £100 per pupil per head this year.
“We are talking to the Treasury to make sure that we don’t ever get into a position where funding is a reason schools have to close during the pandemic, and we hope to be able to say a bit more about that soon," she said.
Half of students got strong passes in 2020 GCSEs
New government data on this year’s GCSE results revealed that nearly half of all students achieved a strong pass in English and maths, with grades receiving a boost from the use of teacher assessment.
The proportion of students achieving a grade 5 or above in both English and maths increased from 43.2 per cent in 2019 to 49.9 per cent in 2020. Grade 5 is seen as a “strong pass” and is equivalent to a low B or high C grade in pre-reformed GCSEs.
“The increase is a consequence of the way GCSE grades were awarded in 2020 and the higher proportion of entries graded at 5 and above,” a government statement said.
Secondary school pupil Covid infection rates reach highest level yet, ONS data reveals
New data from the Office for National Statistics shows that last week secondary school pupils were the only age group which saw Covid rates increasing.
Its latest survey also reveals that infection rates remain highest among secondary school pupils and young adults in the week to Saturday November 21.
Infection rates for secondary school pupils increased to its highest point so far at 2.28 per cent on November 16 and 17 but has begun to fall, the survey reveals.
'Extremely' vulnerable teachers allowed back to school
When the second national lockdown was announced at the beginning of November, extremely vulnerable school staff were advised to work from home.
But have now been told they can return to work from next week under the government's reformed triple-tier system.
Guidance updated by the DfE today stated that, from 2 December, when blanket national restrictions come to an end, "all staff can continue to attend school in all three local restriction tiers".
Read the full story here.
Teacher stress 'rocketing' during the pandemic
Teachers have experienced “rocketing stress levels” since schools reopened in September as they have struggled to implement Covid safety measures with "limited resources or support", research shows.
Read the full story here.
'Teachers feel underappreciated like never before'
A teacher in Scotland decided to take action after coming to the conclusion that, in the midst of the coronavirus pandemic, his profession was feeling more undervalued and under-appreciated than ever.
Douglas Clark asked more than 1,000 colleagues how Covid could be made more bearable – here's what they said.
Thankyou to teachers - but don't expect financial reward
Yesterday was dominated by the Chancellor Rishi Sunak's spending review statement in which he revealed that, alongside many other public sector workers, teachers pay would be frozen from next year as part of the government's efforts to balance the books after the pandemic.
The announcement was met with an immediate backlash from teachers and unions, who described the move as a 'slap in the face' and a 'body-blow to flat out teachers' who are exhausted from trying to keep schools open and learning happening during the crisis.
The sentiment was probably best summed up by this Tweet from teacher Debra Kidd:
To catch-up on the rest of yesterday's news click here.