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 schools 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 denied tests over not being ‘key workers’
Teachers have been turned away from coronavirus testing facilities and told by staff that they are not “key workers”, with some reporting that their schools have been left under-staffed as a result.
Headteacher Jenna Crittenden said that she had been left without a deputy headteacher who was turned away from a testing facility.
And teacher Hayley Dole said she had been told by staff at one centre that teachers were not key workers, so she could not be tested.
Mary Bousted, joint general secretary of the NEU teaching union, said: "Teachers are key workers, so why do the people at testing sites not know that? It’s either poor training or it’s not being communicated to them.”
Teachers fifth in line for priority Covid tests
Health secretary Matt Hancock has revealed teachers are the fifth group to be prioritised for coronavirus testing, behind NHS staff and above the general public.
Speaking in the House of Commons today, he said acute clinical care would be prioritised for testing first, followed by care homes and NHS staff. Fourth would be “targeted testing for outbreak management and surveillance studies” and fifth, “testing for teaching staff with symptoms, so we can keep schools and classes open”.
“And then the general public when they have symptoms, prioritising those in areas of high incidence,” he added.
New Scottish Covid measures will prioritise keeping schools open
Scottish first minister Nicola Sturgeon says that keeping schools open will remain a priority when she announces new Covid-19 measures within the next two days.
Ms Sturgeon said that she had hoped prime minister Boris Johnson would convene a meeting of the Cobra emergency committee shortly, and that the various UK governments would come up with a coordinated response to the rising number of coronavirus cases.
If not, she still plans to reveal the Scottish response by Wednesday at the latest.
Schools have been let down by the government on Covid-19
It has already been a long year for school staff, and a union leader has warned that many have not had a break since before the coronavirus lockdown.
Paul Whiteman, the NAHT school leaders’ union’s general secretary, said that during this time heads have been let down by the government’s poor and late advice and decision making throughout the coronavirus crisis.
He reels off a long list of examples of schools getting late advice or facing problems because of government decisions, including the testing problems we're seeing today.
Headteachers “at the end of their tether” over testing
With an ongoing pandemic and a lack of testing options, schools become a rather difficult place to manage.
It doesn’t help when teachers are denied tests or a newly-appointed deputy is left alone running the show as the other senior leaders are off sick.
These are some examples of what a lack of testing is doing to staff on the ground, as highlighted by the Chartered College of Teaching in a letter to the Department of Health and Social Care.
Read more here.
How dare Gavin Williamson criticise teachers for lockdown learning work?
"I know that I often refer to classes – or any groups of pupils – as “folks”, and I know, too, that my strongest tellings off are punctuated with “how dare you?”.
Every teacher has their overused phrases, whether they realise it or not, writes Michael Tidd.
Right now, it’s not pupils – folks or otherwise – who will face his wrath, though. It’s the government. Education secretary Gavin Williamson chose to criticise teachers last week for not doing enough in the early stages of lockdown to help children learning at home. How dare he?
Calling all inspirational teachers
Fancy teaching your favourite lesson to the nation, with radio presenter and children’s author Greg James?
The Radio 1 DJ is on the lookout for the UK’s most inspirational teachers to deliver their “favourite lesson” as part of his new podcast series.
“It doesn’t have to be a lesson that you teach at school already. It could be your favourite thing from history, your favourite bit of geography, your favourite quirk of a language, or some art, or something – make it interesting or make it fun,” he said.
Interested? Email firstname.lastname@example.org.
I’m on the hunt for inspirational teachers...— Greg James (@gregjames) September 18, 2020
email@example.com if you can help pic.twitter.com/GA8HfLkAEU
Lockdown sparks teacher training revival
In so many ways, the past six months have been a huge headache for schools, colleges and universities alike.
But, in more positive news, new research suggests we could have lockdown to thank for mitigating – if not fixing – the teacher recruitment crisis (in the short term, that is).
The Covid-19 sparked recession has reignited interest in the teacher training sector – with a 35 per cent year-on-year increase in applications between March and August, according to a new report from the NFER.
But heads have warned that current working conditions in schools – such as an “eye-watering level of accountability” – are “not conducive to teacher retention over the long term”.
The research also found that the increase in teacher training applications, combined with a placement shortage sparked by the Covid-19 crisis, created a “bottleneck” in the recruitment system.
'Don't take teachers' support for school reopenings for granted,' PM told
The leaders of Britain’s largest education union have written to Boris Johnson calling for emergency measures if schools and colleges are to stay safe.
The letter, signed by leaders of the NEU teaching union, said: “It is now clear that your government has not managed to ensure that testing is sufficiently available to meet the predictable need when 12 million children and their staff returned to school in England.”
It states: “The situation needs addressing as a matter of urgency. Children and staff should be a high priority for the testing regime.”
Read the full story here.
Crunch point for schools and country
With warnings that the pandemic has reached a crunch point, the big question is what happens next, and how this will affect schools.
The government's chief scientific and medical advisers are due to give a briefing later this morning, where it is expected that they will leave us in no doubt as to the seriousness of the situation facing us as we head into the colder months.
And will the government finally sort out the testing fiasco which is causing huge disruption to schools?
We'll bring you all the latest updates, and you can catch up on last week's developments here.