Welcome to the Tes coronavirus liveblog. The outbreak of Covid-19 is an uncertain time for everyone, but schools and teachers are facing unprecedented disruption with schools now closed and exams cancelled.
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?
GCSE pupil: 'I'm worried my cohort will be stigmatised'
The bane of my existence for the past few years has been maths,” writes Year 11 pupil Rosa Boyd for Tes today.
“I knew that, to get into sixth form, I needed a grade 6. I have worked extraordinarily hard to reach this. In fact, I had planned to see my tutor tomorrow, and he asked me to do a past paper for him. I was halfway through when I got the news. Do I need to finish it? Will I ever have to do maths again?”
Headteachers at SEND schools call for clarification on how to stay open amid staff shortages
Claire Dorer, the chief executive of NASS (National Association of Independent and Non Maintained Special Schools), said headteachers at schools with EHCP pupils are concerned that they are being expected to stay open when staffing shortages might mean it is no longer safe to do so.
NASS is calling for further guidance after the education secretary Gavin Williamson's announcement yesterday that schools with greater than ten percent of vulnerable children on their roll must stay open.
Coronavirus closure checklist published
School business leaders have compiled a full closure checklist for schools preparing to shutdown from next week.
It covers everything from keeping in touch and supporting staff and vulnerable pupils to ensuring school premises are safe.
'Who knows if we'll see our Year 6 pupils again?'
“We all knew that potential closures were on their way, and yet the shock of having to sit and write the letter to parents explaining things is extraordinary,” writes headteacher Michael Tidd in an article for Tes today explaining the "heartbreaking " challenge teachers face as schools prepare to shutdown.
“How do I say to a community that is inextricably woven into my daily life that we must now say, if not “Goodbye”, then at least “Au revoir”?
“I’ve written before in Tes about the gap that teachers feel after saying farewell to a class who have been such an important part of every day. To have to do so at such short notice, in such strained circumstances, and with such uncertainty ahead, is heart-breaking.”
Read the full article here.
Award GCSEs based on predicted grades following "extraordinary" exam cancellations say experts
GCSEs should be awarded to pupils based on predicted grades following the government’s ‘extraordinary’ step of cancelling exams, academics from the UCL Centre for Education Policy and Equalising Opportunities (CEPEO) have said.
Rescheduling exams to later in the year could negatively impact children from lower socio-economic backgrounds for reasons including not getting access to private tutoring like middle class peers, they explain.
The academics say that the government is likely to be concerned with awarding predicted grades because research has shown the equally able children from poor backgrounds will be predicted lower grades than their peers from richer backgrounds.
However, there are statistical ways of identifying schools with suspiciously high or low grades by looking at how pupils have performed in GCSEs in previous years, they said.
“By making clear that there will be such checks on schools, it will greatly reduce any temptation to game the system,” said Professor John Jerrim.
Exams cancelled in Scotland
Coronavirus has led to the cancellation of exams in Scotland.
Education secretary John Swinney said that since 1888 the exams had never been cancelled, even during the two world wars, which showed the “gravity” of the coronavirus outbreak.
Measures to support vulnerable pupils and the children of key medical and other professionals were also announced.
Exam boards to work with teachers to assess pupils and award grades
The Federation of Awarding Bodies - a group representing all UK exam boards - has said that teacher assessments with external moderation might be used as a way of assessing pupils, along with the possibility of using technology to assess pupils remotely.
Speaking to the BBC this morning, Tom Bewick said talks were advanced and details would be available soon.
Vouchers for free school meals becomes official policy
The government has endorsed moves by head teachers to organise food vouchers so FSM pupils can continue to have access to meals after schools close next week.
Headteachers had been speculating on social media how best to ensure they can still ensure free school meal funding reaches eligible pupils, and had been waiting to hear if providing supermarket vouchers would become official guidance, since meeting with DfE officials last week.
How GCSE and A level grades will be assessed amidst cancelled exams to be revealed tomorrow
Students due to sit GCSE and A levels will still receive grades this year despite exams being cancelled due to coronavirus, the education secretary has said.
The methodology for awarding grades is due to be revealed tomorrow, Gavin Williamson told the BBC Today programme this morning.
Schools to provide 'safe spaces' - not education - for key workers' children
Children who continue to be able to attend school because they are either vulnerable or their parents are identified as "key workers" will not be following the national curriculum, the education secretary has said.
Schools will stay open in some form to provide a safe space for pupils in the identified groups, which will be clarified by the Cabinet Office shortly, but will include NHS staff and food distribution drivers, Mr Williamson said on the BBC Today programme this morning.
He added that schools should remain open if such children made up more than ten per cent of their roll.
Teachers need clarity now the decision to close UK schools and shelve exams has finally been taken
Good morning. Welcome to another busy day on the Tes coronavirus liveblog as we start trying to unpick the huge implications of yesterday’s two unprecedented announcements.
We all knew it was coming but we perhaps didn’t realise how quick it would be. But now we know - all UK schools are to close from tomorrow afternoon for the foreseeable future.
And the obvious knock-on announcement from that is that this summer’s GCSEs and A levels have been cancelled.
But the speed of events appears to mean that the government has been forced to announce this without any clear replacement plans in place. So at the moment it asks more questions than it answers and we will be trying to unpick them today.
For a recap on Wednesday’s momentous events see yesterday’s liveblog.