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?
Concern a minority of schools are putting teachers at needless risk
Too many staff are being drafted in than are needed to help schools stay open during the coronavirus crisis, putting health at risk unnecessarily, teachers have warned.
The overstaffing "problem" has led to teachers being asked to clean out cupboards and refresh displays, according to the NEU teaching union.
"This is really about ethical and moral leadership," says NEU joint general secretary Mary Bousted. "It's about recognising that your staff are human beings, they're not your property, and they have lives, and they have dependents and responsibilities.
"And if you are going to lead effectively you will look after them as best you can, while fulfilling the duty that teachers and support staff and leaders are doing at the moment.
"But if we're going to ask them to make that sacrifice then we have to take care of them as much as possible.
"The fewer staff you have in, the less chance you have of them catching the virus and spreading it on."
Full story here.
Teachers can help stem the rise of "inadvertent racism" during crises like the current pandemic say experts
Teaching empathy and information navigation skills can help combat prejudice that can emerge during a crisis such as the current outbreak situation, new research has shown.
Social media can fuel a rise in "inadvertent racism" due to misinformation - but education providers can help pupils with 'social learning' and avoid "likely falsehoods" the paper says.
Read more here.
Ofqual to publish detailed update on this summer’s GCSE and A levels
The exams regulator has said more details about how this year’s GCSE and A level grades will be awarded is forthcoming next week.
And it added that it will “outline by Easter the process we will follow to make sure grades are fair across schools and colleges, as well as our proposals for appeals. We will also say more as soon as possible about the arrangements for additional exams in the new academic year”.
The regulator said it wanted to reassure pupils waiting for news that “we are doing everything we can to make sure they are not disadvantaged by these unprecedented circumstances”.
Once it has gone, will the impact of Covid-19 on schools leave an opportunity to reshape learning?
It is as yet unclear when schools will reopen fully or if they will be subject to indefinite ongoing interruptions and temporary closures, writes Kate Chhatwal, chief exec of Challenge Partners, for Tes today.
She argues that amidst the challenges posed by up to a year or more of tighter and looser restrictions, there could be a great opportunity to rethink education and achieve something substantially better than before.
'I've never been more certain that I want to teach'
“No other cohort of trainee teachers has ever experienced a year like this one,” writes PGCE student Peter Langdon for Tes today.
“But when, in years to come, I look back on the last few weeks, I won’t be brooding on something that I’ve lost.
“The resilience, calm and compassion of teachers in response to this crisis will be an example that I will take with me as I begin my career, and for as long as it lasts.”
Read the full article here.
Are school hubs safe during this pandemic?
Head teachers' union ASCL is questioning the safety of some schools and local authority plans to move staff and pupils into hub schools at a time when social distancing is paramount.
Such a move is also being hotly debated online by teachers and school leaders concerned about ensuring they can follow guidelines designed to limit the spread of Covid-19.
Read more here.
Williamson recognises wellbeing concerns in emotive letter to schools
Teachers may say it’s been a long time coming, but many will be thankful nonetheless for Gavin Williamson’s words of gratitude for those currently working on the front line.
The education secretary has written to schools, acknowledging teachers' anxiety about wellbeing and thanking them for their "vital service" in these unprecedented times.
Mr Williamson said he wanted to express his "deepest gratitude" for all the work schools are doing for their communities, adding that he had heard "extraordinary examples" of teachers and leaders responding with "flexibility, pragmatism and creativity" in "unparalleled circumstances".
He added: "I will do everything in my power to support you."
MPs to probe support for teachers during virus outbreak and exam cancellation
A parliamentary inquiry was launched last night to investigate how teachers will be supported financially during the coronavirus epidemic, as well as how fairly GCSEs and A levels will be graded following the cancellation of exams.
In a letter to education secretary Gavin Williamson today, Robert Halfon, chair of the Commons Education Select Committee, called for clarity.
With Parliament now shut down for at least four weeks, quite when the MPs will finish their investigation is anyone’s guess.
But this is what they will be looking into:
The committee will look into:
- The critical workers' policy, and how consistently the definition of "critical" work is being applied across the country and how schools are supported to remain open for children of critical workers.
- The capacity of children’s services to support vulnerable children and young people.
- The effect of provider closure on the early years sector.
- The effect of cancelling formal exams, including the fairness of qualifications awarded and pupils’ progression to the next stage of education or employment.
- Support for pupils and families during closures, including
- The consistency of messaging from schools and further and higher education providers on remote learning.
- Children’s and young people’s mental health and safety outside of the structure and oversight of in-person education.
- The effect on apprenticeships and other workplace-based education courses.
- The financial implications of closures for providers (including higher education and independent training providers), pupils and families
- The effect on disadvantaged groups, including the Department for Education’s approach to free school meals and the long-term impact on the most vulnerable groups (such as pupils with special educational needs and disabilities and children in need)
- What contingency planning can be done to ensure the resilience of the sector in case of any future national emergency.
Some recognition for teachers’ efforts
Good morning, yesterday as teachers began to settle in to their changed routines there was some well deserved praise for the lengths they are going to.
Parents, celebrities and colleagues all joined in paying tribute those working on education’s new frontline.
Today teaching unions are expected to respond with their own guidance for members.
You can catch up on yesterday’s blog here.