COVID-19 Edu Updates

Updates impacting on education during the 2020 Coronavirus pandemic

List of keyworkers published. Further guidance on England-based GCSE and A-Level now revealed.

Updates were chronological starting with the latest. Please scroll down to see resources, ideas and updates.

Further updates will be placed in our “news” section. Please click here to see the latest.

Monday 23rd March 2020

A headteacher in Cumbria, England is reported to have died after being diagnosed with COVID-19 earlier in the week and was being treated intensive care in hospital. Wendy Jacobs was headteacher of Roose Primary School, as reported on the LancashireLive website.

Friday 20th March 2020


14.30 (UK) 🏴󠁧󠁢󠁥󠁮󠁧󠁿 The Department for Education, alongside Ofqual, have announced procedures for grading GCSE and A-Level results this summer due to the cancellation of the exams. This is the official line announced today: GCSE, AS & A-levels are awarded a grade which fairly reflects the work have put in. Ofqual are seting out a process that will provide a calculated grade to each student which reflects their performance as fairly as possible. The exam boards will be asking teachers, who know their students well, to submit their judgement about the grade that they believe the student would have received if exams had gone ahead. Teachers will take into account a range of evidence and data including performance on mock exams and non-exam assessment – clear guidance on how to do this fairly and robustly will be provided to school.

The aim is to provide these calculated grades to students before the end of July, 2020. If students do not feel their calculated grade reflects their performance, they will have the opportunity to sit an exam at the earliest reasonable opportunity, once schools are open again.

07.30 (UK) 🔑 Keyworker list published: The UK government has published a list for schools to continue to provide provision for students whose parents work in the following sectors – Health and social care; Education and childcare; Key public services; Local and national government; Food and other necessary goods; Public safety and national security; Transport; Utilities, communication and financial services.

Additionally, schools should also provide for vulnerable children including children who are supported by social care, those with safeguarding and welfare needs, including child in need plans, on child protection plans, ‘looked after’ children, young carers, disabled children and those with education, health and care (EHC) plans. Schools are asked to follow key principles. See the full guidance by clicking here.


Thursday 19th March 2020


18.25 (UK) Northern Ireland announced that A level and GCSE exams in Northern Ireland will not go ahead this summer due to the coronavirus pandemic, but pupils will still get results. The system that would be used to award grades would be “a combination of prior achievements, internal assessments, predicted grades, analysis and modelling of existing data trends to provide the necessary assurance about the robustness, accuracy and fairness of the grades awarded”, said the Edu Secretary Peter Weir.


17.15 (UK) 🇬🇧Daily press conference – PM Boris Johnson sees timescale that will turn the tide in the next 12 weeks if we take the steps that have been outlined.


15.30 (UK) 🏴󠁧󠁢󠁳󠁣󠁴󠁿 Pupils will be graded on coursework, teacher assessment and prior grades which will help build up the results for students in Scotland as exams across the country are cancelled.


14.10 (UK) 🍽 The Government has today published guidance for schools giving them the flexibility to provide meals or shop vouchers to the 1.3 million disadvantaged children entitled to free school meals if they are no longer attending school, either due to closures or as a result of self-isolating at home. The guidance for schools states they can choose to support eligible children however they believe is most appropriate and headteachers can decide which of the available options will be best for families in their area. Effective immediately, schools will be able to order vouchers directly from supermarkets or shops in their communities to be emailed or printed and posted to families, and they will have their costs covered by the Department for Education.


13.50 (UK) ❓Clarification about GCSE’s and A-Levels in Northern Ireland and Wales, along with Higher Exams in Scotland is still awaited.


13.50 (UK) 🕔 List of ‘key workers’ will be published later today, setting out the children that schools should still teach during the COVID-19 situation. Examples yesterday given as health workers and delivery drivers, but more clarification to be given today.


08.30 (UK) 📣 Gavin Williamson confirms that further details will be provided tomorrow (Friday) with regards to qualifications and the awarding of grades. Additionally, information will be released about how pupils can appeal their grades.


08.00 (UK) 📝 Schools, colleges and teachers calling for clarification regarding GCSE and A-Level exams in England due to take place in the coming months, and how students will receive fairly judged qualifications. Ofqual working with DfE to work through the detail of the decision.



Wednesday 18th March 2020


20.15 (UK) 📣 Further to the previous announcements, Ofqual (the exam regulator) said: We welcome the certainty that the Secretary of State’s decision not to hold exams this summer provides in these challenging circumstances. We will now work urgently with the Department for Education to work through the detail of this decision and to provide more information as soon as possible.


17.20 (UK) 🔒Gavin Williamson makes a statement to UK Parliament about schools in England to close from Friday, with a cease of inspections, all exams and assessments, along with league table publications for this academic year.


17.10 (UK) 📣Northern Ireland schools now also closing after school today.


16.55 (UK) 😷Teaching unions have called on Arlene Foster and Michelle O’Neill to set a date for school closures within Northern Ireland.


16.30 (UK) 🏴󠁧󠁢󠁥󠁮󠁧󠁿Education secretary Gavin Williamson making a statement in UK Parliament at 5pm announcing plans for schools.


14.15 (UK) 🏴󠁧󠁢󠁳󠁣󠁴󠁿 The first minister of Scotland, Nicola Sturgeon, has announced that schools have lost too many staff to operate effectively and will close from Friday, following the announcement earlier by the Welsh Government to do the same. This places more pressure on the English schools to do the same, something the Prime Minister has repeatedly refused to do up until now.


13.15 (UK) 🏴󠁧󠁢󠁷󠁬󠁳󠁿 All schools in Wales will close by Friday at the latest in response to the coronavirus outbreak, the Welsh Government has announced. Education Minister Kirsty Williams said she was bringing forward the Easter break.


12.30 (UK) ⏺ Prime minister praises teachers and thanks them for their work in keeping schools open. He declares that further decisions will be taken ‘imminently’ on schools, that will square the circle of stopping the spread of the disease.


07.40 (UK) 📖 Scholastic (USA) creates a webpage for teaching remotely, with free daily learning activities for different age groups. Aimed at a USA audience (with some Spanish language resources) the page is available by clicking here.

07.15 (UK) 👩🏼‍🏫 Former #UKEdChat regular Emma Hardy MP admirably offers teaching services to schools in her local area, should they be short of staff, to keep schools open. One response points out the needs for all the safeguard checking – enhanced DBS, references, check the prohibited list & s128, written risk assessment … by the time all the checks are done, COVID-19 could be a distant memory.

Tuesday 17th March 2020


15.40 (UK) 📝 Exam provider EdExcel has issued a statement saying that they are closely monitoring the impact of Coronavirus (COVID-19) and following guidance from the UK government and Department for Education. As the situation unfolds, we remain committed to minimising disruption and supporting schools to ensure learning can continue during this period of uncertainty. We are unable to find information from other GCSE exam providers about what is likely to happen to the UK exam season starting in May.


15.15 (UK) 📣 What other schools are doing: From tomorrow, Stockport Academy will be closed to Y8 and 9 students – except those whose parents work in front line emergency or health services. Y7, 10 and 11 should still attend school as normal, via Stockport Academy Twitter.


14.30 (UK) 📋 The Secretary of State has allowed Her Majesty’s Chief Inspector to temporarily suspend all routine inspections of schools, further education, early years and social care providers. Ofsted inspections in England temporarily suspended. Urgent inspections where specific concerns have been raised can still go ahead. This will allow prioritising the immediate safety of children where necessary.


The England Education Secretary talking about latest update for schools.

14.00 (UK) – 💒 In light of the Government guidance around non-essential contact, the Archbishops of Canterbury and York have issued advice that public worship is suspended until further notice. Churches should be open where possible but with no public worship services taking place. The Muslim Council of Britain has also suspended Friday prayers.


12.45 (UK) ✈️ All UK citizens advised to avoid all international travel by the Foreign and Commonwealth Office for 30 days.


12.35 (UK) 📱 Todo Maths App is offering a 14-day free trial for parents. There are more than 2,000 interactive math activities to select from aimed at younger learners. The iPad app can be found by clicking here.


12.10 (UK) 🏃🏼‍♀️ Wanting to keep fit at home during an enforced school closure? At the time of writing, Peloton is offering its home workout app free for 90 days – no treadmill or bike needed. See https://www.onepeloton.co.uk/app for more information.


12.00 (UK) 💻 The New York Times reported on how the digital divide in China meant that learning opportunities for some students fell behind as access to connectivity and computer hardware could not be assumed for all students. The article reported how some students hiked for hours to listen to online classes on mountaintops, the only place they could get a decent phone signal. Teachers in other societies are encouraged to think about possible digital divides when considering online lessons during a forced closure, to ensure pupils who are susceptible to fall behind feel included.


07.30 (UK) 📰 On Monday the country’s two biggest headteacher unions, the Association of School and College Leaders and the National Association of Head Teachers, held talks with England’s Education Secretary Gavin Williamson.

In a joint statement following the meeting, the unions said: “We have had a very productive meeting with the secretary of state this afternoon, discussing the implications of the coronavirus emergency for schools and colleges.

“This is clearly a very difficult situation and a very challenging scenario for school leaders, and the Government is well aware of our concerns.

“We will continue working with the Government to identify and tackle a number of issues for schools and colleges arising from the coronavirus emergency.

“We expect to hold further talks with the secretary of state and his officials later this week.”

Tipping point

They went on: “The most immediately pressing challenge is the difficulty in keeping schools open with growing numbers of staff having to self-isolate.

“It is likely that a number of schools will have to close because there are too few staff available to teach, support and supervise children.”

The unions said they flagged concerns about the implications for children with special educational needs and disabilities. They also said they were worried about the impact of school closures or self-isolation on children receiving free school meals and on vulnerable children with an identified safeguarding risk.

UK Exams

The statement added: “There is also the crucial question of Sats, GCSE and A-level exams which are scheduled in May and June.

“We must move quickly to provide clarity and address the obvious anxiety for pupils, families and staff about what may or may not happen, and what contingencies are in place to deal with the inevitable disruption.”

In a statement, the Department for Education said: “The Education Secretary met with organisations representing school leaders as part of ongoing engagement to ensure that the coronavirus outbreak has the least possible impact on children’s education, and assure them that any actions taken will be based on the latest medical and scientific guidance.

“The Government’s advice continues to be for all schools to remain open unless Public Health England instruct them otherwise.”

Updated safeguarding guidance

The Government also released updated safeguarding guidance for schools on what to do if pupils develop symptoms consistent with the coronavirus.

Any child who becomes unwell with a new, continuous cough or a high temperature should be sent home.

The guidance says that if a child is awaiting collection “they should be moved, if possible and if appropriate, to a room where they can be isolated behind a closed door”.

However, it adds that schools should be “mindful of individual children’s needs” and it would “not be appropriate for younger children to be alone without adult supervision”.

The advice says that ideally “a window should be opened for ventilation”, and that if it is not possible to isolate the pupil they should be moved to an area which is at least two metres from other people.

If a member of staff has helped a child taken unwell they do not need to go home unless they develop symptoms themselves, but “they should wash their hands thoroughly for 20 seconds after any contact”.

Schools have also been told to “frequently clean and disinfect objects and surfaces that are touched regularly” using their “standard cleaning products”.

The guidance says that if someone is taken unwell closure of the school will not be needed “in most cases”, “but this will be a local decision based on various factors such as establishment size and risk of further spread”.

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About UKEdChat Editorial 3161 Articles
The Editorial Account of UKEdChat, managed by editor-in-chief Colin Hill, with support from Martin Burrett from the UKEd Magazine. Pedagogy, Resources, Community.

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