Remember when people used to say a week is a long time in politics? Nowadays it seems 24 hours is enough time for at least two u-turns and for schools to close!

On Sunday just gone, Teacher Tapp was merrily asking primary teachers if they know about Section 44 of the Health and Safety Act and whether they would be invoking it.

And – all those many hours ago – a major concern at the forefront of everyone’s mind was implementing things like rapid COVID testing!

Also, over the weekend, just as the government changes its mind, so did you. We’ve been asking your views on wearing masks in schools for over six months now. Teaching with masks on is really difficult, (and there’s the problem of getting kids to put theirs on), but we’ve finally reached the point where teachers are very much in favour of them being worn.

‘Alas’, as the Prime Minister likes to say, none of this matters much given that, as of 8pm last night, schools are now mostly closed. Oh well!

How was your Christmas holiday, though?

Most of you won’t have had much chance to ask colleagues how their holidays were, given all the disruption. So let us fill you in!

For many teachers, the holiday was unexpectedly changed just a few days before Christmas Day, when new parts of the country went into Tier 4. Teachers in London and parts of the South East had their Christmas plans radically changed as a result – with 41% saying they were completely ruined.

Particularly unhappy were the 1 in 4 of you who were required to either isolate or to chose to do so.

For Headteachers and other senior leaders, the Christmas break wasn’t really much of a break at all. On New Year’s eve, the majority (68%) were emailing colleagues, students and parents. And 1 in 4 was was involved in phone or video meetings with colleagues.

On. New. Year’s. Eve.

Sigh. (We are so sorry!)

Cancelling exams?

That was just the start of problems! Given all the disruoption so far this year, we asked a question about what could be done to make school-leaving exams fairer. Our Teacher Tapp panels in the Nethelands, Belgium and Ghana also asked this question so we can find out if ideas about fairness are similar in other countries too.

By far the most popular answer was that exam content should be changed according to what has been delivered in schools. Only 36% of teachers felt there should be no exams at all. BUT, this was before Christmas! And before the announcement last night that exams will be changing…

Speaking of which! The Prime Minister has said that exams for GCSEs and A levels will not take place as planned. Instead, ‘alternatives’ will be considered. One option on the table last year was to use mock exam grades. When asked over the weekend, most of you who had already marked A-level mocks this year, said you did so in a “rigidly impartial” manner by sticking to exam grade boundaries.

However, different schools do their mocks at different times, with many Teacher Tappers telling us their students were due to sit them this week 🤦.

Back to the drawing board for everyone!

Finally, we know you enjoy the daily reads, so here are last week’s!

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