“Learn the lessons that are being shown from this virus.”

― Dr. Michael J. Ryan, WHO

It is 9.30am in the staff room at Manchester grammar school (MGS) and the head of chemistry, Fay Roberts, is settled in the windowless cupboard where she now does much of her teaching. All of her year 12s have turned up online to learn about the acid-catalysed elimination of an alcohol. “They’re pretty good at getting out of bed, but they’re 17-year-old boys,” she says. “If one is missing, I get one of their friends to text them and they soon turn up.”

Like all teachers at the UK’s biggest independent boys’ school, Roberts has been offering a full timetable since the school closed on 20 March – up to 49 lessons a fortnight.

All 1,600 pupils, aged seven to 18, have been expected online for their usual six daily classes, with everything from PE to organic chemistry taught over the internet instead of in the warren of buildings that sprawl across a large chunk of Rusholme, one of the most deprived and diverse wards in central Manchester......