The data tells us that behaviour was not so good in schools last Friday. Could it be the blowy rainy weather? Is it the effects of a long-term? These are the pressing issues Teacher Tapp is setting out to find. (See more below)

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Before we get into this week’s results a little celebration! We have big, double-page features in both Teach Primary and Teach Secondary this month – helping share 10 findings of the Teacher Tapp project so far. Grab a copy and stick the lessons on the staffroom wall to help colleagues see the joy of data 🤓.

Right, onto the results…

1.The Diminishing Lunch Hour

A poll of 2,000 office workers last year showed the average lunch break is just 34 minutes – with many people skipping it altogether.

How does this compare for teachers and, crucially, the children we teach?

One in ten schools has less than 30 minutes for lunch, and a further 38% have less than 45 minutes. 

However, lunch is much more likely to be short in secondary schools. 

 

The majority (63%) of secondary schools have a lunch break shorter than 45 minutes. While a bigger majority of primary schools (75%) have at least 45 minutes.

Why the difference? On a practical level, it takes longer for younger children to eat their lunch! Secondary schools are also more likely to have split lunches, allowing different groups of pupils to eat at different times, to help with timetabling and space restrictions.

Behaviour is also sometimes mentioned as an issue for the shortening of lunchtimes. Given that behaviour tends to be worse in more challenging schools we looked to see if there is a difference between lunch breaks in schools with lower Ofsted grades or with more deprived intakes.

Lunch break length does seem to change depending on intake and school grading.

Free school meal intake:

Ofsted grade:

On the one hand, it makes sense to reduce the time available for misbehaviour. On the other, teachers in these schools have an intense job and are often loaded up with more paperwork and responsibilities than in others. Few performers are expected to be ‘on stage’ for up to six hours with only a short lunch break. How else might schools deal with behaviour during lunchtime? It’s worth some thought.

 

2.The Sunday Night Dreads

For 6 weeks we have been collecting data on behaviour in the final Friday lesson. Several tappers have written to us concerned the data is skewed because they always see their worst class at that time. Don’t worry! First, it won’t skew anything, because our sample is big enough that if you are having your worst class then it’s likely someone else is having their best at this exact time which balances things out. Second, the more important thing for us is consistency. We want to see how the same class, at the same time, is behaving across time. (Teachers on two-week timetables: we will deal with you once we are doing deeper analysis, but we know who you are!)

Last week behaviour seems to have been worse than at any prior point across the term. Inexperienced teachers had the highest bounce, although teachers across all groups shifted upwards. What’s interesting is that when things take a turn for the worse, they tend to affect new teachers more than the other groups. So they went from 40% of lessons disrupted last week, to 48%; whereas more experienced teachers only increased by a couple of per cent.

 

Looking at the ‘dreads’

Another theory we have is that people who leave school on a Friday feeling dejected are more likely to feel unhappy on a Sunday evening. Workers who constantly dread their upcoming week are more likely to start looking for alternative employment. Hence, this is an important metric to study.

Happily, most teachers aren’t dreading ANY lessons:

But newer teachers are dreading some lessons. Given that we lose most teachers in the first five years of the job, the substantial difference on this metric between those are in the profession for 4 or fewer years is worth paying attention to.

Teacher retention is worse in secondary schools and again we see more secondary teachers dreading lessons on a Sunday night compared to primary colleagues.

Finding ways to reduce this dread may be a key to helping keep newer teachers in the job.

3.Great (Parental) Expectations

Schools are a public service. But who is the ‘customer’? Pupils are forefront of most teachers’ minds, but parents matter too.

However, teachers are divided on the topic of parents’ expectations:

In total, 41% of teachers think parents have unrealistic expectations, whereas 33% think the expectations are reasonable. (The rest are in the middle).

Given primary teachers interact with parents more, do they feel more pressure to perform? Nope! If anything secondary teachers feel it more…

In the wealthiest area (1), teachers are more likely to say that parents have unrealistic expectations – both for primary and secondary schools. But there’s a fairly divided view across all schools.

What about pupils?

Teachers felt their pupils were much more realistic than parents!

However, there was a substantial split between primary and secondary this time:

What about management expectations?

This week we also looked at management expectations and the results of that investigation will be published exclusively on Friday in Schools Week – look out for it!

 

4.Do You Go Clubbing?

One of the visions for the mass school system, devised in the 1940s and refined in the ’60s, was of schools as places where children learned a whole range of skills and activities. Not just ‘reading, writing, and ‘rithmetic’ but also cooking, and speaking, and sewing, and dog maintenance. (Really, this was on school club schedules in the ’60s!)

But how often are teachers expected to run extra-curricular clubs?

 

We found: English teachers are the least likely to run a club, and creative arts teachers are most likely. In fact, a whopping 75% of creative arts teachers do clubs. If secondary schools keep cutting the number of arts teachers, it’s therefore likely extra-curricular clubs will take a hit.

We also asked which clubs teachers would like to run. 

English teachers are more likely to choose creative writing than any other group – but given they are less likely to do a club, this is likely an area where schools are under-capacity.

Note also how much more popular ‘knitting or crafts’ is compared to computing/coding! (And, even more counter-intuitively, primary teachers are more likely to select it than science teachers). No wonder the government is struggling to improve take-up.

 

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5. Finally, as ever, we learned that you really love our daily tips, so here are the links for last week:

Succeeding Faster in Education

Should you watch a lecture twice?

Is there an educational research consensus?

The difference between your memory and smartphone

Dealing with insomnia

The big standardised test flop

Right folks – over and out for another week…

In the meantime, keep sharing what we are doing. Here’s a powerpoint slide (with script), a PDF, and a black-and-white one-pager to help.

Remember, we need more of you before we can do the really exciting and detailed analysis!

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