It’s Chriiiistmas (Eve)…

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Well done to those of you who battled on to the bitter end of the week amid dark mornings, nights, Christmas lunches, nativities, presents, and over-excitement. On top of that 58% of you managed to have your gift shopping all done and wrapped up by Saturday evening. Good luck to the 7% of you still furiously rushing around to get most presents – 😬

Before we begin – A Word On Verification…

The new app update has gone through brilliantly for most of you – thanks for updating 🙂

We were overwhelmed by people signing up for verification status, which is great. For those who made it, you are now able to update your user status and see your previous day’s responses. We will also be switching on the new bonus features – such as badges and streak count – in the next few weeks.

A few people were not able to verify due to hiccups in the system. Until this is sorted we are not allowing any users to attempt verification as it just causes frustration. On 27th December we will switch the process back on. If you haven’t yet verified (which means you can’t access your settings in the menu), you will be notified in the app to do so and the process should be smoother.

Right, onto this week’s results…!

1.Christmas Fun Times

Pub quizzes. Christmas Taskmaster. Mathematical Baubles. How did you celebrate Christmas in your classroom?

A full 78% of teachers let their pupils do a fun-only activity on the last day of term.

But who is the grinchiest of all subjects?

Primary pupils have the most Christmas-loving teachers, with only 4% denying pupils a fun-only activity on the last day. Arts and PE teachers carried on with more normal sessions – though maybe these can be considered fun and out-of-the-ordinary anyway?!

Video lessons were apparently still common, with 42% of teachers saying they “know” at least one teacher who did one, although about the same number also think no one did. With video available everywhere these days, films are not the draw they once were for pupils!

Do you take part in a pantomime? Oh no, you don’t!

Staff performing in a Christmas show is not as traditional as Love Actually would have you believe. Only one in five schools does a show, and less than 10% of staff take part. 

Primary schools are less likely to have a staff pantomime (too busy rehearsing for nativity, probably), and even in senior schools the leadership teams are most likely to take part. Not entirely a surprise: Giving Year 8 a death stare while dressed as one a member of Abba is an advanced skill.

All The Trimmings Of Christmas

This year 58% of you took part in Secret Santa at school. Which is exactly the same rate as last year! 

Also, a new question for this Christmas, to reflect the growing trend of Christmas Jumpers. (If you’re interested in the history of the Xmas pullover, this is a nerdy read).

A full 69% of teachers wore a Christmas jumper at least once. Great news for the textiles industry!

Though one wonders how the 6% of teachers found out they were not allowed to wear a Christmas jumper? Did the headteacher send round a memo?

2.The Gift of Christmas

Gifts for teachers are so stressful for parents that even the Financial Times published a serious article about the phenomenon.

Looking at our panellist’s answers, not all teachers get presents. 34% didn’t receive any at all.

Look more closely, however, and you see that primary teachers get gifts at high rates and in the schools with the wealthiest intake parents are more likely to band together to buy something. 

[1 = Low Free Schools Meals Intake, and 5 = High Free Schools Meal Intake]

Teachers working in schools with the highest rates of free meals (5) were the least likely to receive gifts. 58% of secondary teachers in the poorest areas didn’t take home a Christmas Gift, compared to 40% in the wealthiest areas. 

In primary schools, 14% of teachers in the poorest areas didn’t receive anything, compared to no teachers in the richest area.

Of course, it shouldn’t matter. Teachers are paid for their job and it’s heartening that children in families of all varieties take the time and effort to create or buy gifts of appreciation. However, it highlights the different experience of teaching in different places. Primary teachers in wealthier areas are likely to get more expensive gifts, because of the parent’s higher salaries and their willingness to collaborate. At the end of a tiring term, these little bonuses can be a boost for a flagging Year 4 teacher.

On the other hand, gifts can become one-upmanship among parents, hence why one private school took the step this year of capping gift amounts! Would you do the same?

3. Morale is low: Are things getting worse?

“Teacher morale is low” and “things are getting worse” are common refrains in education. But, are they true?

Measuring sentiment over time is one of Teacher Tapp’s most powerful promises. If we can see early indications that things are getting worse, then we may be able to change them before it gets too late.

Surveying people across time requires careful planning, however. Morale on the final school day of the year is probably higher than during the third week in November when the weather is turning and summer feels a distant dream.

We therefore asked about relative morale at the end of the Christmas term last year and we have repeated at the same time this year.

Here are last year’s figures (when our graphs looked less glam):

And here is this year’s:

Relative morale has barely changed. This year has been a holding pattern for morale, rather than a boost or a bust.

What we do notice is that younger teachers are more likely to have higher morale, though this is likely because newer teachers are generally more optimistic.

Secondary teachers also seem slightly happier that primary teachers about their job this year.

Continuing a pattern that we’ve seen multiple times this term, middle leaders in both primary and secondary schools have the worst morale relative to a year ago. Middle leadership is notoriously tricky and we need more data before we can say the pressures are getting worse, but we’ve now found multiple warning flags that this group are under serious pressure.

 

4.Ten Years From Now…

Bill Gates once said that most people overestimate what they can do in one year and underestimate what they can do in ten.

When teachers are asked to imagine their ideal teaching job ten years from now, 27% said assistant or deputy head. Not headteacher or chief executive, but one rung down. Low aspirations, low belief, or something else?

Ok, that’s a cheeky way of putting things. All roles in schools have benefits and downsides. There’s nothing inherently better about being a headteacher than being a head of department or classroom teacher. Furthermore, the teaching profession needs many more assistant and deputy heads than headteachers, so the balance above is reasonably good news for career efficiency.

Looking closer, we can see a preference for assistant headship roles across middle leadership and current senior leadership teams. While 35% of current SLT would like to be a headteacher in ten years’ time, 38% would like to stay in the SLT but not become a headteacher.

Among classroom teachers we see a substantial desire for pastoral, teaching, and curriculum specialist roles. In fact, more mainscale teachers think their ideal role would be in teacher training than in headship. Yet the routes for becoming a teaching or curriculum specialist are fragmented. School in teaching alliances may offer some opportunities but such roles may only go to people in certain schools closely connected to the alliance and aren’t always advertised.

In Sum: Lots of people don’t want to be heads in the next five years, but that’s probably okay. We could, however, do with some more specialist routes for those who don’t want to go into management.

5.Do You Need A University Degree To Be A Teacher?

Many schools now pay the apprenticeship levy, a decent-sized payment to the government which can only be claimed back if you use it to train staff on apprenticeships.

A way to help schools use the money would be to allow teaching assistants, without degrees, to become teachers via an apprenticeship route. In the past, the GTP route did something similar,  but it required TAs to have a degree before starting. Given the expense of degrees now, a different route has been suggested which allows a TA to start on the course without having gone to university and instead receive a ‘degree level’ qualification by the end of the course.

Are teachers open to the idea that people with equivalent qualification should be allowed to qualify?

Um. Not really. More teachers disagreed with the approach than agreed:

Humanities and English teachers – both of which are non-shortage subjects – were the least chuffed about a non-graduate teaching route. (History is always highly over-subscribed). Creative arts and practical subject teacher were more in favour, possibly because colleagues often come via occupational routes.

Maths teachers were also much more in favour of the non-graduate approach, compared to other traditional subjects, a trend that seemed surprising give the worries over maths teachers not having maths-specific degrees. But perhaps the maths teacher shortage also means people are more realistic. Non-graduate bodies are better than no bodies at all. Also, if people have worked for a long time as a TA, they also often have substantial experience in doing maths pull-out sessions which gives good insight into maths misconceptions – a very useful knowledge set!

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6. Finally, we are doing a count-down of the top 12 most-read tips of the year, which we will do as a blog on New Year’s Day. Keep an eye out over the festive period to find out who topped the chart!

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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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