Here at Teacher Tapp we pride ourselves at finding out what teachers are thinking and doing in a timely fashion. But sometimes even our super-fast turnaround isn’t fast enough for events. This is one of those weeks.

Even the heatwave seems like another era (and by the way, how you respond to that question about hot and cold classrooms depends on how hot it is!).

When we asked back in December, 23% of you said it was harder to teach in a freezing classroom, but in the midst of a heatwave almost no one agreed!

2. The mock solution

Before results day even happened, we had a sniff that the government was seriously worried when they announced that A Level grades achieved in a mock examination could count in an appeal. This left teachers scratching their heads – what is a mock exam? Mocks tend to be sat under rather different conditions and at different times of year, as the two charts below show. The timing of mocks is far more variable in schools serving lower-income communities, and the exam conditions of the mock also vary a little by school FSM%.

Unfortunately, the mock exam announcement left Ofqual scrabbling to come up with a self-described “valid” definition of a mock. But that’s not surprising given that even teachers have little agreement about what a mock should be.

And whilst many teachers felt that few students would have a mock grade higher than their awarded grade, those who had their CAGs significantly downgraded by the algorithm were much more likely to say that an appeal based on mock exam grades was likely to be helpful.

3. Just use the CAG…

As we are writing, we don’t know whether CAGs will be used on their own to award A level grades. It seems like a simple solution to outside commentators, but teachers know that CAGs are not just simple teacher assessments, as some have been through more stringent internal school moderation than others. Indeed, schools serving lower-income communities seem to have made more internal adjustments to their grades..

Now, sometimes the data doesn’t show what we expect. We thought that schools who went through stringent internal moderation would therefore see less external moderation, i.e. their CAGs wouldn’t have been downgraded so much. This really doesn’t seem to be the case…

4. Meanwhile, over in primary schools…

We wonder what primary teachers make of all of this?! We know that they tend to place little faith in tests anyway, since they have an opportunity to get to know their children so much better than secondary teachers.

We also know primary teachers were interested in practical arrangements for the upcoming year. Most primaries are using staggered start and end times to the day. Year 6 are most frequently among the first to arrive, with most schools tending to bundle year groups into 2 or 3 timings.

We also learnt that many schools would be closing their before and after school childcare provision for September, particularly those in schools serving more disadvantaged communities. We will try to find out whether parents are able to find alternative arrangements or will have to give up working on our new app, Parent Ping.

5. A strange holiday

The holidays really do feel like they are over, especially for secondary teachers. One of the casualties of lockdown has been teacher friends going on holiday together. In 2018 and 2019, 7% of you said you were going to do this; this year just 4% of teachers are holidaying with a teaching colleague. And overall, we hope that the 40% of you who haven’t been on holiday at all have found some fun things to do locally.

Time for tips

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