How is your anxiety this week? For classroom teachers, you’ve told us that your work-related anxiety levels are a little above the norm for term-time (15% with very high anxiety versus 13-14% in normal term-time). For headteachers who now spend their weekends moonlighting as contact tracers, anxiety remains extremely high and was particularly bad at the start of this new half-term.

Vaccinations

Despite the importance of teachers to society, your employers don’t usually offer an annual influenza vaccination. Last year, when we asked about flu shots, just 20% of you had one by November; this year the number has risen but only to 29%.

This doesn’t mean you don’t value vaccination programmes. Just 1-in-20 of you would not want to have a COVID-19 vaccination if available next year. Those aged 50 and over are most keen to be in the first tranche. Many more teachers in their 20s would rather wait to check it is safe before proceeding. This simply reflects the balance of risks. Most in their 20s perceive the risk of dying from COVID to be very low.

After lockdown

The announcement of vaccines raises the prospect that we may not be in lockdown for the rest our lives. Granted, lockdown #2 feels a lot more wet and grey than lockdown #1, but there are still one or two good things about it. Whilst 16% of you say you’ve hated everything about lockdown, everyone else acknowledges a few things they’ve appreciated and 8% of you will miss your lockdown life a great deal when it ends.

Of course, how much you’ve disliked lockdown depends on what you’ve missed! Teachers in their twenties are most likely to have disliked all of it – presumably they have missed out on more social life than the rest!

And those with children at home have a slightly more positive view of lockdown in general. For many of them, their social life had already been curtailed by childcare duties. And whilst homeschooling might have been challenging, lockdown has been an opportunity to spend more time as a family.

It’s also worth noting that teachers feel in a slightly better position financially as a result of events in 2020. Provided nobody in their household lost their job, the inability to go out and to holiday has positively affected household finances.

Learning in lockdown

We know quite a lot about how schools have generally re-organised during lockdown. But what about more nuanced questions about how teaching has changed for particular lessons and year groups? Please get in touch via the app (top right menu) or twitter if you have questions you want to ask.

First up, how are Year 8 being grouped for maths? Seems a simple question, but it tells us about ability setting!

You last told us about your maths classes back in 2018 and, not surprisingly, we’ve seen a big change to accommodate single class bubbles.

This year 22% of Year 8 students are being taught in mixed ability classes, compared to 9% in a ‘normal’ year. This is a huge challenge for maths teachers, many of whom will have taught in ability sets for their entire career so far. How are they getting on? Will this be the start of the new trend or a one-off blip?

A year ago we also asked primary teachers about how the number of science experiments they had carried out with their class over the autumn half-term. Science experiments can be complicated to run, involving children moving around the classroom to access sinks and collect resources. Not surprisingly, there has been a big fall in primary science experiments – 26% of teachers said they had carried out none, versus 16% a year earlier.

Challenges after lockdown

Even after lockdown ends, we still face the challenge of what to do about GCSE and A Level examinations for the current cohorts, who have had two academic years disrupted. One suggestion is to ensure ‘formal’ mock examination results are available to deal with special circumstances or absences for the main exam. However, which mock should be used? We asked how many you plan to take this year. Schools with high proportions of pupils on free meals are most likely to be taking more than one mock exam.

And then there is the attainment gap. National studies of what has happened to the attainment gap are starting to emerge – it doesn’t look good (though nobody actually has good comparable data yet).

Have your views changed since last July? Back then we asked what you thought has happened to the attainment gap in your school. When we asked again last week your views were exactly the same. Most thought the achievement gap would increase, but only 3-in-10 thought there would be a substantial increase in the gap.

That said, those of you who teach in the more disadvantaged schools are more pessimistic about the increase in the gap between advantaged and disadvantaged students.

Finally, here are last week’s tips!

School of Life Perfection video

What makes a good explanation when kids ask ‘why’

Sorting out silent reading

How to make schools feel social during a pandemic

Curriculum intentions in geography

Would you like to write a textbook?

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