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A Difficult Week: What you've told us about how Coronavirus is changing school life

16 March 2020

Back in 2017, we started Teacher Tapp to find out what’s normal in teaching. What typically happens each day with the marking books, asking questions, dealing with behaviour. The current situation is not normal. Many overseas teachers have been supporting home learning for some time, and it seems inevitable that many or all UK students will be learning at home before long. On top of this we have the psychological impact of businesses and services closing, while England’s schools are being asked to carry on regardless (for now, at least).

How is the COVID-19 virus affecting England’s teachers? We wanted to know more, and help you learn from what others are doing, but we are also conscious that some of you might not want daily Teacher Tapp interactions reminding you what the world is going through. So, yesterday we asked how we should proceed.

As it stands, most of you wanted a mix of questions and only 21% want us to focus entirely on how schools are coping. Headteachers are most keen to focus on COVID (38%) as were teachers in London. [Heads may find this useful from Robin Hood Multi Academy Trust (primary) who have shared all their planning documents].

Lots of education organisations look to Teacher Tapp to see what teachers want and need – especially because they want to help schools. We asked what would be most helpful for you right now.

Overwhelmingly, teachers want education organisations to provide free access to distance learning materials and online platforms. It is incredibly expensive to suddenly patch together a network that enables mass video calling, uploads of homework and so on.

Many schools are already sharing resources and we will be highlighting many of these in our tips over the next week or so. One that we noticed mentioned by @jodieworld on Twitter is TTS’s KS1/2 FREE downloadable learning packs.

How is daily school life changing?

What is actually happening IN school?

A big knock-on consequence is that teachers are increasingly covering the lessons of staff who are off ill or self-isolating. More than 1-in-5 teachers had to cover a lesson last week and in 6% of classes, the number of pupils has risen to cope with absences too.

Resource creation is also taking time with 41% of teachers writing materials to support remote learning last week and 24% of you signing up to use new software. Almost 1-in-5 also received training in how to support remote learning. A surprising long-term benefit to this situation is that teachers are going to end up much more upskilled in remote learning!

At the moment the absences seem to have a stronger hold in some regions than others with the East Midlands and North East least affected.

Trips are being cancelled

As of 3.30pm last Thursday only around 19% of state primary schools had cancelled trips and 43% of secondary schools. In private schools it was much higher. HOWEVER this was an hour before the ban on travelling abroad. That, plus so many closures of public spaces, (eg many theatres) this will likely have increased. We will ask again to track the changes.

What about parent’s evening?

Last week, many schools had parent’s evenings and more are due to do so this week. What social distancing measures were schools using?

Private schools were much more likely to use ALL forms of social distancing rules. Primary schools were the least likely to bring in a no handshake rule (only 12% did this) and only 4% of secondary schools required teachers to wash or sanitise their hands – hopefully because they thought it went without saying, though it’s always good to have reminders.

The data was collected last week, and many schools have started to change in reaction, so this is likely to have changed.