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Academic Year 2021-22 is GO! How are you feeling about it?

1 September 2021

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Welcome back to a new academic year! We were so excited yesterday that some of our notifications didn’t send on the app 😢 Most people got them (phew) but if you missed out, we apologise. Sorry!

For those who missed questions yesterday you will get a lifeline, so please do answer the missed ones from yesterday. Also, if you lost your streak in the past few days, send us a message with “#SMS” in via the Contact Us menu.  We will then go back and save your streak. Whew!

Ok, on to today’s findings…

1. Back to school… back to Covid?

So begins another academic year. Can you smell the fresh anticipation? Or is more a hum of uncertainty over disruption? Half of you said you’re looking forward to returning to school after the summer break – which is equal to September 2019. (Ah, do you remember those sweet pre-pandemicky times?) It’s a big reduction from last year, when everyone practically skipped back after the first lockdowns. But it’s probably good that everyone is a touch more realistic this year – will help avoid too much disappointment 😬

However, the elephant in the room hasn’t left yet. 90% of you said are at least a little bit worried that either you or your students will catch Covid when returning to school. The North West is the most worried region, with 13% very worried, compared with 9% of teachers in London.

One reason for the worries might be that 90% of you rated the current Covid guidance as Poor or Terrible. Headteachers were marginally more positive, with 16% of heads saying that the upcoming term’s Covid guidance is Good. Note: no headteachers in our sample said it has been Excellent.

Double-testing is back for secondary schools, who need to ensure students are twice-swabbed to mitigate Covid spread. The government said schools could delay the start of term to help with this, and 40% of schools appear to have taken up this offer, with 10% delaying lessons by three days or more, and a further 30% by just one or two days.

Education unions have been highlighting the importance of well-ventilated classrooms to slow the spread of Covid. But how ventilated are your classrooms? More than half of you felt the area you teach in is fairly breezy, but there are noticeable differences by subject.

While Science and Arts teachers are more likely to have well-ventilated classrooms, Maths and English teachers were the least likely to do so – a particular issue when all students are required to do these subjects several times a week!

Don’t fear, though, because there’s a shipment of portable carbon dioxide monitors on their way! 300,000 monitors (equating to approximately 10 per school) will be sent to schools this autumn, according to the Department for Education. Although they also promised laptops last year and look at how that turned out.

Even if they do turn up, 90% of you aren’t reassured by this. Carbon dioxide monitors are all well and good, but they highlight a problem, rather than solving it!

2. Educational Research

LOTS of you say you are actively engaging with education research – which isn’t entirely surprising seeing as you love Teacher Tapp and we are aaaalllll about the research.

BUT more than half of you say that it’s difficult to apply the research you read about to the reality of classroom practice. Maths teachers were the most likely to say it was difficult to implement (54%). On the other hand, English teachers seemed to find it a little easier.

Nonetheless, teachers still believe it is worthwhile for all teachers to engage with research. Heads were most likely to agree with this statement, with only 8% disagreeing.

3. Teacher Tapp England vs. Teacher Tapp NL

How common are neuromyths? (Aka, fake news about the brain?)

This week we asked some questions to find out, inspired by the research done for this article (also Sunday’s tip).

The research article looked as the prevalence of these misconceptions among teachers, comparing the UK and the Netherlands. Well, would you believe it, Teacher Tapp is in both England and the Netherlands! So could we perform our own research like this using the Teacher Tapp samples?

The first set of statements we asked about were about brain functions. Most teachers in both countries knew that mental rehearsal can change the shape of the brain and that the brain can take up other brain functions if parts are damaged. However, over 50% of respondents in both England and the Netherlands thought we only use 10% of our brain, and that’s not true!

The other statement that was true is that boys have bigger brains than girls. 31% of English Tappers thought this was true, compared with 39% of Dutch Tappers. Overall, 32% of responders from our Netherlands panel chose all three correct answers, compared to 26% from England. Sorry folks, we are the losers!

The second set of statements was about how lifestyle affects learning. This proved more difficult than the first. More than 3-in-4 teachers correctly identified that exercise and skipping breakfast can affect the brain. However, the next most popular answer was thinking that children are less attentive, with over 55% of teacher from both panels saying this, but this isn’t true!

The truth is that regularly drinking caffeinated drinks can reduce alertness (to the dismay of many here at Teacher Tapp Towers), 35% of English Tappers correctly said that this was true. In total, 20% of responders from our Netherlands panel chose all three correct answers, compared to 14% from England. Lost again!

4. And finally…

The Teacher Tapp genie was back this week giving you money to hire a new member of staff at school.

40% of you wanted be a ‘floating’ teacher to cover when needed (including PPA). 25% wanted a specialist SEND teacher to help support classes. These two were popular across all seniorities, but heads in particular were more keen on a parent-link worker and were less interested in teaching assistants. Could it be because the workload of dealing with parents more commonly falls to heads?!

Finally, finally … we know you love the daily read, so here are the ones from last week

The most read tip this week was: Making your INSET day about a scandal 😱

And here are the rest for your reference: