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All eyes on March 8th - findings on the return date, catch-up, voice notes and more!

23 February 2021

1. Beware the eight of March…

The 8th of March is inked in as the full return date for all schools, though the reality of the new testing regime in secondary schools means it may be some time before Year 7 upwards are all back in the classroom.

When we asked on Sunday before the announcement, there was still a great deal of concern that it would be at least somewhat unsafe to fully return in two weeks. Ultimately, with the best will in the world, packing children into classrooms does increase transmission – so the fact 64% of you felt it was unsafe is not entirely surprising.

Secondary teachers were more concerned than those in primary schools – which may be why the government has moved to bring in two extra safety measures: testing and face masks.

The last time we asked about facemasks, back at the start of January, the vast majority of teachers felt the benefits of wearing them in school outweighed the risks, which may be why this change has now been made.

Nerves and concerns are also lower this time about a full return than last spring when some year groups in primary and secondary were confirmed as heading back to school in June. Having now done an autumn term of pandemic school, many fewer of you are scared of face-to-face teaching, but there is still a lot of nervousness.

What does this mean for your overall feelings about work at the moment? By and large, you’re mainly satisfied, with senior leaders and headteachers again taking the lead in feeling the most satisfied. Back in the normal times, this was the usual pattern, so it’s somewhat comforting to see it coming back!

One reason for the difference might be that headteachers feel much more trusted with their job – with more than half saying they definitely feel that people trust them. AND heads are also the most satisfied with the level of responsibility they are given at work, even amid the pandemic madness!

2. But what about your HAIR?!

One of the tasks that teachers normally do in the long summer period away from school is getting their hair cut! Unfortunately, hairdressers will still be closed before you are required to get back to school. What does this mean for the state of your locks by March the 8th?

11% of women and 8% of men said their barnets are now at emergency status, with a further 29% and 26% behind in the ‘serious’ range. On the upside, if your hair is getting worse, just think how the pupils will be faring too! Bowl hair cut, anyone?

3. Send them a voice note!

One of the early trends you flagged last year was a change in homework marking during the lockdown era. Several teachers mentioned a shift to voice notes as a more convenient, speedy, and personal way to give feedback. But how common is it?

Among certain teachers – particularly those in modern foreign languages, it has become very popular, with 44% having tried it and wanting to stick with it in future, and 36% wanting to try. Getting students to listen to language is really difficult, so having notes in the target vocabulary is likely to be a great motivator!

Maths teachers are the least convinced, perhaps because many of them already have online platforms that do a good automatic marking job. We were surprised that English teachers also seem a little reluctant. Our past analysis showed that English teachers have huge marking loads, as they often write very long detailed responses. Do they actually like the act of writing it out by hand?! (Or is it the time reading pupil work that’s the time killer?)

4. Catch up before we go-go…

How will we make up for the time children have lost in school at various points over the past year? One idea was that children should repeat the school year. It was not, however, your idea – with the majority of you thinking it was not a good idea for any child. However, classroom teachers were more persuaded, with 36% feeling that it was a good idea for some children, perhaps.

An alternative mooted idea is that children attend additional hours each day at school. There’s no suggestion it would be mandatory for teachers, but if there was cash to cover the extra time, would teachers be willing to run extra activities? Yes! Although 52% of teachers over 50 would rather not, a large majority (73%) of those in their 20s would take the money.

Sports and arts clubs were popular, but 18% of teachers in their 20s said they’d be happy to do small group tutoring. Even the more reluctant over-50s would take part in small tutoring, with 14% saying they would do it, if paid, after school.

Finally, we know you really like the daily tips, so here are the ones for last week