Skip to content.

Try it for yourself:

Download the app now

On your computer? Scan with your phone camera to get the app!

Black History Month, values, PM, and dodging inflation

8 November 2022

First, a quick reminder about Golden Tickets: your chance to win in a monthly draw, with a top prize of £3000. Every 50 Teacher Tapp questions you answer, you get a Golden Ticket. The more Golden Tickets, the better your chances! Make sure your school details are up-to-date to be eligible (go to Settings, User Profile). Terms and conditions here. And now to our findings…

1. The rise and rise of Black History Month

Black History Month isn’t a new thing: it’s been celebrated in the USA since the 1970s, and in the UK since 1987. But over the last few years, it’s become a much bigger thing in schools. We first asked about it in 2018: that year, 36% of schools did something to mark it. In four years, the proportion of schools marking Black History Month has doubled: it’s now 72%.

What are schools doing? Most commonly, holding assemblies. This year, over half of schools held a special assembly (53%): this has doubled since 2018 too, from 25%. But the proportion of schools doing other things has also leapt:

  • 3x as many schools focused on Black History Month in tutor time or PSHE (2018 – 15%; 2022 – 45%)
  • Almost 3x as many schools included it in lesson plans (2018 – 12%; 2022 – 33%)
  • Almost 2x as many schools held a specific event (2018 – 7%; 2022 – 13%)

We wondered how the picture varied across the country. We checked, and found substantial regional differences. We weren’t surprised to see London come out on top: 75% of London schools held an assembly, 32% a specific event, and 9% participated in a community event. Just 11% didn’t mark Black History Month at all. In the South West, by contrast, half of schools held an assembly, and a third didn’t mark it at all, figures roughly matched in the North West and Yorkshire and Humberside. We’ll be interested to see how this changes!

2. Performance management: is it any use?

At Teacher Tapp Towers, we have an old and trusty friend: the gap between leaders’ and teachers’ perceptions. This week, we asked about performance management, and we were pleased to see our old friend reappear. Just six percent of classroom teachers and middle leaders value their school’s performance management procedures a lot. Conversely 37% of classroom teachers (and 39% of middle leaders) told us they didn’t value performance management at all.

Heads were much more enthusiastic: a quarter told us they valued performance management a lot – and only 13% said they didn’t value it at all.

This left us scratching our heads about several questions:

  • If 32% of heads aren’t keen on their performance management procedures (responding ‘No’ or ‘Yes, a little’), why don’t they change them? Are they all stuck with trust or local authority policies?
  • If four in ten middle leaders think performance management has no value, have they told their line managers?
  • What happens when you get promoted that helps you see performance management differently?

Answers, as ever, on a postcard, to Teacher Tapp Towers, @teachertapp.

3. Values: can you remember them? Do they affect you?

This week we asked about values and vision statements. First, we asked if you could remember your school’s statements: 71% of you said yes (either exactly, or approximately). What about everyone else? Well, 17% of you had a vague idea, 10% no idea, and 2% said your school didn’t have one.

Does the type of school you teach in matter? Perhaps surprisingly, it didn’t seem to: 74% of teachers teaching in schools with the lowest proportion of students receiving Free School Meal could remember the statement – as could 73% of teachers in schools serving the highest proportion of students receiving Free School Meals. The exception? Private schools. Just 60% of teachers in private schools said they could remember their school’s vision and values. We hope to see rapid action from the Independent Schools Inspectorate.

Reassuringly though, for all the inequities in the world, at least one thing unites schools serving the richest and the poorest students. You are equally sceptical that students know the school’s vision. In private schools, 44% of teachers thought a randomly-chosen student wouldn’t be able to tell you the school’s vision; as did 45% of teachers in schools serving the highest proportion of students receiving Free School Meals.

But does the school’s vision and values matter? We regularly ask how happy you feel about life at school (as a benchmark for our School Surveys). So we wondered, is there a connection between how happy you are, and how well the school’s values align with yours?

Take a guess.

Teachers who feel their school’s values align with their own are very likely to be happy at school (65% of teachers who strongly agreed their values aligned rated their current contentment at a 5+ out of 7). Teachers whose school’s values clashed with their own were much more likely to be unhappy (only 31% of those who strongly disagreed were currently at a 5+). We’re interested about what’s keeping teachers in schools where the values don’t match their own. Watch this space for further questions.

4. What’s inflation proof? Photocopying!

Last week, we tackled the miserable topic of inflation and school funding. We found 77% of heads expected to run a deficit this year – and 82% of teachers felt they were personally facing financial pressures. The only source of optimism (?) for schools: half of classroom teachers felt the senior leadership team could be – streamlined – without ill effects.

So we were pleased to find one area where inflation has kept its ugly head down: photocopying. The proportion of teachers who don’t have to ‘pay’ has barely changed (that is, through a code, fingerprint, departmental tally, or using Pogs as tokens). It’s actually up 2 percentage points since 2020! Meanwhile, 13% of you are still ‘paying’ just a penny a page. The proportion of teachers who aren’t allowed to photocopy (something we’ve never understood), had also dipped very slightly, below the 1% last time we asked. Just don’t tell the spare member of the senior leadership team, or a photocopying audit will surely follow.

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

The most-clicked-upon tip was a study on who becomes a teacher – particular kudos to those of you who read all twenty pages!

The remaining tips were: