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Cameras On - Cameras Off: What's happening in Lockdown 2, Week 2?

19 January 2021

How was your weekend? It is hard for most of us to seek out exciting activities that are lockdown compliant, but one thing you are doing more of than ever at the weekend is PLANNING! Woo?! 37% of you spent more than 3 hours planning over a weekend, compared to just 22% who answered similarly whilst schools were in normal session. Online learning certainly means spending a lot of time staring at screen, both to plan and to teach! 🥴

Camera on…?

We often ask exactly the same question to teachers in the Netherlands or Flanders, where we also run Teacher Tapp panels. Last week we looked at whether pupil cameras were on or off during live teaching and found big country differences.

In the Netherlands almost every teacher is conducting ‘live’ video lessons each day. In the primary sector, Netherlands teachers most typically decide whether their class has their cameras on or off. In English primary schools, around 4 in 10 teachers aren’t teaching live videos. Of those who are, the policy is mainly split between those who require cameras on, or those who allow either the teacher or the pupil to decide for themselves.

In the secondary phase, Netherlands teachers most typically reported a requirement to have cameras on during lessons. This is very different to England where it is more typical to require pupils to have cameras off.

Of course, this question doesn’t ask WHY the rules about cameras have been established. One practical issue in England is that connectivity during a lesson can be improved with cameras off and this is why some schools are requiring pupils to keep their screens dark. Indeed, when we asked, just 28% of primary teachers and 34% of secondary teachers said their internet connection was better at school than at home! Given that many primary teachers are broadcasting from school, where they are often also teaching critical worker children, this really matters!

Another issue is that children can distract each other if cameras are switched on. Or worse… you end up seeing a little more of home life than is ideal! About 1-in-10 teachers reported seeing another family member on the screen last week. We wondered whether these types of disruptions were related to Ofsted rating (as typical classroom disruptions are).

Nope! They aren’t. (However, this chart does show that live teaching is less prevalent at RI/inadequate schools.)

New lockdown, new resources

Lockdown #1 feels like it was a long time ago. Back then, the resources given to students to study at home were a little different in the state sector. Less than a quarter were live teaching or creating videos in late April, Oak had only just launched and wasn’t being widely used. This time round, live teaching is common in both the primary and secondary sector. Almost half of primary and a quarter of secondary teachers say they set an Oak lesson last week. The big fall has been in the use of BBC Bitesize and other resources – down from 50 to 32% in the primary sector and from 25 to 13% in the secondary sector.

Who is at school?

Our data on the large number of students coming to school hit the headlines in the first week of lockdown. Last week, the figures were even higher: 47% of primaries had at least 20% of students in classes (i.e. 6 per class) who are often being taught by the same teacher who is having to talk to the other 24 students by staring at a computer screen!

This time round the expansive ‘critical’ worker list includes a large number of white-collar (often public-sector) jobs, which means the schools that have the largest numbers in are the most affluent state schools.

It’s mostly working well, so far…

We should end on some very good news. 22% of said that you feel that ALL students you teach did some work last week and a further 55% say that at least three-quarters of your students did. Compared to the figures for last May, this level of engagement is very high. Now, we know that there is a long way to go… let’s see how things are going in late February. But, for now, nearly all students and teachers should feel proud of how they are coping with this strange sort of education.

Time for tips