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Carrot or stick? Plus pongs, presents & parents.

5 July 2022

1. Behaviour

When it comes to applying Teachers’ Standard number seven (behaviour) are you a 🥕 or a 🎋 kind of person? Or to be more specific how likely are you to praise or sanction students?

Well, obviously this isn’t actually an either-or question. But these are two big topics that we looked at last week…

Carrots 🥕

First, when it comes to praise (🥕) you are a pretty generous bunch! Over 90% said you praised or rewarded students, with younger teachers topping the praise-o-meter (yes, we just made that term up!)

We checked for differences between primary and secondary teachers, but guess what? You’re all equally enthusiastic when it comes to praise 😁

Think about the last lesson you taught. Did you praise or reward students in some way during the lesson? By teacher age.

Sticks 🎋 (not literal, of course)

Before we delve into sanctions, let’s first look at behaviour.

To start off, it’s worth noting that for plenty of you, there were no behavioural issues that interrupted teaching and learning during your last lesson, on the day we asked.

HOWEVER, some of you were more disrupted than others. While 1 in 3 teachers in their 50s+ reported no disruption at all, only 1 in 6 teachers in their 20s could say the same 😔

Conversely, nearly 41% of the youngest teachers were interrupted for 5 minutes or more.

Think of the last lesson you taught. For how much of this lesson did behavioural issues interrupt teaching and learning? By teacher age.

And sadly, for these younger colleagues, it’s not just one or two students acting out. 52% of teachers in their 20s report multiple students misbehaving, compared to 28% of teachers aged 50+ reporting the same thing.

If you’re in the early stages of your teaching career and behaviour is proving to be a bit of a stumbling block from time to time, you’re not alone and it does get easier, we just hope that you’re being well-supported by your colleagues 🥰

What are students doing to cause all these problems?

Well, that (as you might expect) depends on whether you’re teaching in a primary or secondary school.

Amongst primary colleagues, the most frequent misdemeanours were calling out (76%), not following instructions (71%) and talking to other students without permission (61%).

By secondary, most of these bad habits have been kicked into shape by the primary teachers, only for a new set of bugbears to develop that pester secondary teachers, including arriving late (67%) and missing equipment (57%) 🙄

Think of the last lesson you taught. During the lesson, did one or more students do any of the following? By phase

So, when there is trouble, how do you address it? Do you use your school sanctions policy?

For this analysis, we’ve removed the 23% of you that said ‘there was no poor behaviour that I needed to sanction’ (nobody likes a show-off 😂)

Before Christmas, we asked whether you agreed that leaders in your school are doing enough to support behaviour management.

Comparing those responses with the use of sanctions policies reveals you are more likely to ‘go rogue’ and use your own sanctions system when you feel least supported by leaders 🤠

So far, this is as expected.

BUT we noticed…

When you feel least supported, you use the policy more often to challenge major misbehaviours. Is this because major misbehaviours are more frequent in schools where leaders aren’t supporting behaviour management? 🤔


Policies are used to challenge minor misbehaviours more by those of you who strongly agree leadership is supportive. Is this because more minor stuff is picked up when there’s a policy that you’re on board with? 🧐

2. Smells like teen spirit 👃

WE KNOW a bunch of kids can cause a bit of a whiff, but do you do anything to stop it?

While most of you (80%) open a window and around 10% of you try to hide the pong with more pleasant scents or air fresheners, there are some of you that steadfast refuse to change the aroma of learning 🤭

PE teachers and the sports hall sweat-fest tops the list with 27% doing nothing to improve the scent (to be honest, a reed infuser’s not going to make a difference!) Closely followed by art and DT teachers, 22% of whom say they prefer the smell of oil-paints (ok, we’re definitely paraphrasing there!). Amongst the more ‘traditional’ classrooms, science and maths are the stalwarts of student smell, with 19% and 18% respectively refusing to do anything to take away the lingering smell in the classroom 💨

It’s probably for the best, it’s not worth posing a risk to anyone that can be triggered by artificial scents AND you get used to the smell after a while.

Oh, and before we move off the topic of odours, we were also intrigued by this little factoid we discovered about classroom bins…

Recycling bins (of all nomenclature) are considerably more common in primary schools than secondary schools. We don’t have a theory why. Do you? ♻️

Do you have any of these recycling bins in your classroom? By phase

3. Presents 🎁

The end of the school year is a traditional time for giving (and receiving) presents. Your author’s “favourite” end-of-year gift was a box of chocolates… with the bottom tier missing 🙄 But never mind whether you’re hoping for a Chocolate Orange or a bath bomb… What are you GIVING?

First off, do you give your trainees teachers ‘end of placement’ presents? Well, it depends if you work in a primary school – where half of you ALWAYS buy trainees a gift; or secondary – where only a third of you give a present.

Do you buy trainee teachers 'end of placement' presents? by phase

What about the pupils?

We only asked primary teachers this one but were still surprised by the trend that HALF of you are buying end of year presents for pupils. The catch on this one is that female teachers seem far more likely than male teachers to do this.

Do you buy pupils end of year presents? Primary only by teacher gender

We asked a similar question of secondary teachers, and although buying presents for your classes is far less common than in primary, there is still the a gender divide 🚺/🚹

Do you buy end of year presents for your classes? Secondary only by teacher gender

So in conclusion, if you are on the hunt for a gift, befriend a female primary school teacher 🎁

4. Parents

Love them or hate them, parents are a key part of the education system. But when they get in touch, is there a rule about how quickly you have to respond to them?

First off, we spotted a bit of a primary/secondary split. Whilst almost none of you said that you had to respond within 24 hours if that meant logging on at the weekend, 32% of primary teachers had a 24-hour window during the working week, compared to 24% of secondary teachers.

Overall though, most of you told us there is no specified policy on this at your school.

How quickly are you expected to respond to parental contact? By phase

BUT WAIT, does this check out if we look at headteachers’ responses 👀

While half of class teachers say there’s no policy in this regard, only a third of heads agree 😶

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

The most read tip from the past week was: How many pupils fall below the proposed national thresholds for legal intervention due to absence?

Here are the rest of the primary reads for your reference: