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Clocks changing, hacking exams and catching up

30 March 2021

More vouchers! 📚

Congrats to those of you who received your first John Catt Voucher this week. Once you have answered 150 questions after 7th February, you will receive a 50% off code that you can be used for one transaction on the John Catt website. More terms and conditions here. REMEMBER: you can only use the code once BUT you can apply it to as many books as you like! 📚

Saving Daylight

As term ends and we head into the Easter holidays, Teacher Tapp is happy to declare that spring has sprung! But it turns out that some of you are not fans of the seasonal right of passage known as daylight saving time, particularly if you have children at home. BUT keen data interrogators will note that we asked our question the morning after the clocks changed and perhaps some of you were rather sleep deprived – nearly a quarter of you rose before the sun?! Maybe we’ll ask you again in a couple of months to see if grumpiness about daylight saving is in itself a seasonal effect!

The GCSEs and A levels

Last week, the Joint Council for Qualifications published its guidance for schools on grading for this summer’s GCSEs and A-levels. But schools have already had to make a series of tough decisions about how to assess exam cohorts and around a quarter of secondary school teachers say that you will not be using any tests involving exam board questions. 

But this headline hides quite a lot of detail, with some subjects – such as PE, humanities, and languages – relying on the exam board questions for at least some of their assessment materials. Overall, English teachers are most likely to have made other plans for assessing their students, perhaps because they feel they have a body of formal written material they can rely on.

Catching up?

“Catch up” is now a solid part of the Covid lexicon and overseen by a government Tsar. But what proportion of students have actually fallen behind? We’ve asked about the success of home learning in various different ways – this question from last week highlights how the issue of missed learning falls disproportionately on schools serving lower income communities.

These inequalities in missed learning create difficulties for teachers in planning what to teach. Over half of teachers in the most deprived schools feel that it is difficult to plan lessons at the moment as a result.

But before we summon the Tsar, what are your already doing to compensate for lost learning? About half of primary schools are trying to make greater use of interventions during lessons, with 1-in-5 also increasing intervention time outside lessons. Just 1-in-10 feel they have made significant changes to their curriculum or are running extra catch-up classes.

In secondary schools, about a fifth are running extra provision in the form of lunch-time or after-school classes. 13% say they have opened the school to students during the holidays.

One dilemma is that using teaching assistants to run interventions is difficult where a school to trying to maintain year-group bubbles. According to our teachers, more schools have actually REDUCED intervention time than have increased small group interventions. And whilst the highest FSM schools are more likely to have increased interventions, the differences across social demographics of school are very slight in relation to the impact of COVID on learning.

In primary schools, we asked whether teachers had adjusted their curriculum to make extra time each day to cope with missed learning in English and maths. Three-quarters of schools said that they hadn’t. Just 1-in-10 have increased time on English and maths by 30 minutes or more.

Overall, higher FSM primary schools ARE more likely to be spending increased time on English and maths at the moment.

A tech revolution?

After the COVID-storm settles, schools may never quite be the same again. Most of you say you will change the way to assess work or feedback to students as a result of lockdown. This is more true for secondary teachers, perhaps because the age of the students make electronic communication more feasible.

The majority of teachers also say they are likely to change their classroom teaching practice a little as a result of skills and techniques learnt during lockdown. Perhaps you’ve found a new piece of software that can easily be used in the classroom too. Or you’ve found new resources that worked well remotely and you’ll continue to use.

Finally, we know you love the daily reads, so here they are for last week!

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