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Did Omicron ruin Christmas for teachers? (this, and other findings...)

5 January 2022

Happy New Year from the Teacher Tapp team! 🥳 We hope that you managed to have some downtime over the festive period and you feel refreshed for the team ahead!

A little bit of news before we start. Over the next few months we are trialling a Random Gifting Game on Teacher Tapp. If you hit 100, 1000, 2000, 3000 (and so on) questions answered, we will send an email saying we want to send you a gift. Fill in the form, and wait for something lovely to arrive 🙂 It doesn’t rely on streaks, just questions answered, so keep tapping!

Right, what did we learn over Christmas?

Jump to section:

1. How often was Christmas ruined by Omicron?

If you’ve blocked out the end of the last term, we don’t blame you. Most teachers were exhausted, freezing, and going to work felt like trying to dodge Covid bullets so that you might still have a family Christmas (given they were banned last year).

Sadly, 4% of you had to isolate over Christmas due to a positive Covid test 😔. In step with the rest of the population, Londoners were most affected by the Omicron surge, with 9% of teachers isolating on Christmas Day. A further 9% of Londoners had tested positive at some point in the prior month but managed to avoid isolating on Christmas Day.

So Christmas wasn’t quite like previous years, but panic buying was definitely back!

Last year, you were more organised than ever buying all of your Christmas gifts. In 2020, 71% of teachers were done and dusted with buying on 22nd December. In 2019, the number was only 55%. Would the organisational skills stick?

Nope! In a reversion to the mean, just 58% of you were done by 22nd December this year, and many of you were still scrambling around getting those last few pressies!

2. Covid in the Spring Term

Barring any very last-minute announcements, it looks like pupils are going to be in school for more than ONE day this January. However, before term started, the government announced that secondary students will again be wearing masks.

Many secondary teachers called for this when asked about their favoured approach this term – with 40% also wanting a focus on improving air filtration. Only one-in-four secondary teachers wanted at least a partial return to remote learning to counter the Omicron spike, with 14% wanting all pupils to learn from home.

The government also announced that 7,000 air purifiers would be made available to schools if there’s a classroom that’s consistently registering >1500ppm on their CO2 monitors.

When asked back in December, just 4% of you said that you teach in a classroom whose CO2 monitor reads >1500ppm. With around 250,000 classrooms, then 4% is over the 7,000 but a similar ballpark.

However, there is a problem! 47% of primary teachers and a huge 73% of secondary teachers reported not having a CO2 monitor in their classroom. So, while 7,000 may be almost enough to cover all the classrooms with a high CO2 reading, we don’t know all of the classrooms that will need them.

(Note for the nerds paying extra attention: Our pre-weighted data on the app rounded the figure for readings of >1500ppm to 3%, equalling 7,500 purifiers, which is what we tweeted the original estimates from and is presumably what the Educaton Secretary, Nadhim Zahawi, says is the data corroborating the DfE decision to fund 8,000 purifiers. The data below is re-weighted, and rounds to 4% which would be 10,000 purifiers. There is, of course, a margin of error on all of this. Ultimately, it’s around the right ballpark given the readings so far but probably not enough once everyone does a reading!)

The government says it has sent out 350,000 monitors and we’ve seen a few teachers on social media saying they found a bunch in a cupboard or a corner of the staffroom as they’d been overlooked on delivery. If you don’t have one, it’s worth asking to see if some might have arrived and aren’t being used.

3. And what about exams?

At the time of writing, secondary school exams are still going ahead this year – and you mainly agree with this decision.

In total, 48% of you don’t think the government should cancel GCSE and A-levels. Looking at secondary teachers alone, this rises further to 61%.

Maths and Science teachers, as ever, are the most in favour of exams, with only 15% of these thinking they should be cancelled.

On the other hand, 62% of you are in favour of cancelling SATs this year – especially primary teachers!

In all fairness, the result isn’t entirely pandemic related. Many of you have called for the cancellation of SATs for a while. Once again, secondary maths and science teachers are least in favour of cancelling SATs, being the only subjects where less than 50% of teachers wanted SATs cancelled.

We don’t know what will happen in the next five months. However, many of you in secondary schools (73%) think students are most fairly assessed when exams are marked externally.

Primary teachers, however, are more divided. While the most popular individual answer was that external markers are most fair, it was close!

4. Living, Difference or Legacy?

The Teacher Tapp genie was back, granting you one of three wishes for 2022! Top results, total well-being or £1 million? The million pounds was the outright winner in this genie question (77%), and given it’s a life-changing sum of money it isn’t so surprising.

Furthermore, it hasn’t changed much since we first asked in 2018. Pandemic or not, some things stay the same!

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: What are poor proxies for effective teaching?

And here are the rest for your reference: