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Gained and lost time as the end of the year approaches!

11 July 2023

Are you beginning to get that ‘End of Year’ feeling? More than 10,000 of you have been tapping this week, expressing your thoughts on this very challenging academic year. Let’s put your word-finding skills to the test. How quickly can you locate the word you used to describe this year?

Strike days and school trips

A few weeks ago, you shared your experiences regarding school trips and sports days scheduled on strike days, and your responses garnered attention from national media outlets, including the BBC and The Times. This situation posed a challenge as teaching unions generally permit paid-for trips to proceed (as refunds are not feasible). Despite this, the NEU strikes have maintained their impact, with 32% of state school teachers participating in the July strike days (a decrease from 37% in March).

The decrease in the number of striking teachers was significantly more pronounced in schools catering to more affluent communities, characterised by low rates of free school meals. This outcome is likely due to enrichment activities often relying on parental financial contributions, which makes it more difficult to carry out such activities in economically disadvantaged communities.

We asked whether you have ever had to cancel a planned trip due to a lack of parental contributions. This issue is much more prevalent in schools with high rates of free school meals than in schools with low rates of free school meals and fee-paying schools.

What happens in gained time?

Many of you expressed curiosity about what happens nowadays when teachers’ classes are engaged in examinations. In secondary schools, approximately 80% of teachers have some examination classes, with about half of them “gaining” between 4 and 8 hours of free timetable each week once their students have departed. Science teachers tend to have the most gained time, as all students are required to take science GCSEs. On the other hand, language teachers have the least gained time, as their subject is rarely mandatory at Key Stage 4 anymore.

So, how do teachers spend their gained time? A whopping 90% of them are assigned tasks by their line managers or school leadership. Typically, this involves curriculum preparation work for the upcoming year. However, half of the teachers state that they have also taught their colleagues’ lessons, while 4 out of 10 have supervised transition days, and a quarter have invigilated examinations.

Gained time might sound wonderful, especially to primary teachers who do not experience it. However, it doesn’t necessarily mean that secondary teachers accomplish everything they intended during this period. Only 16% of those with gained time reported achieving most of their goals. The reality is that there is always an abundance of tasks to tackle in the field of teaching.

Wasting time

We all have moments when we feel like we’re “wasting time” in life, but do we tend to do it more during work or leisure hours? We asked you to reflect on whether you felt you wasted time on things that held little importance to you on a specific day last week. Surprisingly, a significant 65% of respondents admitted to wasting some work time on such activities, surpassing the 54% who reported wasting leisure time on the same day.

Naturally, it’s impossible to be consistently productive every single moment, but moving forward, we aim to delve deeper into understanding how you perceive time wastage. One perspective to consider is whether tasks and activities contribute to promoting learning in schools. For instance, headteachers express that nearly half of their time is devoted to tasks that do not directly promote learning – the primary goals of the school they run!

Ups and Downs

On the rise

📈 42% of primary teachers say they have between a week and two weeks to mark and feedback after an internal assessment, up from 32% in 2019 (22% of teachers said less than a week – down from 28% in 2019)

📈 40% of teachers said students did not wear school uniform on their most recent trip, up two percentage points compared to 2019.

Heading down

📉 43% of secondary teachers said they spent time covering colleagues lessons during their gained time this year, down from 55% in 2022

📉 The most popular subject among primary teachers to teach this year was Maths, with 29% saying they have enjoyed teaching it most this year, although that is down from 36% in May 2019.

And finally…

The most read tip this week was: 6 charts explaining the state of the teaching workforce

And here are the rest for your reference: