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How generous is your school? And how good is pupil behaviour at 11am?

11 May 2021

Oh, what a miserable spring! Endless wet play and soggy break duties are never fun. We hope you’ve had a cagoule on hand!

1. How working conditions vary in schools

When governments talk about conditions, they often focus on salaries. However, there are many different ways that working life may differ in a school. The make-up of your timetable, the number of pupils in classes, and whether you are given the tools you need to do the job.

Over the years we’ve asked what you would give to every teacher in your school if a genie could wave a wand. An extra PPA period is always the most popular answer, although it is much more so this year compared to last summer.

Last July, secondary teachers were still largely teaching at home, so they were much more motivated by technological needs, including visualisers and Chromebooks. Now, time is everything. More than half of you would grant an extra period per week to get marking, planning and prep completed.

When we asked this question, we were pleased by the number of teachers who got in touch to tell us that their school already offered loads of these things, so they didn’t need the genie! How lovely, we thought, but is that common?

Almost 1 in 3 teachers said they didn’t get any of these perks this academic year. And many were shocked to see other teachers on social media saying they’d clicked many of the boxes – particularly the visualisers, iPad and photocopying boxes.

This is why Teacher Tapp is so important: it is easy to believe your school experience is what the profession is like everywhere, but it usually isn’t. Schools are diverse. Teachers are very diverse! If you ever feel that your school isn’t quite for you, another one somewhere else may well be!

Honesty caveat: a few teachers got in touch to say they interpreted the question as being only about this academic year. Hence, they didn’t tick items received in previous years.

However, given the numbers of people receiving unlimited photocopying reflects prior questions, which were less ambiguously asked, we don’t think this affected huge numbers of respondents. But we will make sure the wording is clearer next time!

2. Which would you change: parents or pupils?

Ok, we’ve sorted some basic classroom items. But what if you could change something more systematic about teaching? What would you change?

Primary teachers went for having every parent/carer fully supportive of the school. In contrast, secondary teachers overwhelmingly voted for making every child’s behaviour good enough to ensure learning is never disrupted.

On social media, Michael Tidd, a junior school headteacher, noted that he picked parents because if they were solved, it would make a huge difference to behaviour. Whereas Mr Goater, a secondary maths teacher, said he picked the other way around because if kids had great behaviour, there’d be no need for parental involvement. An interesting example of divergent thinking in the role of parents between primary and secondary!

… or is their differing attitude down to role in school? Your results showed that headteachers were more likely to opt for parent support. In contrast, classroom teachers were more likely to pick behaviour and removing data drops/marking policies ahead of ensuring parental support. Another good reminder that our view of what should be changed in education often depends on our vantage point.

3. Hey, Gavin! We can tell you about behaviour!

Education secretary Gavin Williamson announced last week that the Department for Education would be doing a mass survey on behaviour in schools. Having a good handle of what behaviour is like on the ground in schools is excellent as it will help keep politicians honest about the scale of the problem and what direction it’s going in.

And, good news! You’ve been helping behaviour research since we started in 2017. From your answers we already know how badly NQTs struggle with behaviour, and what detention systems look like in school.

One question we were challenged to answer, concerned the amounts of minutes lost due to pupil disruption in lessons. So we asked!

Around 1 in 3 teachers said that no minutes were lost during their 11 am lessons last Thursday. However, 7% of teachers said the time was 15 minutes or more. Assuming there’s around 500,000 teachers in schools, and assuming that at any given time around 75% are teaching, it would suggest that last Thursday, around 26,000 lessons were interrupted for 15 minutes or more. And if each class had 30 kids in, that’s about 780,000 children experiencing a disrupted learning experience.

How’s that for a baseline?

Of course, the disruption wase not spread evenly. Fee-paying schools reported the least amount of disruption whereas schools in the poorest areas (Q3 and Q4) had the highest levels. Whatever you might believe about the government’s stance on behaviour policies, there’s little doubt that disrupted learning time is a social inequity issue.

We will be asking more questions about behaviour in the coming weeks, so please do keep tapping, and get colleagues to join too – the bigger the sample, the more we can learn.

If you’d like a pack of posters to display in your school, to tell people about Teacher Tapp, then please fill in the form here!

Finally, we know you love the tips, so here are last weeks…

The most highly rated post of the week was:

Quiet. If you haven’t read it please do.

Plus, the other reads from this week:

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