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How are schools organising self-isolation? This, and other findings!

6 July 2021

1. Anxiety

For over a year now we’ve been tracking anxiety levels of teachers on Teacher Tapp.

As before, we can see that head teachers consistently report the highest levels of anxiety. Right from the first lockdown, through until now. Poor communication and last-minute changes at the start of the year caused a spike of 53% of head teachers and 30% of the rest of you reporting high levels of anxiety at that time. For heads this is a remarkably high rate. In usual times (the far left of the graph) only around 14% of heads report high levels of work-related anxiety.

This time, anxiety has grown again as TAG submissions had to be collated and submitted (note the surge in middle leader anxiety levels) and as COVID cases rose again. Happily, anxiety levels amongst classroom teachers are now back around the same level as they were before the pandemic began. But school leadership teams really need some care, support and, above all, timely guidance from the government to help reduce the stress they feel as we head towards summer.

2. Masks

In May, schools were told that pupils do not need to continue wearing masks in the classroom. Some schools have decided to keep pupils wearing masks, in some cases due to local risk levels. The trend is much more common in secondary schools, but 4% of primary schools also require some students to wear them in certain circumstances.

In the North West, 50% of schools are requiring masks at least some of the time. Separating the results out by phase, we think nearly all secondary schools in that region are requiring students to wear masks and they are 3 times as likely as other regions to require students to wear masks all the time.

3. Who’s isolating and who’s had covid?

One of the ways we’ve tracked Covid over the past year is to ask teachers about isolation behaviours on Mondays. Last autumn, we saw the numbers steadily creeping up before settling around the 5% level. That is, on any given Monday last autumn around 4-5% of teachers were usually isolating.

Last week the figures hit similar rates, but note the differences in location. Yet again the North West and Yorkshire/North East have the highest figures. This was the same throughout much of the autumn term too. (At least until the Kent variant arrived and caused bigger surges in London).

Given the North West’s higher infection rates throughout the pandemic, plus London’s run-in with the Kent variant, it’s not a surprise that more teachers said they’ve tested positive in these areas.

As in other surveys, there also does appear to be some evidence that working in a more deprived area increased the likelihood of testing positive.

Also young people report higher positive rates than those in older groups. A few factors might be at play here, including more caution among older people because of greater vulnerabilities but also earlier access to the vaccine.

4. If a child tests positive what happens next?

About twice as many primary teachers were self-isolating last Monday than secondary ones. Why was that?

Well, if a child tests positive in a primary school then their class teacher will likely be asked to self-isolate (75%). In secondary schools, the situation depends on interactions with the child – for example, how near you got to a child. The greater discretion in secondary school means more teachers have been able to say in the classroom.

When it comes to children, teachers are divided on whether the right amount of children are self-isolating. The Children’s Commissioner Dame Rachel De Souza last week said she felt too many were being kept at home. She wanted tweaks to the bubble policy.

By contrast, only around 25% of primary teachers and around 32% of secondary teachers agreed. Headteachers were the most likely think too many children were at home unnecessarily. Given De Souza was previously a head herself, this may explain her thinking!

Boris Johnson has now announced that Covid Bubbles will cease from 19th July. Around 1-in-4 (25%) teachers agreed with the date, and a further 43% agreed with bubbles stopping in September.

5. House systems 🏠

Becky’s children really hate the house system at their school because it means they have to be on a team with the same set of classmates in EVERY SINGLE PE LESSON, from the age of 5 through to 11!

But presumably there are some upsides since so many schools use house systems. We have been surprised to see the social divide in how prevalent they are. Over 9-in-10 fee-paying schools have them; three-quarters of affluent state schools have them but only around half of the state schools serving the most deprived communities use house systems.

Call out for Primary colleagues

🚀At Teacher Tapp we are really interested in the views from primary teachers and we’d love to grow the number of you who use the app. If you know a primary colleague who you think would enjoy the daily insights that give an accurate picture of how thousands of colleagues are thinking please share Teacher Tapp with them!

❓ If you’ve got any question suggestions then you can Contact Us via the menu in the app or send us a tweet @TeacherTapp.

📰 We love sharing daily reads with you all on and we’re always on the look out for ones we’ve not featured. It’s really easy if you’d like to make a suggestion to do so here.

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

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

The highest rated tip this week was: Minimising Classroom Displays

And here are the rest for your reference