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Pay cuts, clocks, and the crazy cost of fire alarms in schools

8 April 2019

Sometimes we at Teacher Tapp towers are wrong about what you think. We were convinced the clock change, just over a week ago, would affect those with children at home more than those without. (As parents had to deal with kids not wanting to go to bed on Sunday night!) But 4-in-10 of you found last Monday tougher as a result of clocks change, regardless of whether or not you have children.

We also asked whether you’d like to see the UK move towards having the same time all year round. Older teachers are keener to do this, and those who have children at home are more likely to want to remove clocks changes. (Maybe to avoid those Sunday night problems!)

Work for less

Last week the Guardian revealed that teachers in one school had volunteered to take a pay cut to save some teaching assistants jobs.

Would you consider doing this? The vast majority of teachers would be unlikely to follow suit.

We don’t talk too much about differences between men and women, mostly because you aren’t so different in your opinions, but this question does show up some small differences.

On the whole, female teachers are more likely to consider taking a pay cut than male teachers.

Of course, we don’t know why… this isn’t just about altruism – ability to afford to take the cut is one important consideration. Male teachers are twice as likely as female teachers to be the higher earner in their family, for example.

Talking of ability to stomach a £7k pay cut… it turns out some secondary heads who would consider doing it!

Given headteachers in England are among the highest paid in the OECD this is perhaps not surprising. It also may explain why the education secretary last year didn’t increase headteacher pay as much as for other groups of teachers.

Off-Rolling: Is it common?

One of the many problems with the current accountability system is how it incentivises schools to “lose” students who are at risk of poor exam results which will contribute a very negative progress score to the school’s performance measures.

14% of you said your school had excluded a pupil or encouraged them to leave in order to protect the school’s exam results.

As you might expect, this practice is far less common in primary schools.

Mostly it is secondary schools currently judged as RI or unsatisfactory who are most likely to be doing it.

One in five teachers who work at sponsored academies said their school had excluded to protect results, which is the highest across the state sector.

It isn’t just that these schools are outside the oversight of the local authority (who have a huge financial incentive to try to keep students in their existing school). We suspect it is more that sponsored academies are in turnaround situations where they are under enormous pressure to improve their results.

But more interesting is that PRIVATE schools frequently ask students to leave to protect their exam results.

There are no regulatory controls on it happening in this sector, and should remind us to treat headline exam results with a pinch of salt.

Removing students from class

However, a thing that only happens infrequently in private schools is removing a student from the class (usually for poor behaviour).

It is interesting that private schools rarely ever remove kids for bad behaviour, yet do seem to exclude them at high rates…

Fire alarm

It is crazy how much schools are disrupted by fire alarms.

In the past term alone, nearly 3 in 10 (28%) teachers have experienced a fire alarm set off by students. And a further 18% have had one caused by a staff error or accident!

If each disruption is only 30 minutes, that’s almost 2,500 hours/104 days of lost learning time across the school system, each term.

Also, if you’re thinking this is far more frequent in schools with lots of challenging behaviour… it’s not that straightforward! We typically see more disruption in schools located in more deprived areas – but even 26% of schools in the most affluent areas had a fire alarm go off due to students this term.

Given how disruptive these experiences are to lessons, you can see why schools often clamp down harshly on the pupils who set them off. Reducing staff errors may also be useful too, though!

Finally, we know you love them, so here are the tips for last week:

What motivates bright kids?

How to move away from assessment rubrics

The problem with pleasing parents

How to get pupils to improve their work after feedback (critique cultivation)

Dunlosky study guide (PDF)

Bill Rogers Behaviour Management Top 10

And don’t forget to tell your teaching colleagues all about Teacher Tapp!

We’ve even got a poster to put in your staffroom or staff toilet.