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Year 11 Leaving, Rekenreks, and How Consistent Is YOUR Behaviour Management?!

25 May 2021

1. Counting down the days of school…

We haven’t reached the end of the school year yet, but for those of you in secondary schools, it seems that for most of you, your Year 11 and 13s will soon be gone. In fee-paying schools, many are remaining on-site until the school closes – though private schools tend to finish much earlier than state schools. (Some are finished by the end of the first week in July).

In the state schools serving affluent communities, the typical plan is to let Year 11/13 go at the end of May. However, state schools serving more deprived communities seem to be doing something different, with more pupils staying in throughout June. That said, a surprising number of you in the less affluent areas don’t yet know what your school arrangements will be!

2. Abacus or extended hours?

How should we help children who missed out during the pandemic? This week the DfE told us they are buying 360,000 rekenrek-style abacuses to help fix primary maths. Unfortunately, not many of you are impressed by this idea – with KS2 teachers the most scathing.

Let’s hope the government also buy some training courses because only 3-in-20 primary teachers say they know how to use one! (Turns out a good chunk of secondary maths teachers don’t know either.)

More radical than the introduction of a few abacuses, rumours are swirling that the government is considering extending the school day. Of course, this doesn’t mean that teachers will work longer hours but does raise the prospect of whether parents genuinely want their child to be at school for longer.

Whilst parent surveys suggest they are sceptical; you think that most primary-aged parents would want more extra-curricular opportunities at your school. This suggests they might be happy for their children to stay a little later, at least for football rather than maths. What the answers don’t reveal is whether the extra hours should be optional or mandatory. That’s one to keep an eye on in future questions.

3. Are you consistent in behaviour management?

Most of you say you run a pretty tight ship when it comes to behaviour at school. You say you make no exceptions for inappropriate behaviour, and some of you (particularly secondary classroom teachers) believe in ‘no excuses’ approaches to behaviour.

But do you practise what you preach? A few days before you answered these questions, we asked if you had done anything that day that deviated from your school’s behaviour policy – one-third of you said you did!

You might assume that those who flex from the school behaviour policy are not authoritarian in their views on behaviour. However, 21% of you who strongly agreed that you make no exceptions for inappropriate behaviour chose to deviate from your school behaviour policy just two days earlier. We’d love to know more about what you did and why?

Some of the reasons why teachers said they didn’t enforce a rule which should have led to a detention included wanting to avoid a conflict (14%), being too busy to run the detention (11%) or feeling that the student was generally a good student (9%). Where schools are struggling to get teachers to implement behaviour policies, it may be worth considering to what extent staff feel equipped, mentally and practically, to deal with the consequences of the policy. If it’s too time-consuming or would lead to escalating conflict, it may be that at least some teachers won’t wish to enforce it.

4. Who is the strictest of them all?

Over the years, as various ministers have talked about behaviour in schools, they’ve sometimes talked as if private schools are the pinnacle of strictness whereas schools in disadvantaged communities are a rule-free zone.

The data suggests otherwise.

If a teacher was asked to write down their schools’ behaviour policy, from memory, on a blank piece, the ones with the highest confidence in their retrieval abilities are actually teachers in the most deprived communities. 12% of primary teachers and 22% of secondary teachers in the most deprived areas reckoned they could accurately recall the whole thing, compared to 0% of private primary teachers and around 2% of private secondary teachers. Indeed, almost half of the private secondary teachers felt their recall would be sketchy or that the school didn’t even have a behaviour policy.

5. Home time!

Finally, one enduring effect of the pandemic is that you are all getting home MUCH earlier. Last Friday, the majority of you were already home by 5:30pm. Of course, for some of you, this was not good news – restrictions mean that it is still harder to socialise with friends and colleagues freely. But there are far fewer after-school clubs, meetings and events taking place, so late nights at school aren’t (currently) a common feature of teacher life.

How many hours you spent on TAGs this weekend is a different matter. More on that next week. 😬

Finally, we know you love the tips, so here are last week’s…

Your most highest-rated tip last week was Nothing works everywhere.

And here are the others: