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Returners Week! (And other findings from the lifting of lockdown)

9 March 2021

Finally! Primary teacher tappers are back to normal – or at least back to the new normal of fixed seating plans, year group bubbles and eating lunch in classrooms.

Secondary students are also drifting back to school too. It’s great to see how excited you were about the grand return. Primary teachers were a bit more enthusiastic than secondary teachers. Intriguingly, headteachers were by far the most enthusiastic of all!

What will the new normal look like as we return? Well, the private secondary sector looks as if it’s returning to normal as quickly as possible. Over half of private teachers said their schools are looking to reintroduce extra-curricular activities where possible, and three quarters plan to continue the curriculum as normal.

State primary schools are planning a slower reintegration, with a focus on socialisation and re-establishing behaviour rules. 46% also plan to assess pupils to find out what they learned during the lockdown.

Looking back on lockdown learning

Clearly, some students had a more successful home learning experience than others. Not surprisingly, those of you who teach in fee-paying and state schools in more affluent areas feel the experience was successful for most students. Only a minority of teachers in more disadvantaged schools feel the same way.

The role of parents in home learning is an interesting one, and likely responsible for some of the difference. Primary and secondary teachers in high FSM schools shared very similar feelings about home learning. However, primary teachers in more affluent schools were far more positive than secondary teachers in more affluent schools. This may be because the parents of primary-aged children were able to take a more proactive role in supporting learning in these homes.

Of course, these are just perceptions… research is likely to continue for many years to work out exactly how much was learnt (or not) during this time. However, it makes us smile that headteachers – those least involved in delivering home learning – were the most positive about it! (We have seen this pattern many times on Teacher Tapp; heads are nearly always more positive about what’s going on in schools than the rest of their staff).

For some of you, your teaching experiences during the first and second set of school lockdowns were quite different. In the private sector, where the vast majority of you delivered large doses of live instruction during both lockdowns, your feeling about the two experiences isn’t so different. If anything, you found this lockdown a little easier – presumably because you had greater expertise.

In the state secondary sector, teachers also mainly felt this lockdown was no more or less difficult.

The significant contrast comes in state primary schools, where most teachers found teaching in this lockdown harder. About half of state primaries were delivering live instruction this time around, often whilst simultaneously interacting with key worker children sitting in the classroom. For them, the return to plain vanilla classroom teaching will be a breeze!

Would you choose to teach?

Every so often we ask you to imagine you are 21 again and find out whether you would pick teaching as your choice of profession from a short list of options. It is a helpful question for checking sentiment about the profession over the time.

The good news is that a majority (55%) of you would still pick to go into teaching, only marginally down from previous years. And the earlier you are in your career, the more likely you are to say yes.

Given that headteachers are always so wildly optimistic about what is going in their schools AND they’ve made a huge success of their professional choices, we wondered if they would be the most enthusiastic about choosing to teach again. But there isn’t much difference – just 57% of heads would choose teaching above other professional choices.

Looking across subjects, it is primary, English, languages, humanities and arts teachers who are most likely to say they’d pick teaching again. Maths, science and special/AP teachers would be the least enthusiastic about doing so. These are the parts of the teacher labour market with the greatest teachers shortages, so it is worrying that so many feel equivocal about their career choice.

How close are you to a book voucher?

Don’t forget that every question you answer on Teacher Tapp at the moment is edging you towards the magic 150 questions needed to receive a John Catt Book Voucher.

The first voucher will be a 50% offer one. At 300 questions you receive a £10 voucher. (And then at 450 it’s 50%, and at 600 another £10).

Keep your eye on the eligible voucher score on your headline stats homepage. And if you want to get started with picking what you’ll choose, go to the Teacher Tapp section of the John Catt bookshop now!

Finally, we know you love the daily reads, so here they are for last week!