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Should we keep the phonics check? And which subjects won at advanced info?!

15 February 2022

To the 51% of you that are on half-term, you’ve made it: enjoy! Have a restful week and recharge ahead of the next half-term. To the remainder – you’re so close, you can do it! 💪

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1. What is all this about phonics?

Last month, research from University College London decried the teaching of phonics in schools – saying it isn’t working.

Since its introduction, the phonics check has always been a contested and controversial topic.

But 21% of primary teachers say that it encourages the teaching of the important things, and 38% say they’d teach it anyway!

On the other hand, 25% of primary classroom teachers believe that teaching phonics does neglect other areas of the curriculum.

So, as we say: contested.

All things considered, over half of KS1 teachers think that the phonics check should be scrapped. A further 25% of KS1 teachers want at least significant changes to the check.

KS2 teachers were more conflicted: just a third want to see it gone. Why the difference?

Beyond phonics – what are primary teachers most worried about for their class due to pandemic disruption?

One year ago, 81% of primary teachers were most worried about the loss of social experiences.

Now, a year later, it’s down to 68%. And academic learning loss has increasingly crept into minds, with a third of primary teachers now more worried about this for their class.

2. Hello advanced information, we’ve been waiting for you…

Last week, exam boards released their advanced information ahead of this summer’s exams.

Right on cue, we asked how satisfied you were about the details you received. Even with the information released only a few hours earlier that day, already 75% of you had seen it when you answered the questions – speedy reading!

Maths teachers sit top of the satisfaction tree – with 47% satisfied with their advanced information.

Languages teachers were the most dissatisfied: a whopping 55% were very dissatisfied with their advanced information with a further 19% simply being dissatisfied. Language teachers – what about this information left you wanting more? (Usual tweets to @TeacherTapp or messages via contact us in the app are most welcome).

3. Your questions for Tappers!

Many of the questions we ask on Teacher Tapp are suggested by you. Your questions are what makes Teacher Tapp great because they are often focused on improving life in schools. This week, some, in particular, caught our eye 👀

One tapper wanted to know what made planning lessons difficult for you. And primary and secondary teachers had some very different views.

Across both phases, a lack of time was the biggest problem. (When PPA adds up to about 6 minutes per lesson you can see why).

However, while many secondary schools use centralised resources, primary teachers do not appear to have such luxury, with 46% of primary teachers saying they need to plan a lot from scratch and 30% saying they don’t have access to good existing plans. This is compared to 29% and 16% of secondary teachers respectively.

With teachers well-known for working long hours, another tapper wanted to know why teachers were working so much!

Almost 90% of teachers simply said that they needed to do so, to get all their work done – a reflection of the high workload placed upon teachers.

Headteachers reported the same situation, although 25% also reported choosing to because they enjoyed work.

One-in-five classroom teachers reported feeling pressure from their manager or the senior leadership team to work so long – despite only 3% being told they had to.

Are there any ways that schools are helping teachers to reduce this psychological workload of feeling that if they don’t work lots of hours that they will be letting their students down?

4. Subject Associations

Slightly more of you say you are in subject associations than in the past!

When we last asked this question in the pre-pandemic era, 28% of you said you belonged to an association – two years later this is now 32%. Has the pandemic caused teachers to seek out people other than those in their department to further their knowledge of the subject?

Subject associations are especially popular among Humanities teachers, 50% of who say they belong to one – far more than any other subject! They’re also popular among Arts teachers (36%) and Science teachers (32%). They are not popular among English teachers – with just 19% of English teachers belonging to one.

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

The most read tip from the past week was: Should there be a relationship between success and hours we work?

And here are the rest for your reference: