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Strikes, morale and mocksteds!

3 May 2023

Did you spot that we’ve relaunched our Golden Ticket competition? That’s right, for every 50 questions you answer in May, June and July you’ll receive a Golden Ticket! Each ticket is eligible for all prize draws, and there’s nothing you need to do other than continue tapping! The prize starts at £750, rising to £3,000 for the final draw in August.

You’ll need to be teaching in a school in the UK to qualify for the prize. We’ll be checking you work there by asking you send an email to us from your work email address, so if it isn’t correct then you can’t receive a prize. Terms and conditions can be found here.

Now, onto our findings…

A big week for strikes

Last Thursday and Tuesday, many teachers went on strike, and it is interesting to observe the changes in school operations as the strikes continue. In the primary sector, there is a decreasing number of schools that are either completely open or entirely closed. Nearly half of the schools are open to some students but closed to those who have a striking class teacher. Since they are on strike, primary schools rarely provide online teaching.

As the examination period begins, secondary schools are now grappling with strike action in different circumstances, and an increasing number of them are opening their doors to some students to facilitate exam preparation and sitting. Almost every secondary school allowed some students to attend classes last Thursday. For students in non-examination classes, most are attending some classes, with the majority of these being offered online teaching (presumably by the non-striking teachers).

Falling Morale

What is the current state of teacher morale? It largely depends on whether you inquire about their personal morale or the morale of their school as a whole. At present, only 17% of teachers believe that staff morale in their school is high. Nevertheless, a slightly larger percentage of teachers (25%) report that their personal morale is high.

Since 2017, we have been monitoring levels of teacher morale, which have experienced a decline. However, they are not at an all-time low; that was during the COVID pandemic in May 2020 when we faced the challenge of bringing students back to school with unvaccinated staff. That said, last week’s figures were quite similar to the lowest point.

As the chart indicates, senior leaders had higher morale before the pandemic than class teachers, typically with a differential of over 10 percentage points. But their morale has fallen furthest so that last week, the morale of senior leaders was only slightly higher than that of class teachers.

There are indications that all is not well in the teaching profession when we ask individuals to imagine themselves at 21 and choose a career path. The proportion of individuals who would choose teaching has decreased from 58% in 2018 to 49% in 2023, with law and accounting remaining the top alternative choices.

However, imagining oneself at 21 is a different experience for someone in their 50s than for someone in their 20s. The chart below indicates that, in general, older teachers are more inclined to select a different profession, whereas those who recently entered the teaching profession would still make the same choice again. This pattern remains consistent, as the decline in popularity of teaching as a career choice is evident across all age groups.

Ofsteds and ‘Mocksted’s

Due to the large number of schools that are overdue for an Ofsted inspection, it is unsurprising that “Mocksted”-style inspections are becoming more frequent. Since September, 31% of respondents have reported that their school underwent some form of unofficial external inspection, with a further 5% anticipating one in the near future.

Private schools are the only setting where practice inspections are relatively infrequent. They are equally common across state school phases and among schools with different levels of students receiving free school meals. Currently, such inspections occur more frequently in both Outstanding and RI/Inadequate schools than in good schools. This trend is reasonable since many Outstanding schools are due for their first inspection in over a decade, while the stakes for RI and inadequate schools are particularly high.

Upon analysing the data, we have observed a significant difference in the morale of teachers working in RI/inadequate schools compared to their counterparts in other schools. It is crucial to understand the root causes behind this trend, which could be attributed to several factors, such as the added pressure of school improvement and change initiatives. As we delve deeper into this issue, we hope to identify the specific factors that contribute to the decline in morale in RI/inadequate schools. Let us know via the app or social media if you have any specific questions you think we could ask about morale.

And finally…

The most read tip this week was:Passive or active meet and greets?

And here are the rest for your reference: