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What Teachers Tapped This Week #13 – 11th December

11 December 2017

This week we’ve had around 1,370 responses almost every day as the Teacher Tapp fanbase seems to be consolidating and sticking with us – thank you!

For those of you are who are new, welcome to our weekly results updates! This is where we reveal the things you’ve helped us learn this week and give you nuggets for discussion at your team meetings.

Also, we sometimes include gifs, because …

Hey Arnold Nicksplat GIF - Find & Share on GIPHY

Right! Onto this week’s findings…

1. Workload really is driving teachers to think about leaving, but there’s a twist…

Lots of teachers tell surveys that they are thinking about leaving the profession, but the surveys don’t often ask why.

So we asked!

Workload is by far the highest issue at 31%, only followed by leadership and management at 15%.

This is unusual. For many years, the quality of leadership was far-and-away the most likely cause of people saying they wanted to leave.

So what is driving this overwhelming workload? Helpfully, we’ve already looked at a few aspects. We know teachers are spending hours and hours marking exercise books. Plus they arrive at work early and are marking until late in the evening.

This week we also discovered that 60% of teachers are expected to be ‘on duty’ at least twice a week during non-lesson periods. A substantial proportion – 22% – said they do four or more duties. If you consider these are done during ‘down periods’ then no wonder teachers feel overwhelmed.

PLUS, a whopping 45% of teachers reported having an after-school meeting or activity for THREE or more days this week.

If you think about marking and planning expectations on top of these additional meetings, you can see why teachers start to feel the expectations on them are too high. (And we know that when they feel this way, they report getting sick more often).

But, we wondered, do the reasons for wanting to leave differ as people move on in their career?

One of the problems of teacher retention data is that it can treat everyone as if they are a homogeneous lump. Yet the things pushing a 20-year classroom veteran out the door are unlikely to be the same as those causing a 22-year-old NQT to jump. Using data already gathered on the length of people’s careers we looked to see if what makes people consider leaving differed depending on how long they served in the classroom.

And, again, we spotted a new pattern!

This is a really interesting graph so it’s worth spending some time pondering. (Better yet, share it with you department, SLT or governors, and muse what it means for your own practices).

The most pertinent finding is that workload is highest for teachers working 5-10 years in the profession.

Or, at least, they are the ones who say their workload is making them want to leave. This is contrary to expectation, as much of the union-led debate has said it is older workers most struggling with workload due to caring responsibilities for children and older parents.

[NB: We haven’t looked at age. It is possible lots of people in the 5-10 bracket came into the profession later, and therefore are older, but this is unlikely].

Second noticeable thing: people in the job for more than 20 years are most likely to want a different job.

The final three answers were ‘pull’ rather than ‘push’ factors. That is, they show how another career is ‘pulling’ people away from teaching, rather than inherent characteristics of teaching ‘pushing’ people away.

Teachers who have been in the profession for more than 20 years are much more likely to have said other jobs were attracting them away. Of course, they might also have said workload is too high, but it’s interesting they are so over-represented in these answers.

Contrary to the belief that young teachers are the ones tempted away into other professions, it may be that the accumulated skills of older teachers mean they are more able to move and therefore are more attracted to other roles.

If we want to stop older teachers leaving then, it may be less about workload and more about making their current job more enticing and interesting.

(Also, note how little consideration is given to ‘pay’ by all groups)

2. The life of a lonely lesson-planner

One of the big ideas for reducing workload is getting teachers to share lesson plans or work together on their creation.

But how often does this already happen?

The majority of teachers (57%) are planning lessons on their own. Only 15% were given an initial plan (of which 12% adapted).

Depending on your views about teacher autonomy this may not worry you. After all, it is useful for teachers to be able to plan lessons best fitting their pupils’ needs. BUT, planning is an undeniable time-suck. If you are on a full 90% timetable, your PPA time-allocation gives around 6 minutes for lesson-planning and marking per lesson taught. There’s no way teachers can plan lessons on their own for every single lesson and meet all the other requirements (see above).

Can textbooks help the lesson-planning cause? Maybe…

One of schools minister Nick Gibb’s favourite ideas is that textbooks could help reduce workload by helping people in their planning and teaching. So, are teachers taking his advice?

Most of the time, teachers are not using textbooks in their planning or in their classroom teaching.

However, we do see textbooks used in classrooms around 40% of the time when people plan their lessons alone, a rate which is somewhat higher than might be expected if you listen to Nick Gibb’s speeches.

Does the subject you teach affect your textbook use?

So why are the government so convinced no-one is using textbooks? (Or, at least, not enough of us?)

Could it be that they are mostly visiting the wrong classrooms?

For example, MFL teachers use textbooks at around 12 times the rate that English teachers do.

Or, another weird one:

A history teacher is much more likely to use a textbook 62%) compared to a maths teacher (42%) or even a science teacher (49%).

It would be easy at this point to draw a glib point noting that historians leave the profession less often than maths or science, and that it’s the textbooks wot won them over. But MFL teachers also have pretty bad retention levels, so things aren’t that clear.

Given what we know about the marking load of English and maths teachers, however, this should give both subjects a pause for thought on workload.

3. Behaviour problems in your classroom? Just hang in there for 10 years or so…

One of the worst feelings as a new teacher is when you go and visit your nightmare class with a teacher in another subject and they are behaving perfectly. ? ‘Why meeeee?’ you think, as you wonder if it means you have something wrong you that means you can never become a great teacher.

Well newbies, we got good news!

As part of our ongoing quest to investigate behaviour problems we asked teachers about the level of disruption in their last lesson. The results were pretty positive, with only 33% saying yes. (This is slightly lower than last time we asked).

But here’s the interesting/good news, the longer you hang on in teaching, the less disrupted your lessons become.

But the fact that 63% of trainee teachers, and 52% of teachers in their first two years, had behaviour disruptions in their last lesson is a problem.

This suggests that around half the time new teachers are battling against behaviour. That’s a HUGE waste of learning time. One of the reasons schools like Michaela Community School designed strict behaviour policies was to get around this problem. They felt it unfair that a teacher who has spent many years in school can command great behaviour while new teachers struggle. Even if you are not a fan of their actual policies, (see more on that here), it’s worth thinking about whether this pattern is true in your own school and what could be done to reduce it.

4. Why Laura’s headteacher, Mr Blacow, was correct about crisp packets

When she was at school, Laura’s headteacher was renowned for picking crisp packets off the floor. He was constantly concerned that litter was a sign the school was on the decline. Later, when he left, the litter got worse. As did the school’s Ofsted grade.

But was he correct? Is litter a tell-tale sign of quality in a school?

If you look at the green on the right-hand side, you can see the number of people who say litter is not a problem goes up with the rating of the school. Correlation or causation? We know what Mr Blacow would say!

5. The conference price is right (at about thirty quid)

When schools squeezed access to weekday training events for teachers due to tightened budgets, it coincided with a growth in low-cost weekend conferences for teachers such as ResearchEd and NorthernRocks.

But weekend conferences are not perfect. As Karen Wespieser of NFER recently pointed out, it adds to the overwhelming nature of the job if people feel they have to attend events in their free time as well as doing all that marking, planning, and so on!

Teacher Tapp panellists were divided on the issue. 14%  said they would never attend a conference on a weekend, while 19% said they would but they wouldn’t pay for it.

Across the 65% of teachers who would attend a weekend conference and pay for it out of their own pocket, the maximum they would consider paying varied from £10 (7% of panellists) to £150 (clicked by 2% of panellists).

The most popular answer was £30, with both sides of that price point also popular.

Is this a testament to teachers’ love of the profession or a slightly sinister form of competitiveness? In either case, £30 seems to be the conference sweet spot.

6. As ever, we know you love the tips. Thanks for all your tweets and sharing. Here’s the links for this week’s selection:

Ritual of teaching
Feedback to move students on
Getting your mind to read
A curriculum for remembering
Baseline tests – a hard sell

7. Finally, if you would like to suggest a question GO HERE!

Our survey gizmo is easy to fill in and you might feature in a Teacher Tapp question soon.

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And that’s it for the week!

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