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What Teachers Tapped This Week #23 - 5th March 2018

5 March 2018

Did you see the snow? So much snow.

Sadly, the snow caused problems for some questions as many of you weren’t in school when asked things about detentions and how you ate your lunch. (Detentions you give out at home don’t count). Don’t worry, we’ll ask these at another point.

Right, onto what we DID find out this week! &;

1.Snow closures for you?

Stormy snow made life difficult all round this week and lots of schools closed with headline reports ranging wildly from hundreds, to thousands, to several thousand.

A benefit of Teacher Tapp is that we can keep track of these closures over time so eventually we can answer the critical question: have things got worse than they used to be?

For now, all we now is how many Teacher Tapp schools closed last week?

From the figures we collected, 67% of teachers were off on Friday due to the snow – that was the biggest day for closures.  If 67% of schools closed nationally that’s around 16,000 closing their doors.

Are some schools more at risk of a closure? We looked first at Ofsted ratings, and found outstanding schools were most likely to stay open all week and lower-rated ones least likely…

but, before we leap to conclusions, what else might cause the difference in closure rates?

Well, secondary schools were more likely to close than primary schools (by 2% each day), presumably due to children and staff coming from further away or because of larger sites that involve more travel on treacherous paths.

Secondary schools are also more likely than primary ones to have low Ofsted grades – so this probably had an effect.

Region also mattered for snow closures.  As the table below shows, schools in the North East had almost every teacher snowed out for 3 days. In the North West, even on the worst day, only 39% of teachers were at home.

Given the higher concentration of lower-graded secondary schools in the north-east, especially in comparison to London (which also had a low closure rate), it seems logical location is the real closure culprit.

2. Why do teachers want to work a 4-day week?

A recurring theme among Teacher Tapp users is a desire to reduce their working hours. But by how much?

In an ideal world, and taking into account salary losses, 47% of teachers said they would choose to work a 4-day week. 

A further 21% would work for 3 (or 3.5) days.

Just 29% – less than 1 in 3 – wanted to work at school for 5 days.

Contrary to our prior findings, we did find a gender difference this time.

Twice as many men wanted to stick with a 5-day week compared to women. And, twice as many women wanted to drop to a 3 day week compared to men.

The 4-day week, however, was the most popular for both genders.

Job role made little difference. (Headteachers skew slightly male so the 5day/3day thing here is not surprising).

So what is going on? Why do so many teachers want a 4-day week?

One hypothesis relates more to a shift in societal norms than to the structure of teaching jobs.

For much of the late 20th century, people living in couples tended to have one ‘breadwinner’ and one part-time or non-working partner. In this set-up, household tasks were done by the part-time or non-working partner (often leading to working hours far longer than those of ‘breadwinner’).

Increasingly, as mortgages required two incomes, and equal opportunities grew in education and workplaces, it is both partners increasingly had full-time jobs or at least one full- and one substantial part-time job. The problem? Who now does the household chores? Although technologies have helped, these haven’t gone away – they must still be done.

Could it be that teachers are therefore not just saddled with long (almost never-expanding) working hours for their jobs but trying to combine these with household chores means they would forgo some salary in order to have one-day a week to catch up on such things? Hence, the extra day might be for catching up on school paperwork, but it could as easily be for ‘life admin’.

A few weeks ago we asked about the earning levels of users’ partners – so we decided to take a look at this. Are teachers who want to work 5-days matched with partners earning much less than them, thereby signalling a spouse who works part-time or not at all?

As you can see, teachers with a partner earning substantially less are most likely to say they would want to work 5 days.

Those with a partner earning substantially more than them are the ones most wanting to work 3 days.

Maybe this is a straightforward economic transaction. The people with lower-earner spouses simply cannot afford to drop down, whereas those with higher-earning spouses can.

However, that big glut of 4-day workers across all variables here is interesting. There seems something about that pattern which is inherently attractive to a lot of people.

One final curiosity. We checked teacher preference for free-time rather than pay in another way this past week. Look at this:

When asked to directly choose – 60% of teachers would take extra pay over free time. This conflicts with the 60% of people who, in an ideal world, would reduce their salary for an additional free day each week.

Holidays are not the same as individual days, however. Is this another signal that teachers don’t want more ‘rest’ time, then, but are merely seeking time for weekly chores? We will keep digging. Let us know what you think in the meantime…

3. The photocopiers are alright

Although 44% of teachers said their tech failed at some point that day, photocopiers are not a main gripe:

We looked to see if there were any differences related to school performance. Did outstanding schools have better photocopiers than inadequate schools? But, nah, there was nothing in it. Photocopier equality is real.

4. What can your 16-year-old self tell us about your current career?

A masters student got in touch looking for information about teachers’ childhoods – in particular, if they had positions of responsibility at school.

Here is what we found:

Several teachers on social media were keen to point out they only didn’t have the roles because they didn’t exist at their school rather than because they didn’t achieve one.  

If the numbers seem high, given how few people get these roles, the ever-concise Mike Cameron was ready to remind:

Except of course there are still nerdy things to see! 

For example, primary teachers were less swotty likely to have one of these… particularly academic achievement awards ?. (Though they are marginally ahead on proportion of prefects).

Also, headteachers are slightly ahead in the prefect/academic ranks.

We haven’t yet run analysis on whether former prefects are also more likely to have a Blue Peter Badge? Get your bets in now…

5. How many teachers are making cash on the side?

Another teacher recently asked about the prevalence of private tutoring. Although there is a buoyant tutoring industry most research focuses on the proportion of children receiving it, rather than teachers paid to give it.

This means that in the past twelve months:

  • 1 in every 7 teachers was paid for private tuition 
  • 1 in every 7 teachers undertook paid exam marking 
  • 1 in every 16 teachers made money selling education resources

These are not huge numbers. And these figures don’t tell us if the same people doing private tuition are also doing exam marking and selling education resources (though they are being very enterprising if so!)

What it does show is the direct alternative market for teacher skills. Schools can never presume their teachers can’t use their abilities for more lucrative ends elsewhere!


INTERLUDE: As mentioned, several classroom-based questions (detentions, powerpoints, etc) were skewed this week due to snow, so we will ask again in the coming days – watch out!


6. Finally, as ever, we learned that you really love our daily tips, so here are the links for last week:

Hospitals do better when run by doctors (why?)

Do your emotions affect your teaching? 

Does pre-testing work?

Why schools should not teach generic thinking skills

Long read: What’s so bad about comic sans?

5 teaching methods you should STOP


Right folks – over and out for another week…

In the meantime, please keep sharing what we are doing. Remember, we need more of you before we can do the really exciting and detailed analysis!

Here’s the powerpoint slide (with script), a PDF, and a black-and-white one-pager to help out with that.


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