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The Anxiety of Leaking, a strange summer and the return of the genie!

21 July 2020

1. The Problem of Media Leaks

The media are often criticised for making the teaching job harder. Is it a fair complaint? Given that one of our co-founders edited a newspaper,it’s an awkward question. Yet we have evidence which suggests it is true.

For the past year we’ve asked Teacher Tapp users to rate their work-related anxieties on Tuesdays. The left-hand side of the graph shows anxiety before the pandemic. The first huge spike came just before the lock-down announcement; the second, came just after the partial re-opening announcements.

Yet we were surprised to see a spike at the end of June – several days before Gavin Williamson announced the full re-opening of schools in September. What was going on?

Looking back, it turns out the sudden increase in anxiety coincided with the Huffington Post printing a leaked version of the plans for re-opening schools. Anxiety then remained high while teachers waited for further details.

Of course, journalists have a duty to report what they know. But when information comes out ahead of official guidance it really does seem to activate anxieties among the teaching profession.

2. End of term

Usually we spend the end of the academic year writing about trips, and proms, and what sort of gifts you got from pupils. Not quite the same this year!

However, after seeing teachers discussing various end-of-year staff ‘gatherings’ – including virtual bingo and socially-distanced cheesecake parties – we wondered how many of you were getting a summer send-off.

Primary teachers were most likely to have an in-person event, which makes sense given that around 60% of you were back in school on any given day during July anyway.

In secondary schools, far fewer have arranged in-person events and only 40% of schools organised any kind of event at all. Happily, a further 17% of you work in schools where the staff took it upon themselves to organise something anyway.

By comparison, last year just 22% of secondary schools and 14% of primary schools had no social event at the end of the academic y ear. 2020 really has been a bust!

3. Summer Holiday

In a typical school summer holiday, the majority of teachers go abroad for at least some of the time. That said, whilst many teachers who sign up for the classroom dream of spending their entire summer travelling, the reality is that only a minority ever do. In a typical year only about 1-in-20 teachers go abroad for more than 3 weeks and a further 7% go abroad for more than 2 weeks.

Of course, this year things will be different. Just 1-in-5 teachers are expecting to go abroad and, of those, the vast majority are going away for just one or two weeks.

Each year, about 1-in-10 teachers also take the opportunity to do paid work over the summer. This is evenly split between work they do all year round, such as private tutoring, and work that is a one-off job for the summer, such as examining or working at holiday clubs.

We had expected these figures to be MUCH lower this summer due to the pandemic. There has been no examination marking (though some were paid anyway) and fewer holiday clubs seem to be running for children. However, the fall in numbers of working teachers is very slight.

Given that fewer of you are going abroad, are you taking more chances to make extra cash?!

4. How will your school catch up?

Teachers and school leaders face a complicated autumn. Most pupils will have missed substantial amounts of time in school, yet some will have continued learning (via remote or independent learning) while others will have done very little. The expectations on schools are likely to be just as great as before – with SATs exams, phonics, and GCSEs all slated to go ahead in 2020-21.

What are schools considering doing to compensate for lost learning time? Many of you said you weren’t yet sure – which is fair enough given it’s quite a new problem! Having removed those answers, however, the graph below shows what we found for teachers in different phases and located in different levels of deprivation.

Primary schools are most likely to increase the amount of small group/1-to-1 interventions, whereas secondary schools seem to be most likely to be running extra lunchtime or after-school classes. But there are lots of other options, all of which appeal to a minority of schools.

Back in June, the Prime Minister originally said that pupils would all be given catch-up support over the summer. The plan has now transmogrified into catch-up tuition classes, which may not be accessible before the winter.

So what will pupils do over the summer instead? If they’re in a private school, or in a school located in the poorest parts of the country, then there’s a decent chance they’ll be completing work set by their teacher! Secondary schools have been particularly hot on setting summer work, with 22% of teachers in FSM Quartile 4 schools saying they were setting work for most students. Teachers in more affluent areas were much less likely to agree (just 8% set work for all pupils). Primary schools followed the same pattern.

5. The genie returns!

Every now and then we resurrect the Teacher Tapp genie, who brings wishes for you to choose from! Back in October the genie offered you one item for every teacher in your school. At the weekend, he reappeared and offered the same list. Have things changed? Oh, yes!

Back in October, 47% of you wanted an extra free period. Now, time is still the most popular choice but it has dropped points. Instead, visualisers are now the second most desired object – almost doubling in popularity. IPads/Tablets have also doubled in popularity. Has lockdown shown that tech can make a difference to time?!

6. Finally, we know you enjoy the daily tips, so here are last week’s