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The Slow Difficulties Of The October Term

6 October 2020

It’s October. Things always feel a little bit more exhausting in October. Especially a pandemicy October!

Unfortunately, the euphoria of returning to school and seeing your students has dissipated and, though 73% of still enjoyed working in school last week, the levels of enjoyment are gradually falling.

Why? Well, all the new routines and uncertainty of what each day brings can be exhausting, even in a normal school year.

Last Thursday, however, only 83% of schools were open to all classes. That figure is stable compared to the week before, so things aren’t (so far) getting worse. But randomly having year groups or classes out is quite disorienting.

That said, there’s also good news! More and more of you are able to get COVID tests on time and the number of you who are needing to isolate at home has not increased over the past three weeks.

2. Deja vu?

How hard is school right now compared to another tricky time? We decided to repeat a question we asked in a particularly hard week in March, just before schools closed. Things now are very similar to then. Many of you are working out how to support home learners and preparing for any school closures that may happen later in the year.

Even worse than in March, more of you having to take on extra duties to cover staff absences. (Staggered breaks and lunches have increased staffing requirements in some schools). One in five also had to cover a lesson last week due to staff illness.

3. Change for lunch

It may seem a small thing, but lunchbreaks are important for teachers – it can be one of the few times in the whole day where you get to eat, drink, rest or go to the toilet!

You’ve already told us that you’re eating in the staffroom and canteen much less than in previous year. But you are also doing different things on your break, at least compared to the last time we asked during Autumn 2018, two years ago. The good news is that you are talking to colleagues in similar numbers (three-quarters of you do this). You are more likely to go outside, but also more likely to be on your phone checking social media, news and reading emails. Tidying your classroom is less common now, though. Perhaps because so many of you have become nomadic teachers!

4. Keep your head

Headteacher watch continues. We’ve now asked whether the COVID-19 pandemic has changed your career aspirations several times. The number of heads who say they are now more likely to leave the profession continues to increase – one-in-three heads now feel this way. Some of these figures are more worrying than others – e.g. whilst classroom teachers might feel they want to leave the classroom, the economic climate makes it very difficult to do so unless your family can take the income hit.

5. The TT Genie visits in a pandemic

The Teacher Tapp Genie was back this week! Getting teachers to decide if they would prefer top exams results, well-being or cash is one of our most attention-grabbing questions, but we wondered if surviving a global pandemic might have made any of these options more or less attractive.

By and large, it hadn’t! Most teachers want £10k – virus or not. But we did see a small shift away from teachers selecting top exam grades for their pupils to instead choosing well-being and peace of mind for colleagues. Did the exams debacle this year make people re-think, or is it more that you want to cheer up colleagues? Let us know on social media!

6. Finally, we know you love the daily tips, so here they are!