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Vaccines, meetings in lockdown, and a rare upside of the pandemic!

2 February 2021

A rare pandemic upside?

Every cloud has a silver lining, even a year-long pandemic shaped one. One of the upsides of being prevented from doing anything fun outside the house is that you have no opportunities to spend money on entertainment and travel. There has been a huge rise in the proportion of teachers who say they have a spare £5,000 squirrelled away that could be spent on an emergency. Half of you say you could now do this, up from 38% a year ago.

The improvement in personal savings has principally come from those in their 20s and 30s. These groups obviously tend to earn less and are more able to socialise and travel more in ‘normal’ times, especially if they haven’t yet started a family. It’ll be interesting to see whether this improvement in finances persists, or whether it’ll be a spent on a massive holiday when we are finally let out again!

2. Leisure time?

We keep hearing of people sitting around relaxing with not much to do. However, few of these people seem to be teachers. Over half of you are dissatisfied with the amount of leisure time you have, even during the pandemic. Feelings about leisure time are a little worse for those who have children at home.

Perhaps this chart explains what has happened to all your time. The majority of you are conducting ‘live’ and/or interactive lessons each week and this is a huge change from lockdown 1 where relatively few of you tried doing this. (Even ‘chat-based’ interaction was low last May). This changes have been most pronounced in the state primary sector, where the proportion who said they taught at least one ‘live’ lesson has increased from just 3% to 46%.

You are also going into school a lot more. On any given day, about half of primary teachers and a quarter of secondary teachers tend to go onto the school site. Again, these changes are most pronounced in the state primary where the proportion going into school during the first lockdown varied between about 10 and 20% on any day; this time round the in-school attendance figures for teachers are 50-60%. We had wondered whether those who are live teaching were going in less than others – the answer is that there are no differences at all in attendance.

3. A normal lockdown?

During Lockdown 1 there was more of a sense that this was a national emergency, so most things stopped. This time round there are more attempts to keep things going, so this means more meetings. Last week, about 4-in-10 of you had a morning meeting at least once. Whilst this is lower than in ‘normal’ times, it is still an extra thing to fit in on top of the complex process of online teaching.

Despite no in-person after-school clubs for pupils, a large number of you are having after-school meetings each day – although the percentage having 4 or more has dropped quite a bit.

4. Teaching online… forever?

In the future, we wondered if you might get so used to working at home that you might like to carry on doing it. When we asked last year, people were wildly against the idea, but you seem to have softened a little.

On the assumption that pay, hours and safety were equal, the majority of you would still prefer to teach entirely from the school’s grounds. But a substantial minority (around 30%) of classroom teachers would choose to do half-in, half-distance teaching. And 10% of secondary classroom teachers were up for distance teaching full-time. Could this be a new career choice?!

5. Who should we vaccinate?

Several of you asked us to find out about teacher preferences when it comes to vaccines. The Labour Party have been pushing for teachers to be vaccinated asap. However, the government has a list of priority groups – with the first 10 outlined below (we collapsed a few age ranges).

Did teachers think they should jump ahead of any of these groups?

For those clinically at risk, in care homes, or over 65, the general view was that they should be vaccinated ahead of teachers. Once the groups dipped under the retirement age, however, fewer than half of teachers felt those age groups should be vaccinated ahead of the profession.

A nuance that the Labour Party should perhaps heed!

Finally, we know you love the daily reads, so here are last week’s!