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Vegan teachers, early birds and why primary teachers aren't chatting enough...

20 January 2020

1. How many teachers are vegan?

Laura is eating strange green things this January… and it seems that many of you are too. Usually, just 2% of teachers are vegans but this has doubled to 4% during ‘Veganuary’. We’ll be interested to see how many of you decide to switch permanently.

We had assumed that vegan teachers would principally be younger, but it seems this isn’t true. The over 50s are least likely to eat no animal products, and there are no differences in routine vegans between other age groups. (Though we could see that maths teachers were most likely to have stuck to meat-eating throughout their lives.)

2 Groundhog Day!

As Teacher Tapp has now been going for 2.5 years we have been able to track changes over time. One of the things we’ve been curious to know is how the average teacher day works. What time do you get up? What time do you arrive at school? And so on.

Between 2018 (two years ago) and now we’ve not seen a great deal of change. Teachers still get up weirdly early – with more than a third of you getting up by 6am. And almost everyone is in work and raring to go before 8am.

So the next time your friend is complaining about you finishing work ‘early’, do remind them what time you also start your job!

Furthermore, do teachers really skip out of the gate at 3.30pm? Our recent survey suggests not. Only around 1-in-4 teachers is home before 5.30pm and headteachers had very late nights – with 31% of secondary heads not getting home until after 7.30pm.

Why the high numbers? Possibly, it is affected by us asking about a Wednesday in January. It is a time of year when schools have parents evenings and it’s a day of the week when there are often governing body or senior leadership meetings. Both could cause the average to go upwards. However, there is an important point here. People often forget the many days of the year when teachers work late: school performances, theatre or sports trips, parents’ evenings, open evenings, governors’ meetings. Given the incredibly early starts most teachers also have, it’s a useful reminder of just how gruelling term-time can be.

3 Cursive script from the start?

One revolution of our lifetime has been how little adults now write by hand. Where once we had little bumps on our finger joints, we now have RSI instead! Children, however, still really do need to write fluently – they do it all day at school and need it for exams. In primary schools, the big debate is whether to start with cursive or print script in Reception. In secondary schools, the main point of contention is whether to fix the handwriting of students who cannot write fluently on arrival. We asked some questions to learn about current practice.

In 1-in-5 secondary schools, only a few students write with joined-up handwriting. In primary schools, current practice is very split, with slightly more schools choosing to start with print letters in reception before switching in Year 1 or 2.

One-third of our sample said that they would choose to use cursive script from the start, but who are these teachers? It turns out they usually aren’t the ones who actually have to read the cursive script of 4-year-olds! Reception Class teachers have a strong preference for teaching print letters (note – they do want to teach some sort of handwriting).

We also wondered whether your own school’s current practice is consistent with your own preferences. And it isn’t! Only half of the teachers who work in schools teaching cursive script from the start think it is a good idea. (This is true for Reception Class or KS1-only teachers too, though the sample sizes start to get small.)

4 The #cogsci revolution is here… or is it?

We know that lots of you love reading about cognitive science on our daily tips, but does this translate into school practice? It seems not, especially in the primary and special school sectors.

We asked how often you were conversing with teachers about some of the most common and straightforward cognitive science concepts that we feature on Teacher Tapp. But only about half of primary Tappsters said they had ever talked about ‘retrieval practice’ with another teacher in their school and FAR FEWER had talked about interleaving or spaced practice.

Why is this? Do primary teachers feel that research is less relevant to their age group? Or is it simply that because there are fewer teachers in a primary school to chat with then there’s less chance of finding a kindred spirit to mull over these things? Or could it be workload? Are primary teachers simply too busy for chatter? Let us know if you have some questions to help us learn more about this (email or via the feedback button in the app’s top left menu).

5 Finally, here are last week’s tips for you to read

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