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What Teachers Tapped This Week #46 - 13th August 2018

13 August 2018

OK, I think it’s safe to say this week that almost all Teacher Tappers are away and on holiday by now.

BUT – there is still tapping to be done, AND we are running an amazing giveaway over the summerFor every question you answer throughout August you will get a raffle ticket to win THE TEACHER TAPP CANON. Also, spot prizes for users who have long answering streaks.

RIGHT, onto results! This week we’ve looked at…

1.Primary teachers DON’T all love ‘the fun stuff’

One argument against subject-specialist primary teachers is that variation keeps things interesting. After all, who would want to teach only maths or English to 8-year-olds all day?

But what about an alternative approach in which teachers do fewer subjects – and use their freed time to plan or mark work? One mooted solution is for teachers to give up part of their curriculum to specialists who might work across several schools to alleviate workload. PE is often done in this way: with specialists taking the subject while teachers do PPA.

We thought that lots of teachers would want to hand over the ‘stressful’ examined subjects of maths and English. We were completely wrong. 

If primary teachers could hand over one subject grouping to a specialist teacher, they actually selected PE and all the creative/performing arts. The very subjects people say makes primary teaching worthwhile! And maths & English were the ones teachers most wanted to keep.

There is a slight age effect. Younger teachers were slightly more inclined to give up foundation subjects, maths, and English, compared to their older peers. But in every group PE/creative arts dominated.

Could a solution for workload be a world in which pupils do PE and creative arts with specialist external teachers one day per week, and teachers can have a whole day for planning? We can but dream!

2.Premium Brand Friends

Is teaching a well-paid profession? The answer is tough to find. It depends on age, location, other jobs in the market.

A simple way to answer the question is to find out if people earn more or less than colleagues on their degree course. Friends tend to have similar personalities, and the fact people were on the same course suggests a similar level of prior attainment and interests.

Among those who were still in touch with people on their courses: 36% said their colleagues earned MORE

29% said their colleagues earned the same, and 

Only 17% said they earned LESS.

BUT note something odd… As we get older, the percentage of people who are not in touch with people from their undergraduate course grows. This makes sense. We lose contact as lives wear on. BUT, regardless of age, around 26-29% of the cohort reckoned the majority earned more. This percentage doesn’t appear to change regardless that more teachers said they had now lost contact, meaning we’d expect the numbers across all earnings groups to have reduced accordingly.

What might be causing the pattern? It could be that older teachers originally knew a lot more people who earned more from their course. OR, a more tantalising prospect: do teachers lose contact more readily with people who earn less than them?

3.Never Discount A Raggy Doll

If you watched children’s television anytime between 1986 and 1994 you’re likely to remember a cartoon called The Raggy Dolls. In the opening sequence an imperfect ballerina doll is scooped from an assembly line and thrown in the “rejects bin”. Happily, she discovers that everyone else in there (‘the raggy dolls’) are delightful.

The reject bin is having a moment in teacher training. Schools minister Nick Gibb has warned training providers not to keep rejecting thousands of prospective teachers every year.

Amid complaints about lowering standards, he might have a point. 

We found that 19% of teachers were rejected from at least one teacher training course. And yet they have gone on to teach.

Rejections seem less frequent in the shortage subjects of maths and science – although it could be that people with those subjects are more easily put off, and so don’t apply again or elsewhere.

We also don’t know why people were turned down. It could be that places were full in subjects such as history and English (which are often well-subscribed). In either case, a chunk of people who get turned down for courses who nevertheless go on and manage to do the job perfectly well. Is such strictness therefore necessary?

A word on ‘apprenticeships’

One other thing we looked at this week was the preference for different teacher training routes.

We asked if people would prefer:

  • An apprenticeship, with a teaching load of 30% in Year 1 and 60% in Year 2. With one day a week at uni.
  • A waged school-based programme, with a teaching load of 70% in Year 1 and 80% in Year 2. University in the summer.
  • A university course in Year 1 paying your own fees with school placements, and standard teaching job in the second year. (Essentially the PGCE model).

The models were all popular:

The apprenticeship: 36%

The school-based approach: 34%

The university model: 31%

BUT, this is a great example of the numbers misleading us into a wrong path. On the basis of these figures, it would be easy to run straight down an apprenticeship path.

HOWEVER – the apprenticeship model was most popular among people who have been in the profession for 10+ years. And those are not the teachers the government are trying to attract!

Teachers who have been in the profession less than 5 years were most attracted to the school-based model (39% vs 35%, and just 26% picked the university model). This suggests that while the TeachFirst approach is expensive and has flaws, it is an attractive one for newbies.

What the data also shows is that a diversity of paths is a good thing. At every stage of experience, at least 25% of teachers picked each route. Viva la differences!

4. Baseline: cruel but necessary?

Back in May, when we asked about the planned baseline assessments for reception children, 57% of teachers thought they were ‘cruel’. Yes, cruel.

This week, however, we went back with a different question-wording. We asked if teachers were in favour of replacing the current SATs for 7-year-olds with the new baseline assessment. Remarkably, 41% of headteachers agreed this was a good idea. Whaaat?

Even at the classroom teacher level we only saw 27% strongly disagreeing with the move, even though 41% of teachers previously said the baseline was cruel!

This shows that (a) question-framing affects the way people answer, and that (b) the way a policy choice is framed makes a difference to people’s reactions. In the same way that a child will act differently if you give them a choice – so, too, do our opinions. When the choice is between SATs or a baseline, it seems that people are more likely to accept the baseline, even if they wouldn’t accept the test beforehand.

Politicians know this and often employ this tactic – just the same way as teachers do when they ask a pupil if they are either going to sit down or do a detention!

5. Maths Tutoring

If we’re struggling as a country to get maths teachers, then one of their secret perks is they earn money via private personal tutoring. Three in 10 maths teachers said they were paid for personal tutoring outside of school in the past 12 months.

The figure for humanities, social science, creative arts and PE teachers was less than 1 in 10.

So, become a maths teacher: get an automatic side hustle. No wonder it’s harder to get heads of department in that subject!


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

What’s the use of handwriting?

Keeping productive and organised using Evernote

How to have a messiness approach

In praise of a prosaic curriculum

On being absent on result’s day


Right folks – over and out for another week…

In the meantime, keep sharing what we are doing. Here’s a powerpoint slide (with script), a PDF, and a black-and-white one-pager to help.

Remember, we need more of you before we can do the really exciting and detailed analysis!

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