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What Teachers Tapped This Week #62 - 3rd December 2018

3 December 2018

Hang on to your hats folks; it’s the month you predicted will be the toughest for behaviour (more on that below).

December is also the time of Christmas Carols, advent calendars, and the staff Xmas Party – so at least there’s that to look forward to as well!

Despicable Me Dance GIF - Find & Share on GIPHY

In the meantime, here’s what teachers said this week about the job. Does it chime with your views? 

1.Class Size: 30+ Kids Is Not Unusual

The standard maximum classroom size is thought of as 30 children. Over the last few years, with more children coming into schools than ever before, the maximum was squeezed.

Now, almost 4 in 10 teachers (38%) are teaching classes with more than 30 pupils. In fact

Even in primary schools, 25% of classes have more than 30 children in them.

At secondary, around half of teachers take at least one class with more than 30 children.

Given classrooms were likely built to accommodate 30 pupils, this is a squeeze!

Maths teachers are particularly afflicted with large class sizes, possibly as a consequence of more ability-setting within the subject which means top classes are sometimes over-stuffed while lower-attaining classes are minimal to enable more one-to-one intervention.

Creative/arts teachers tend to have the smallest classes, although most still have at least one class in the 29+ range.


2. A Full Timetable Means More Sickness

A teacher on Twitter asked us to find out if teachers with jam-packed timetables are more likely to take time off sick. If you have more teaching hours, the theory goes that you are more likely to stay home when feeling under par because it’s harder to battle through a full day.

Their hunch was correct!

There is a sharp distinction in absence rates between teachers who have more than 22 hours of timetabled teaching versus those under that amount.

Teachers in England have a reasonably high contact load versus teachers in other countries. Could it be that 22 hours is a limit beyond which teachers are stretched too far?


3.Does Ofsted’s Curriculum Focus Mean Teachers Want CPD?

We’ve asked this question about choice of CPD course three times now and so naturally wondered if the increasing noise about curriculum from Oftsed is increasing its popularity.

We took a look, and the answer is no! The popularity of curriculum courses had hovered at around one-third of teachers since we first asked in October 2017 (when our panel was admittedly much smaller).

So it’s not Ofsted driving the popularity of curriculum courses, it’s something that teachers have long felt they need.

Primary and core subject teachers are less likely to select curriculum INSET than a secondary teacher in non-core subjects. However, it was the most popular for absolutely everyone.

If you are planning an INSET for January, it is worth bearing this in mind.


4.A Cheap Way To Improve Teacher Wellbeing

54% of teachers think their school really cares about their wellbeing. Which leaves an alarming 46% who feel their school is indifferent or directly does not care.

Note how this changes with role. Senior leaders feel schools are much more caring than their classroom teachers do.

But all is not lost!

We asked teachers what they wished their line manager or head would do more often to make them happier.

Good News: the answer is cheap.

For teachers who disagree their school cares about their wellbeing57% would just like some genuine recognition given to them privately. Cost = £0.

That said, 36% of teachers who disagreed their school cared about their wellbeing also just wanted to be left alone. Teacher autonomy is important to wellbeing.


5.Is Behaviour Getting Any Better?

Running centralised detentions in secondary schools is generally seen as a good way to lower classroom teacher workload. So, we were amazed to see that half of our secondary teachers report they must oversee at least some of their own detentions they set.

We are still watching disruption in class on a Friday afternoon. As with previous points in the year, we find around a third of classes (30%) were disrupted.

And disruption rates are higher at this point in the term than back in September. Newer teachers are faring particularly badly (around 51% experienced disruption, versus around 40% at the start of term).

But you did predict back in September that behaviour would get worse over time with December the worse month.

In the words of Simon Cowell…



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

Lightbulb moments for threshold teachers

How can teaching not be knowledge-rich

Youngest children are more often diagnosed with ADHD

Optimum multiple choice test

Learning gains pyramid

Is the Marshmallow Test real?


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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