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What Teachers Tapped This Week #64 - 17th December 2018

17 December 2018

Folks, we’re nearly there! It’s near the end of term and we have the new version of Teacher Tapp winging its way to your phone. Do upgrade. If you stay on the old version you won’t see all the results, and it all might look a bit strange, so check that you’ve got app updates switched on.

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Right, onto this week’s results…

1.Nativity Determinism – Round 2

How can you spot a future headteacher? Look for the narrator in a school nativity play.

Are we sure? Well, it’s the second time we’ve asked this question and it’s exactly the same finding as last year!

Could the predominance of narrators among heads be caused by a gender imbalance in roles? It seems not. Male primary teachers are more likely to be narrators, but this reverses at secondary school and overall balances out.

Could it be that kids chosen to be narrators are typically the furthest ahead at reading out loud in a fluent manner, and this skill is central for creating future headteachers? If so, the Department for Education needs to get narrators signed up for PGCEs before they do their SATs. In the current teacher recruitment climate, every little helps!


2.How common is Ofsted ‘gaming’?

Ofsted is considering changing the notice period for inspection to just 150 minutes for some schools. It would mean the lead inspector calls the headteacher and then, 150 minutes later, arrives on-site and spends the rest of the day preparing for the full inspection which only properly starts the next morning.

Our panelists are not in love with the idea (52% against):


Senior leaders dislike the 150-minutes notice most of all (52% heads were strongly against), which isn’t surprising given they put the paperwork together ready for Ofsted’s arrival. If a head is out of school when the call comes in, it will put the other leaders in a difficult position. Other panelists said it also increases the stress on staff.

Why would Ofsted even consider something so unpopular? One reason is to avoid schools doing things in the warning period which might skew the results. Accusations are commonly made about academy chains parachuting in teachers from other schools in the trust, or rapidly arranging trips for the most challenging pupils.

How realistic are these accusations? Well, 8% of teachers said they had been asked to teach a different class during an Ofsted inspection:

And a whopping 24% of teachers have worked in a school where children were sent off-site or kept at home on purpose during an Ofsted inspection:

Also, 11% of primary teachers have been called into school during an Ofsted even though they were supposed to be away:

Many school leaders will argue these measures help present the school in its best possible light, which is not an unreasonable thing to do. But it calls into question the accuracy of an Ofsted report compared to the standards on an ordinary schools. It’s also unfair that academy chains can port staff around at will, whereas maintained or single academy schools can’t.

Given academy chains dominate so heavily in the south, we would expect London schools to be particularly prone to this sort of behaviour, yet it didn’t seem to come out the worst – though, in part, that’s because so many teachers there haven’t been through an inspection. (Because the profession is younger in the capital, and there are more outstanding schools so they won’t be reinspected).

Teacher switching more frequently occurs in schools where more pupils are on free school meals (possibly due to greater behaviour challenges).

Of course, schools could continue using these tactics even if Ofsted arrive within 150 minutes, as they’re possible to do even if an inspector is in an office somewhere, and because there are no real rules against many of them. (For example, switching teachers is totally allowed).

That said, it would be harder to do so with Ofsted on the premises, so the idea may be unpopular but also effective.

3.Teachers want a Terry’s Chocolate Orange, apparently

It’s that time of year when parents buy presents for teachers, but what do you all want? Home-made cards and bottles of wine!

Present preferences change slightly by gender and age phase, but only marginally. (No idea why female secondary teachers are so excited about board markers…)


Furher Intel: If you want to please the 14% of teachers who are after chocolates, then we also have news…

Maybe it’s the small packaging, maybe it’s the satisfying way that clonking it on a table breaks it open, but it turns out that, when all is said and done, what teachers really want for Christmas is a Terry’s Chocolate Orange. Or, failing that, some Ferrero Rocher.

As for the 4% who said they want the money instead? Lolz.


4.What are teachers doing on a Sunday?

For most of you it was the last weekend before term ends and a third of teachers spent part of their Sunday marking books. 

How likely you are to mark books changes by subject. Almost half of English teachers marked books this Sunday.

AND – as several panelists tweeted to tell us – this doesn’t take into account the many teachers marking mock exams at the weekend too. At this time of year, secondary teachers are often under a mountain of marking.

Does this mean that senior leaders, with lower teaching timetables, therefore had an easy weekend?

Unlikely! As you can see, heads and senior leaders spend more time dealing with emails and social media on the weekend than classroom teachers.


5.Boiling Hot Classrooms: A Memory Check

Earlier this year when it was burning hot, and everyone was sweltering, we asked about the difficulty of teaching in hot classrooms vs freezing cold ones.

At the time, 85% of teachers said it was harder to teach in a boiling hot classroom

HOWEVER, we had a hunch that teachers feel more strongly about an unpleasant situation they are currently in when comparing it to an unpleasant situation in the past. Hence, if you ask ‘is your workload worse now or in the past’ they will dislike the current situation more simply because it is happening right now (as opposed to it being objectively worse).

So, we asked again, now that it was very cold, and we found that number dropped down to 77% of teachers saying it’s harder to teach in a hot classroom

The shift is not huge, but it suggests that context matters. Unpleasant experiences happening now seem worse to at least some of us than unpleasant experiences in the past.

Also, it shows that most people struggle in boiling classrooms. Air-conditioning systems aren’t cheap for schools, but with summers being the way they have for the last few years, they may become ever more popular.



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

Is reading audiobooks a form of cheating?

Assessing learning or one-off performance?

How to improve reading fluency

Personalised learning is a distraction

The more we know about education research the less we agree

The limitations of meta-analysis and effect sizes


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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