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What Teachers Tapped This Week #9 - 13th November

12 November 2017

Strange things are happening on Teacher Tapp for the next week or so. We’ve split you up! You’ll be getting questions suitable for either primary school teachers or secondary school teachers.

I know… there are a few of you for whom this split isn’t ideal – not least the special school teachers. Let’s try and get a few more of you signed up and then learn some particular things about your schools in the New Year.

In the meantime, if you think you might be getting the wrong questions then click here to switch tracks.

1. We are splitting you… and boy, are you split!

Most secondary school teachers think there is nothing better than students sat in rows, facing the most important person in the room. Primary teachers have desk organisation more conducive to group work. Some teachers care about this question so much that they are urging us to ask more questions to find out how much room dimensions or other factors (e.g. things screwed to the floor in labs) are constraining choices. Watch this space…

Libraries is another thing that is strikingly different in primary versus secondary schools. Most primary schools have no librarian, and even where they have one, they do little other than staff the library itself. By contrast, many secondary school librarians take an active role in teaching.

And primary teachers are much less likely to have read, or even heard of, Teach Like a Champion. The good news for the author, Doug Lemov, is that nearly everyone who has read it is using his routines in their classroom. Praise indeed!

2. You are, perhaps, not as divided as you’d think!

A teacher wanted to know how common moves across different sectors are and we were pretty surprised by the results. Out of those of you who have ever (i.e. not necessarily today) taught in a state-funded secondary school:

  • 10% also had experience of teaching in a state primary school
  • 2% had experience of teaching in special schools
  • 14% had taught in the private sector
  • 5% had experience FE or a 6th form college
  • Only 68% had only taught in state funded secondaries!

Similarly, 17% of those who have ever taught in a state primary have also taught in a state secondary, 12% have taught in private schools, 6% have taught in special schools.

I’m sure the very substantial middle school reorganisations that have taken place all over the country have affected these figures – we’ll take a closer look at this in the future.

3. Why are you all here anyway?

We asked you when and why you wanted to teach. Turns out you are a bunch with very varied motivations! It seems that those of you’ve who have wanted to teach from since you were very little are more likely to be motivated by working with children and making a difference to their lives. Very few of you were attracted to the pay and career opportunities… I wonder why?!?

4. Some of you have moved on more than others

We were astonished to find that almost 1-in-10 of you had an experience of teaching in a school you went to yourself. I get the jitters to just walk on my old school grounds, let alone enter the staff room!

The teacher who asked this question is from the South West. We thought that maybe this was a South West kind-of-thing-to-do. But it turns out the regional differences weren’t particularly pronounced. Returning to your old school was most common in the East Midlands, the East of England, the South East and the South West. It was least common in London, Yorkshire and Humber and the North East.

5. Teachers aren’t always nice to each other

We’ve been slowly collecting questions on a phenomenon that social researchers call ‘workplace aggression‘ – you’ll probably know it as ‘not being nice to each other‘. So far we’ve asked five questions and I’m sure we’ll ask more in the future. Like any workplace, it turns out some of you have had unpleasant experiences at work.

We’ll look in more detail at what sorts of schools this tends to happen at most in the future, but for now we’ll just compare primary and secondary sectors for Teacher Tapp panelists who are consistent enough to have answered all five questions. We’ve added up incidence of these events into a scale where a high number means more bad experiences have happened to you.

Who comes out worse? Well, at the moment it is looking like things are slightly worse in primary schools than they are in secondary schools. This fits my prejudices about the joys and perils of the primary school staffroom (having had a mum who was a primary teacher) – for many secondary teachers it is much easier to escape unpleasant workplace dynamics. We’ll keep adding to it to see how it develops.

And talking of sad things happening… we were upset to see that so many teachers would worry that their heads wouldn’t give them compassionate leave to attend a friend’s funeral. This question was asked by a teacher in direct response to a funeral attendance request being refused, when her teacher friend’s request was approved for exactly the same funeral.

6. So many inspiring heads!

Let’s finish on a bright note. Leading a school isn’t easy – it’s often lonely up there at the top. So it was lovely to hear about how many of your have worked for an inspiring headteacher at some point in your career – only 1-in-4 say that you most definitely haven’t. If this is you… keep looking… our data tells you they are out there!

7. Catch-up tips time

Like students who are late with their homework, there are always some of you who missed the tips first time round and need to catch-up. This is your last time to read them!

8. Stop Press primary tappers!

You won’t have been able to see the correct results on your phone yesterday because of the way we split the survey. Here they are…


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