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Your friends at school, languages and the pandemic legacy

17 January 2023

Golden Ticket Update

The January draw has been completed, and the lucky ticket winning £3000 is gold-parrot-59! 🥳 It still hasn’t been claimed, so check your app to make sure you’re not missing out!

That’s it for the Golden Tickets this time, but watch this space! We have more ways of saying thank you for tapping on the horizon 👀

Who needs friends at school?

We’ve now asked you a few times about whether you have a best friend at work because research in other industries tells us that having a best friend greatly increases the chance that you’ll stay in your job. After all, who wants to leave their best friend?! However, does having friends as colleagues matter more generally for wellbeing?

To answer this, we asked you two different questions about collegial friends last week. Is there someone who cares about and looks out for you, and do you have a best friend at work? For those of you who strongly feel you have colleagues who look out for you, the majority also say you have a best friend at work – it is unusual to have very strong collegial relations and yet feel you have no best friend.

Overall, about a third of teachers told us they have colleagues who look out and care for them. We find that headteachers are least likely to say they have a colleague who looks out and cares for them. It’s lonely at the top (although one-in-five lucky heads have a best friend at work).

Half of all headteachers do not feel they have a colleague who looks out and cares for them

But are those with collegial friends happier at work? Surprisingly, it doesn’t really seem so. Those with good collegial friends didn’t really seem much more likely to say they had enjoyed working last week and also weren’t much more likely to say they were content at school. So, it seems there are many different ways feel content at work – having a great friend is no guarantee of happiness!

Those with good collegial friends and best friends don't necessarily enjoy work more or are more content

Learning languages

Language leaning in schools is a frequent topic of policy debate so here’s a quick update on where we stand. French remains the most common language in state primary schools, but Spanish is gaining in popularity, particularly in higher FSM schools.

In the secondary phase, French and Spanish are now the dominant languages. German teaching is still common in the private sector and in more affluent state secondaries but is rare in high FSM schools now. The fee-paying sector offers a very wide range of language instruction, which frequently includes Latin and Ancient Greek.

French and Spanish are the dominant languages in schools, with more affluent schools offering German

Despite the difficulties in teaching languages within the system, most teachers feel that students should be spending more time studying them. Many teachers feel there should be more language instruction at KS2, but it is the secondary teachers (who won’t have to teach it) who are most likely to say they want to see more primary language instruction.

A massive three-quarters of secondary teachers feel there should be more time for language instruction at KS3. This is interesting – what do you think students should be spending less time studying to make room for this? Perhaps we’ll ask you in coming weeks!

More than half of teachers feel like pupils in KS2 and KS3 should study languages more

What did we learn from the pandemic?

Schools had to change so many practices during the pandemic, but what changes worked out so well that you kept them? In primary schools, over half of you said you have relaxed uniform in some way. 42% of you said that you still have hand sanitisation in place (even though we’ve known for a long time now that COVID is airborne). And about a third said you make use of online parents evening and have kept some changes to lunch arrangements.

6-in-10 secondaries are keeping some online parents evenings. 3-in-10 now provide online learning for students off-sick. And a about a third have made lasting changes to lunch arrangements. Other things have generally returned to pre-pandemic arrangements. We’ve reported in the past that mixed attainment classes have generally returned to pre-pandemic levels (though have remained slightly higher in English). Similarly, very few schools have retained having students remain seated in one classroom whilst teachers move rooms.

Lasting changes from the pandemic. More than half of primary schools say they have relaxed uniform arrangements and 61% of secondary schools are moving parents evenings online

Talking of getting back to normal. It seems that secondary teachers finally feel that the exam classes seem more normal in terms of their anxiety and stress levels. These are cohorts whose secondary education has been severely disrupted by the pandemic, but they have known for a long time now that they will be examined at the end of their courses. And they have had the chance to sit end-of-year tests and mock exams to get used to the idea of working towards their exams.

Over time, exam classes are less stressed than previously about exams

And finally…

The most read blog post of the week was from Jonathan Mountstevens who explained why his school has stopped using target grades.

Other posts last week were: