Reality of lockdown for school staff: 5 key findings

From where you work to your teaching hours, the Tes UK school staff survey reveals what lockdown has meant for you.
5th May 2020, 5:03am


Reality of lockdown for school staff: 5 key findings
Coronavirus: The Reality Of Lockdown For Schools & Teachers Has Been Revealed In A Tes Uk School Staff Survey

When Tes asked school staff across the UK last week to take a few minutes to complete our coronavirus survey, an incredible 18,953 responded.

We have already reported on your safety concerns about social distancing and personal protective equipment (PPE) when schools reopen to more pupils, and whether you think the government is doing enough to help you.

Now, here is what you told us about what is happening with your schools and working lives now - as most pupils stay at home.

Coronavirus: Only 27% of teachers happy with DfE help

Exclusive: School social distancing 'impossible', say 74% 

Safety: 'Give PPE to all of us,' say three-quarters of school staff

Coronavirus: Where have teachers been working?

A large majority - 71 per cent - of school staff have been spending the lockdown working from home, the survey reveals.

Asked where they had "mainly" been working, less than a quarter said they have been going into school. Those that did were made up of the 19 per cent of staff who have been going to their usual school, and another 3 per cent who have been working at a "hub" school.   


Separate Department for Education research had already shown how the number of teachers going into state schools in England had dropped to 59,000 - from 283,000 at the start of the lockdown. Although by Friday 24 April this had climbed back up to 96,000 teaching staff in schools.

How many schools have stayed open?

Despite the high proportion of teachers working at home, a large majority - 86 per cent - of UK schools have kept their doors open for some pupils during the lockdown, the Tes survey shows.

The figure rises to 89 per cent when just responses from state school staff are included.


The finding is from Tes survey responses largely collected last week.  It compares with the "around 78 per cent of settings" the DfE found were open on Friday 24 April (based on responses from 70 per cent of schools) and suggests that school openings are continuing.

The previous week the DfE had found that just 61 per cent of schools were open. 

If your school is open, roughly what proportion of pupils are coming in?

Nearly two-thirds of staff told us that 4 per cent or fewer pupils were actually attending school. And four-fifths of them said no more than 10 per cent of pupils were physically present. 


Again, the figures collected last week may reflect an upward trend. DfE figures collected on Friday 24 April found that attendance rose to 1.9 per cent of pupils that week, having previously been below 1 per cent.

Not surprisingly, 79 per cent of school staff responding to the Tes survey felt pupil numbers in school were manageable.

Are pupils in school being taught? And if so how long for?

When education secretary Gavin Williamson announced school closures for most pupils, he was clear that for those that did go in it would largely be about providing a safe place for them.

"It's not going to be an educational setting, they're not going to be teaching the national curriculum," the education secretary said.

And so, when those whose school is open were asked how many hours per day - on average - they estimated pupils were being taught on site, it should not be a surprise that 22 per cent replied: "None - we're offering childcare."

But teaching is going on in many schools, with 29 per cent of school staff reporting that pupils on site are being taught for more than five hours a day. And that figure is the same for both state and independent schools, according to the Tes survey.

How much remote teaching is happening?

Lastly, we come to what has recently become one of the most controversial aspects of schools' current predicament. 

Former schools minister Lord Adonis last week called on Ofsted to "highlight poor practice" where state schools were not providing "a full online learning programme".  

But he was swiftly castigated by teachers who pointed out the two days' notice and "chronic lack of funds" that schools had had to contend with.

Both factors may help to explain the variation in responses when Tes asked staff: "How many hours of remote lessons per day, per pupil, would you estimate that your school is providing on average?"


When state schools alone are looked at, the "more than five hours" figure drops to 12 per cent.


But for just independent schools it rises to 39 per cent. 


You’ve reached your limit of free articles this month

Register for free to read more

You can read two more articles on Tes for free this month if you register using the button below.

Alternatively, you can subscribe for just £1 per month for the next three months and get:

  • Unlimited access to all Tes magazine content
  • Exclusive subscriber-only articles 
  • Email newsletters

Already registered? Log in

You’ve reached your limit of free articles this month

Subscribe to read more

You can subscribe for just £1 per month for the next three months and get:

  • Unlimited access to all Tes magazine content
  • Exclusive subscriber-only articles 
  • Email newsletters