What’s the Purpose of School? What’s the Purpose of Speaking to Parents?

Welcome to our weekly blog for Teacher Tapp Ghana!

Every Monday we summarize our most surprising and interesting survey findings from the week before. This weekly blog provides an easy way for you to learn about the experiences and opinions of teachers across Ghana.

Please encourage your colleagues to use the Teacher Tapp app to keep engaged with education even when they’re not teaching. Your responses are also a vital data source that will guide decision-making around best policies and approaches for enhancing the welfare of educators/teachers and ensuring robust educational sector management.

Many more teachers will like to be heard and this can be done through Teacher Tapp. Do share this blog with your colleagues and encourage them to use the download links at the bottom of the page. In the meantime, here are this week’s intriguing findings…

1. The primary focus

Students who are returning to school will have educational, mental and physical needs that teachers will need to deal with.

All of these needs are important, but it is impossible for schools to prioritise dealing with all three of them. For example, choosing to focus on catching students up on lost learning may necessarily involve having to keep all students in one room so that they can be taught by an expert teacher. Equally, wanting to control the spread of the infection may require all students to wear masks even though it may be distressing and damaging for their mental health.

With this problem in mind, we asked you which of the three needs you’d like schools to focus on.

Around 40% believed that ‘catching students up on lost learning’ should be the main focus of schools right now. However, a larger number of respondents reported that controlling the spread of COVID-19 should be the primary focus of schools.

Interestingly, dealing with issues of student mental health and wellbeing was a priority for only 1 in 5 teachers. This may be due to impending exams for the majority of returning students. It may also help with protecting students against bad mental health in the long term. If students do not catch up on learning to perform adequately in these exams, then a poor set of exam results could cause more negative mental health.

Equally, it may be due to schools lacking the resources or training to deal effectively with mental health as a priority. Let us know what explains this difference at baz@teachertapp.co.uk

2 . The purpose of parent engagement

Throughout school closures, we’ve asked you questions about your level of parent engagement. While this level of engagement has generally been high, we were surprised to find out that it has been lower than at time of the year when schools are open.

Some might argue that it’s more important to keep in contact with students’ parents when schools are closed than when they are open. Students and parents need to motivated to continue learning as well as being given updates on the developing situation with schools reopening.

However, this isn’t generally how you understand the purpose of parental engagement. When we asked you, a huge 80% of you told us you mainly keep in contact with parents to update them on their child’s progress. Meanwhile, only just over 50% of you saw parental engagement as a tool to increase student engagement and achievement within school.

Naturally, there is no student progress to update parents on during school closures. But there will be as schools reopen, and much of this progress will occur within a very short period of time. What is your plan for updating and keeping in contact with parents during this 6-week period? Let us know at baz@teachertapp.co.uk

3 . Face mask failure

Face masks present a real challenge for schools right now. Last week you told us you’re concerned about students losing them, forgetting to wear them and even forgetting to wash them.

What about teachers? Keeping busy with lots of different activities, it might be easy for a teacher to also make the same mistakes we worry that student might make. Equally, teachers may make principled decisions to not wear a mask in order to communicate more clearly with students or avoid discomfort.

If such action was to take place, two thirds of you believe that teacher should be professionally disciplined.

This finding goes together with point 1 above to show how serious you are about managing the spread of infection within schools and within Ghana more broadly. This is a good attitude to have – it is the best way of making sure the virus is under control as soon as possible!

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