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3 Things Teachers Think about Classrooms

A room of one’s own? Not for most secondary teachers, says Laura McInerney...

  • 3 Things Teachers Think about Classrooms

1 | More than half of you don’t get your own classroom

A teacher’s classroom is their kingdom – but how many of you rule supreme?

When we surveyed 4,500 secondary teachers we found that 59% of you don’t have your own classroom. Even worse, around one in four teachers has to teach in four or more rooms, and one in 20 of you are teaching in a staggering 8 or more classrooms!

What’s the consequence of all this room changing? Other than perhaps bumping into some colleagues along the way and burning calories in the process?

One outcome is that teachers are often working in a room that is not fit for purpose. This poses a real problem for those who have special equipment needs for their lesson.

If you’re a science teacher placed into an English classroom then your lesson plan involving Bunsen burner is going straight out the window.

Yet, over half of science teachers, 53%, said they are timetabled to teach in an inappropriate classroom each week.

2 | What and where you teach makes a difference

Teachers in minority subjects are the most likely to be given multiple classrooms.

If it is because they require specialist equipment in each one then that makes sense. But for others, it seems to simply be because their ‘small’ subject status means they don’t get to have a dedicated corridor of classrooms.

Humanities teachers (52%), closely followed by maths (48%) and English (47%), are most likely to teach in a single classroom.

Teachers in areas with the highest levels of deprivation are also more likely to have their own classroom. Why? Our best guess is that the schools are less likely to be oversubscribed and therefore may have more space.

Hence, if you like to build your own environment, head to an undersubscribed school – and stay away from London, where just 36% of secondary teachers have their own classroom – far lower than in every other region.

3 | Teachers love to put desks in rows

Children spend more time sitting in rows as they get older, and by secondary only arts rooms are more likely to have desks in groups (41%) than rows.

Teachers with the most traditional teaching methods (maths and language) tend to like rows the most.

Seventy-three per cent of maths teachers said they organise their class in rows. Teachers who arrange their classroom in rows tend to really like them.

But many of you who have your room in groups of tables also say you’d prefer to have students sitting in rows if possible. So, why don’t you?

For the most part it is because you don’t have the space to do so. Schools currently trying to improve for Ofsted are more likely to specify how they would like classrooms arranged.

Seven per cent of teachers from RI/inadequate schools reported their school or department required them to adhere to a desk arrangement policy, compared to 4% for one that is either good or outstanding.


For more snappy insights like this, and to be part of the panel, please join in via the free Teacher Tapp app – available to download for iOS and Android. You will learn something new every day.


Laura McInerney is an education journalist and co-founder of Teacher Tapp. Download the app for free via the App Store on Apple and Android. Follow her on Twitter at @miss_mcinerney.

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