#068 Becky Allen: Workload, happiness, expertise, progress, pupil premium

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On this episode of the Mr Barton Maths Podcast, I spoke to Professor Becky Allen.

Becky is Professor of Education at UCL Institute of Education. From 2014-2017 Becky took a period of leave from her academic post to launch a highly successful independent research organisation called Education Datalab. And in 2017 she launched an experimental teacher survey and engagement tool called Teacher Tapp, with Laura McInerney and Alex Weatherall. Perhaps most importantly of all, like me Becky is a closet economist and self-confessed lover of all things statistical. It’s about time we had one on the show.

So, in a wide-ranging conversation, Becky and I discussed the following things, and plenty more besides:

  • What is TeacherTapp, and what have been some of the most surprising and important results?
  • What impact to “good” teachers make, and how on earth do we tell a good teacher from a not so good one?
  • Why do teachers leave the profession? Is it as straightforward as workload and behaviour, or is it more complicated?
  • How important is teacher experience?
  • How do teachers find “good” schools to apply to?
  • If autonomy is motivating, how does this fit in with a move by some “successful” schools, such as Michaela, to provide centrally created lesson plans to their teachers?
  • Is teaching suited to deliberate practice?
  • How many hours do teachers work and how that time is spent?
  • How happy are teachers?
  • Why is it so hard to accurately measure student progress, and what mistakes does Becky see schools making?
  • How should schools really be dealing with the Pupil Premium gap?
  • And then Becky reflects on the piece of research that most surprised her… and it certainly surprised me to

Not only do I think this is a great interview – not because of anything I did, but because Becky is such a super guest – but I also think it is an important one. We tackle some really big issues, confronting some of the immense challenges facing the profession we love, such as retention, workload, recruitment, behaviour, well-being, happiness, and so on, but also offering potential ways forward. I know this will be a conversation I return to again and again, and I really hope you feel the same way too.

Usual two plugs before we get cracking. If you are interested in reading about 12 years of horrendous maths teaching mistakes, and what I have done differently since, then you might enjoy my book How I wish I’d taught maths. And if you enjoy these podcasts, can I ask you to do me two little favours: leave a quick review on iTunes – it helps other people find the show – and introduce the podcast to a colleague, maybe by directing them towards your favourite episode. It just helps the audience continue to grow. Thanks so much for your time, I really do appreciate it.

Becky Allen’s Big 3:
1. Data Camp
2. Office for National Statistics
3. TeacherTapp

On Twitter Becky is @profbeckyallen
Becky’s website is rebeccaallen.co.uk

Becky’s book, The Teacher Gap, is available from Amazon here
Becky’s Radio 4 documentary about the Pupil Premium is available here

My usual plugs:

Thanks so much for listening, and I really hope you enjoy the show!
Craig Barton


One thought on “#068 Becky Allen: Workload, happiness, expertise, progress, pupil premium

  1. Thank you, I thoroughly enjoyed listening to this podcast, I was wondering if you had the details for the research that Becky mentions with the US/China comparison please? [being paid for taking a test and how the students in China performed exactly the same but the offer of money made a difference to the US students.]
    Thanks so much and keep up the good work!

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