16th August 2019 by Timo Hannay [link]
Last August, eager for something suitably trivial to ease us into summer, we looked back at the school year on Twitter. This year we offer an update to that analysis – perhaps putting these posts at risk of becoming a SchoolDash tradition. Even so, don't take too seriously any of what follows...
Our last review looked at seasonal trends in tweets about schools (highlighting topics that tended to appear in some months but not others). This time we'll look at year-on-year changes (ie, terms that appeared more often this year than in the corresponding month last year)1.
The figure below shows a word cloud of terms for each month from July 2018 to July 2019. Last July there was much talk of charity fundraising, stiflingly hot weather and the football World Cup, which perhaps makes it unsurprising that the two most characteristic words of the month were 'amazing' and 'effort'.
The educationally quiet month of August was dominated by schooltime reminiscences provoked by the death of Barry Chuckle, along with comments on violent school-related incidents in Yemen and Bangladesh. With the return to class in September, homework and exclusions loomed large, as did discussions about a Panorama programme on academies and (if you look carefully) a segment on This Morning about whether masturbation is a suitable topic for the classroom.
Moving swiftly on...
By October, money and school budgets were becoming the talk of Twitter, and in November Anti-Bullying Week led to an uptick in discussions of that perennial topic.
The feel-good factor returned in December when Flakefleet Primary School made a bid for their song to become the Christmas number one (under the hashtag #daretodream). Even if it wasn't a white Christmas, come January there were plenty of snow-related tweets, along with much debate about the contents of the curriculum and a campaign to provide free menstrual products to girls on free school meals.
In the midst of February's chills, Greta Thunberg's climate strike created sparks, as did the BBC's time-travelling programme on the history of education, Back in Time for School. March brought a row about the teaching of LGBT topics, centred on Parkfield Primary School, and talk of a rise in knife crime.
By April, protests about climate change and LGBT lessons were put in the shade by the arrival of the Easter holiday only to return again in May, accompanied by coverage of the ESFA Cup Final.
Much of this continued into June, along with discussion about public schools and public education (which, thanks to our curiously inconsistent language, have almost opposite meanings). By July, independent educational establishments were being referred to slightly less confusingly as 'private schools' – amid calls from within the Labour Party for them to be abolished. Meanwhile in the state sector, there were demands for investigations into bullying and asbestos.
And on that suitably febrile note, our country's schools dismissed their charges into a record-breakingly hot summer. What online chatter will the new school year bring? To find out, see you again this time next year.
This is the SchoolDash blog, where we write about some of our projects and other things that spark our interest.
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