The end of the school year seems like a good time for a not-completely-serious retrospective. So as the rest of the country heads to the garden or the beach, we've found our R&R in the Twitter API. Never let it be said that we don't know how to have a good time. :)
The figure below shows a word cloud of terms derived from several hundred thousand tweets mentioning schools that were posted from the locations in the British Isles over the last year or so. It provides a month-by-month breakdown, showing words that tended to crop up more often in any given month relative to other times of year. For more detail on the methods used, see Footnote 1.
What are you Twittering on about?
During July 2017, the emphasis was, naturally enough, on holidays, end-of-year events and sports – though amid the celebratory messages was an undercurrent of comments about school funding. By August, attention had already switched to exam results and uniform purchases, ready for the return to school in September (including for a certain young prince). How quickly summer fades.
No sooner had schools reopened than, come October, there was considerable talk about them closing again. This was for a variety reasons: half-term was certainly one, though there was also the arrival of the storm formerly known as Hurricane Ophelia. In November, Bonfire Night, Remembrance Day and BBC Children In Need featured heavily, as did the government's autumn budget. Come December, what else was there to talk about apart from Christmas, snow, school closures and, erm, bullying? Perhaps it was just as well that the calendar year was coming to a close.
Figure 1: Frequently used words in tweets mentioning schools
Sources: Twitter; SchoolDash analysis.
In January we were back, but the year hardly got off to an auspicious start, with Carillion, asbestos and Toby Young all hitting the news. February was considerably worse, with a tragic mass shooting in the US and snow-induced gridlock in the UK. The cold snap extended into March. Spring – and Easter – finally arrived in April, but with the green shoots came a rise in discussions about poverty and (you guessed it) school cuts, though in May new funding for grammar schools hit the news. There was also yet another US school shooting and a certain Anglo-American couple got married.
In June, summer officially returned – it said so on Twitter. But the bad news continued, with a huge fire at the Glasgow School of Art (admittedly not the sort of school we usually write about, but a significant educational story all the same). Beyond that, everyone was talking about the World Cup and Love Island. (What have they got to do with schools? Search us.) Then in July we came full circle – albeit a year older and hopefully wiser. Though football didn't come home, kids and teachers certainly did, in their thousands. Have a wonderful summer!
We analysed approximately 343,000 tweets posted between 1st July 2017 and 31st July 2018 that mentioned 'school' or 'schools' and were geotagged as having come from within or close to England. About a dozen Twitter accounts that posted prolifically on uninteresting topics (eg, commercial promotions) were excluded, as was a list of about 200 uninformative 'stop words' (eg, prepositions and month names).