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Home Schooling, Sum Problems...

Home-School is officially out for summer – and there is no one more relieved than Plus Four’s Field Manager Matt Faulkner! Along with a huge number of parents up and down the country, Matt has a newfound appreciation for the those in the teaching profession…

So, when my 7-year-old Daughter presented her Maths work to do at home during lockdown, I thought “this will be a doddle!” …Oh, how wrong was I?

Granted it has been a few years since I was at school, and Maths was not my best subject, but I still proudly achieved a B at GCSE. So naturally I thought I might be a bit rusty, however I soon realised that even a vat of WD40 wouldn’t have sorted me out!

I was all set to for us to recite times tables together and stick gold stars on a wall chart… but it appears the national curriculum has been given somewhat of a shake up, or more like a complete head to toe make over, and it speaks a completely new language… words like ‘associative property’, ‘bus stop method’, ‘number bonds’, ‘numerator’ to name a few – a whole new lingo to me rather than bog standard Maths (I was relieved to find out that times tables are still the same!).

I, like many parents during this strange time, have had to try and become fully versed teachers, and I, (hopefully like many others!), have really found it a challenge.


To be bluntly honest I guess I have always found it quite easy to apply patience at work. Patience has definitely been a virtue when I think about the hundreds of help-desk calls I have taken at all hours of the day and night from fieldworkers with a different mix of ages, tech savviness and personalities, when in effect I was the teacher. In my role of field manager I am confident and experienced – and I guess I have the power of the knowledge (although one lady did get quite annoyed with me one day when I couldn’t tell her what HER home Wi-Fi code was – but I guess you can’t win them all!). They ask me questions that I can answer, about situations I have come across before… I’m in my comfort zone and I love it.

The contrast between that and the home schooling is I didn’t always know the answer! Or more precisely, the way to get to the answer, because so much has changed with the way things are done. I knew how I would answer it, but it seemed the wrong way to do it!

I was, at 39, suddenly ancient, old school, old money! It was something akin to me still trying to sail from London to New York thinking it was the quickest way whilst 21st century Maths was getting onboard a Concorde (oops, that shows my age too!) – OK a Boeing 787 Dreamliner.

I am certainly not averse to change – you can throw new research methodologies at me to recruit for and I’ll thrive on the challenge. Luckily, I am not quite at the point where my age means I believe my way is the only way, otherwise we would have just gone round in circles!

The plus side is of course I have had a lot of time with my Daughter and have found that she really is quite the comedian… even suggesting her Mum is a better Teacher than me!

As adults we have struggled to get used to the new measures and the restrictions put in place but for the children it could be argued that it is even more challenging. Missing key lessons in their formative years, missing out on those memories and building on those friendships at school. Having to switch from the warm but rigid learning environment of the classroom to at home with all the possible distractions. I fear it will take them a while to get back into the swing of it - like all of us.

I won’t lie, I have felt a massive weight of responsibility in ensuring I keep my children up-to-date for fear of falling behind, however I am really conscious of the fact I am not a Teacher – I’m a Field Manager (and it’s been said a good one!), and I can recruit the very best people for companies and brands to gain insight, but teachers study for years in order to gain the insights and knowledge to teach a mix of subjects to a mix of ability children. In the same way I keep up to date with the developments in the MR industry, they are fully versed in the new ways of doing things. I’ve no doubt that they can inject more fun into their teaching than I could in my mad panic mode - worried that we’d miss the 4pm deadline (work deadlines have never caused me that much stress!).

Have I coped well? I have done my best and I guess that is all you can do. Put it this way, I won’t be changing careers to teaching anytime soon, suddenly despite that 6 weeks Summer Holiday break that everyone envies teachers for, the career doesn’t look so inviting – but I’m VERY relieved that ‘home schooling’ is out for the summer, and that I can go back to being a Field Manager!

Plus Four have already returned to offline groups at The Qualitative Lab and we are now busy planning a return to F2F for our nationwide field force. Meanwhile, The Analysis Solution (quant) and The Qualitative Centre have continued to work online throughout the last quarter. if you would like to discuss your potential F2F projects with The Field Division or would like recruitment-only help with your research projects – both offline and online - contact info@plus4.co.uk


By Matt Faulkner Summer 2020

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