England’s teachers worse off in OECD comparison

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Heads and teachers leaders have seized upon an international study into teaching and learning to highlight what they claim is the coalition’s poor handling of the education system since 2010.

The OECD Teacher and Learning International Survey (TALIS), which examines the working lives of 100,000 teachers and heads in 34 countries, found a huge cultural gap in attitudes towards the job around the world.

The study found that teachers in England were expected to do more administration than their contemporaries in other countries, and that performance management had a compliant, rather than developmental, approach which was enjoyed by staff abroad.

Finland was the only country in Europe where a majority of teachers were confident in the status of their job. In England, just 35 per cent of teachers felt valued. Teachers felt better appreciated in Malaysia, South Korea and Singapore.

Teachers in England are also working some of the longest hours – 46 hours a week during term-time – much higher than the international average of 38 hours. Only Singapore and Japan worked longer hours, 48 and 54 respectively. At the other end of the spectrum, staff in Italy are working 29 hours a week, and in Finland, 32 hours.

The survey also found that schools in England lose less time in lessons due to poor pupil behaviour. Teachers reported that about 11 per cent of lesson time was lost due to disruption, compared with 13 per cent in Finland and 18 per cent in Singapore. The best behaved pupils were in Poland, where only eight per cent of lesson time was lost.

Russell Hobby, general secretary of the National Association of Head Teachers, said: “Teachers in England work harder than teachers in other countries. They are also asked to do more administration – despite four years of a government pledged to reducing bureaucracy.

“The all-pervasive effects of high stakes accountability can be felt here. Ironically, given the importance of teacher quality, our system may be limiting standards rather than raising them. It is certainly the case that a large number of headteachers see government policy as part of the problem not part of the solution.”

Chris Keates, general secretary of the NASUWT, said the report “demonstrates the detrimental impact of reforms upon teachers and ultimately on children and young people”.

She continued: “The survey’s findings that teachers feel they are far less valued in society, confirms what (our) members have been saying and is illustrated by the fact that record numbers of teachers have seriously considered leaving the profession in the last 12 months.”

Christine Blower, general secretary of the National Union of Teachers, added: “The message to government from this survey is clear: teachers’ workloads are unmanageable and unsustainable and teachers feel undervalued for the challenging job they do.

“This is an issue that concerns everyone. Our children deserve enthusiastic, energetic teachers, not overworked and stressed ones. It is high time the government addressed these pressing matters. Failure to do so will lead, without a doubt, to further teacher shortages.”

 


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