Today the OECD publishes their latest TALIS report. (Teaching and Learning International Study) This report is about teachers and school leaders as lifelong learners. In addition to the full report, there are digests of the evidence from particular countries produced as separate country reports. It is important to note that the country report is headed England (UK). I assume that it is just schools in England included. This is important since education is a devolved activity.
When reading the report it is also of importance to start from the end and to note that the response rate from teachers and school leaders in England was generally only regarded as ‘fair’. Indeed, in some aspects the response wasn’t very far above the level regarded as too low to use in the survey. The other caveat, as far as I am concerned, is around the term ‘lower secondary’. This is not a discrete phase in England except in Central Bedfordshire, Northumberland and a few other towns around the country where 9-13 middle schools still exist, and, of course, in the independent sector where many ‘prep’ schools can be regarded as partly covering the lower secondary age range. This may especially affect views on the nature of principals as, presumably most replying from the state sector in England were head teachers of secondary schools.
Almost all secondary teachers are trained through the post-degree professional training route, whether that training is in universities, SCITTs or schools. That is not the model throughout much of the OECD, where teacher preparation often still occurs alongside the acquisition of subject knowledge.
What is interesting is the relatively small degree of change recorded on a number of the items between the 2013 and 2018 TALIS studies, at least as far as England is concerned.
As the retirement boom of the first decade of this century fades into history, it is clear that the teaching force in England is generally younger than in many OECD countries. There is a slightly higher proportion of men in the workforce than across the OECD at 36% compared to 34% as the OECD average, but fewer women are principals – 41% against the OECD average of 47%. As a result of the age profile, the average length of service of a teacher in England is 13 years, compared to the OECD average of 17 years and more than 20 years in the small Baltic States.
Length of service is important in how it can affect attitudes to professional development. Older more experienced teachers may take a different attitude to professional development than that of teachers in the first few years of their careers; I dislike the TALIS term of ‘novice teacher’.
The BBC have chosen to highlight the issue of cyber-bullying and the fact that head teachers in England are more likely to face problems with pupils bullying online and misusing social media than in any other developed country. However, there seems to have been little change in classroom behaviour faced by teachers in England between the 2013 and 2018 studies.
Finally, although teachers saw the need for more funding and resources, the response of teachers to increasing their salaries was below the OECD average. This is despite teachers in England not being as well paid as those in many other OECD countries.