What is the perception of British teachers?
I’ve been reading up on the Varkey Gems Foundation, the Global Teacher Status index; which is the world’s first comprehensive attempt to compare the status of teachers across the world. VGs personal mission is set very high: ‘to deliver teacher training programmes around the world and raise the standard of education globally’. It is worth a peripheral once over.
This report was published in October 2013 and this post has been stuck behind the front-page of my website; hiding away in many ‘draft’ blogposts. So, apologies for pushing out such old-news; and with such information, you may well have already read the details; forgotten the report; couldn’t care less; or even knew nothing about it!
- Why would/should we read such a report?
- And why am I so interested?
Well, firstly it is a challenge for most practising teachers, to fully get to grips with any educational system they work within. Academic theory or practical pedagogy. It is a full-time job, keeping up with research and publication. It’s an even harder challenge for teachers to read beyond the publicised headlines of countries that border us; and understand their curriculum’s too; and those further afield from our UK system (Finland, South Korea and Singapore) that have been leading on education and educational standards across the world …
I currently have (sponsored) funding possibilities available to be able to travel and go-and-see other educational systems around the world; but given the current focus in my life, I do not feel it is the time to go off on various academic adventures (yet).
So, why read up?
Apart from visiting schools in other countries, digging beyond the published headlines one can read on media-platforms; reading up on detailed 60-page reports is (only) what most of us can do. Varkey provides (yet) another in-depth report, based on opinion from 21,000 people; surveyed in 21 countries (1,000 people each).
Here, the role of teacher status has been studied in-depth. Previously, I have blogged about the OECD: Programme for International Student Assessment PISA rankings; which, despite its criticism, is very useful reading to gather a picture of comparative student assessment measures and education around the world. I know these types of rankings have a context; so when reading Varkey’s statistics, you must also do the same.
Only 21 countries have been included in the data. These countries were: Brazil; China; Czech Republic; Egypt; Finland; France; Germany; Greece; Israel; Italy; Japan; the Netherlands; New Zealand; Portugal; Turkey; Singapore; South Korea; Spain; Switzerland; UK; and the United States (US).
The study explores the attitudes on issues ranging from:
- what is a fair salary for teachers;
- to whether they think pupils respect teachers to how highly people rank their own education system.
What does the Varkey report say?
Well, if you are pushed for time; there is a lovely visual summary here.
Varkey Gems states: “what is not as well understood, are the roles cultural, political and economic factors and social standing play in the position of teachers in each country, and how these might impact on education systems.‘ The questions asked, consist of:
- How teachers are respected in relation to other professions?
- The social standing of teachers?
- Whether parents would encourage their children to be teachers?
- Whether it is perceived that children respect their teachers?
- What people think teachers ought to be paid?
- Whether people think teachers ought to be paid according to the performance of their pupils?
- The degree to which people trust their education system?
- How much teachers are trusted to deliver a good education to our children?
- Whether teachers unions have too much power?
There is much to say and I have included the UKs synopsis below. The data proves a very interesting read and provides an alternative dataset to OECD. Lord Adonis provides commentary in the full report (page 9) and says: “No education system can be better than its teachers.”
You can download the full report here: Varkey Gems.