What Do The British Public Think About Teachers?

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What is the status of teachers in the United Kingdom?

The Global Teacher Status Index (GTSI) is based on in-depth opinion by Populus in 35 countries that explores the attitudes on issues ranging from what is a fair salary for teachers; whether they think pupils respect teachers; and how highly people rank their own education system.

Cherry-Picking Politicians

We will be familiar with politicians cherry-picking evidence (that suits their narrative) on student assessment measures, such as the Programme for International Student Assessment (PISA), and the annual publication of the OECDs reports which provides a global perspective of how children perform on comparable educational tests across many countries. Do we believe London has the best school in the world?

What is less well understood, are discussions of the roles of the teacher in improving pupil outcomes; social standing; status and how these are a factor in the position of teachers in each country. How might these (indicators) impact on education systems and pupil results?

The last time I wrote about this research was in 2014. I write here to offer a comparison and keep readers in the loop with international research on the views of our profession.

Key Findings

  1. British teachers surveyed say they are working longer hours per week (50.9) than anywhere else surveyed in the world apart from New Zealand, Singapore and Chile.
  2. The UK ranks 13th in the GTSI out of 35 countries surveyed in 2018.
  3. Teachers earn around £5,000 less than what the British public think. Respondents on average estimated that the salary of a starting secondary school teacher is around £29,000, it is actually much lower – around £24,000. The British public do not believe this is fair.
  4. Fewer British parents would encourage their child to become a teacher now (23%) than in 2013, when 26% said they would definitely or probably encourage them.
  5. The UK is one of only 8 countries polled in both 2013 and 2018 in which fewer people would encourage their children to become teachers now than 5 years ago.
  6. Despite holding teachers in higher regard than most other countries, less than a quarter (23%) of British people would encourage their child to become a teacher
  7. Around a quarter of UK respondents (26%) said the most comparable profession to teachers are social workers.
  8. Support for performance related pay for teachers in the UK has fallen massively. In 2013 almost three-quarters (74%) agreed with the notion that teachers should be rewarded in pay according to their pupils’ results compared to only around a third (34%) now.
  9. The British public are far more likely to think pupils disrespect their teachers than respect them. Only a quarter (26%) of British people think pupils respect their teachers, while 46% do not.
  10. British people ranked secondary school teachers and primary school teachers higher than respondents in any other major European economy.

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You can read the full report which offers a full analysis of all 35 countries. In this post, I feature UK data only.

@TeacherToolkit

In 2010, Ross Morrison McGill founded @TeacherToolkit from a simple Twitter account in which he rapidly became the 'most followed teacher on social media in the UK'. In 2015, he was nominated for '500 Most Influential People in Britain' in The Sunday Times as one of the most influential in the field of education - he remains the only classroom teacher to feature to this day ... Sharing online as @TeacherToolkit, he rebuilt this website (c2008) into what you are now reading, as one of the 'most influential blogs on education in the UK', winning the number one spot at the UK Blog Awards (2018). Today, he is currently a PGCE tutor and is researching 'social media and its influence on education policy' for his EdD at Cambridge University. In 1993, he started teaching and is an experienced school leader working in some of the toughest schools in London. He is also a former Teaching Awards winner for 'Teacher of the Year in a Secondary School, London' (2004) and has written several books on teaching (2013-2018). Read more...

2 thoughts on “What Do The British Public Think About Teachers?

  • 19th November 2018 at 5:53 pm
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    The change in the proportion of people who think teachers should be “rewarded in pay according to their pupils’ results” is totally mind-blowing. 74% down to 33% between 2013 and 2018. And that’s not just in the UK, there is a huge drop in most countries in the survey. In Finland, ~80% agreed performance related pay was a good idea in 2013. Now just ~20% do.

    I wonder if other countries tried introducing PRP around the same time as the UK, and discovered it didn’t work so well in practice?

    Reply
    • 20th November 2018 at 11:19 am
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      Re. PRP – it’s a really good question – especially Finland. I’ve noticed some on Twitter are moving away from it. I suspect individual binary targets will soon go too.

      Reply

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