Most teachers 'feel undervalued'

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Teacher with Students

The vast majority of teachers in England feel undervalued by society, according to international research.

It also shows that the nation's teachers work more hours on average than those in other countries, while most of their time in lessons is spent teaching rather than on admin tasks and keeping order in the classroom.

The latest TALIS report (teacher and learning international survey) report reveals that overall, just over a third (35%) of secondary teachers in England think that their profession is valued by society.
This is slightly higher than the OECD average of 30.9%.

The findings show that in the majority of the 34 countries and economies that took part in TALIS, even fewer teachers feel that their profession is valued by the public, although teachers in the most high-performing nations, such as Singapore and Korea are more positive.

It goes on to suggest that younger teachers in England are more positivel about how their profession is seen by society.

The latest TALIS report, published by the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD), examined the views of secondary school teachers on issues such as their learning environment and working conditions.

It shows that teachers in England report working 45.9 hours on average during the most recent calendar week, compared to the OECD average of 38.3 hours.

Teachers in many other nations report working fewer hours a week than those in England, such as Finland (31.6 hours), France (36.5 hours) and Italy (29.4 hours), although those in Japan (53.9 hours), Singapore (47.6 hours) and Alberta in Canada (48.2 hours) say they work more.

A national report looking at England's performance in TALIS, by researchers at the Institute of Education (IoE) in London, notes that on average, most class time in England is spent on teaching and learning - around 82%. Around 11% is spent maintaining discipline in the classroom and 7% is spent on administrative tasks.

The IoE report concludes that the situation in England compares "quite favourably" to other countries.

"Although a non-trivial amount of class time is on average dedicated to non-teaching related activities in England, the same is true in other countries and if anything the loss is somewhat larger in most of them."

The TALIS findings also show that 66.5% of teachers in England who took part in the survey said that they work in a school where more than 10% of students have special needs, compared to an OECD average of 25.5%.

And 24.4% of England's teachers said that they work in a school where more than 30% of pupils are from disadvantaged homes, compared to an OECD average of 19.6%.

Pamela Sammons, professor of education, at Oxford University, said: "This report finds only a minority believe teaching is a valued profession in their country and this should worry policy makers, given the importance of teachers in preparing children and young people for their future lives as productive and engaged citizens.

Dr Mary Bousted, general secretary of the Association of Teachers and Lecturers (ATL), said: "We are unsurprised by the deeply disturbing findings that only a third of teachers believe teaching is valued as a profession.

"In England teachers' working lives are dominated by bureaucracy and form filling and school leaders are not empowered to do what they know is best for their pupils, but what they think Ofsted will expect and demand. The OECD, however, says that in the top performing education systems, schools are democratic places for teachers to work."

A spokeswoman for England's Department for Education said: "There has never been a better time to be a teacher - and there have never been more teachers in England's classrooms, with a rise of 9,000 in the last year.

"We are incredibly fortunate to have many thousands of dedicated, hard-working teachers, committed to teaching excellence. Teaching is now one of the most attractive career paths for graduates, with a record number of top graduates now joining the profession."

Shadow education secretary Tristram Hunt said: "This report is more evidence that raising teacher quality improves children's learning.

"That's why it's so shocking that David Cameron and Michael Gove have lowered the bar, changing the rules to allow unqualified teachers into our classrooms on a permanent basis. They are damaging standards in our schools."

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