Survey: Teachers’ Biggest Complaint is Feeling Undervalued

A new report from the global Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD) reveals that teachers around the world believe they are not valued by society.

The belief is especially true in Europe, where as few as 4.9% of French teachers believe their work is valued by French society. The number just a tick higher – 5.0% – in Sweden.

The OECD's Teaching and Learning International Survey (TALIS) was first administered in 2008 and repeated in 2013. Thirty-four countries, including the UK and the US, participate ind the survey – which totaled more than 100,000 education professionals.

Worldwide, 30.9% of teachers surveyed believe that the teaching profession is valued in society. That number is slightly higher in the US (33.7%) and in the UK (35.4%).

Michael Davidson, head of the OECD school division, said the figures were shocking, and that such numbers would lead the best candidates to different professions:

"It's logical that if teachers don't feel valued it's less likely you are going to get the best [graduates] coming into teaching," Davidson said, according to an article by Helen Warrell of The Financial Times.. "It's about being treated as professionals collaboratively in the running of the school, collaboratively engaged in activities such as professional development … the countries that we see engaging in those activities are likely to be higher in the rankings."

According to the survey, Malaysia values its teachers the best, getting an 83.8% positive rating.

Despite feelings of not being appreciated, the survey also shows that job satisfaction rate is very high among teachers and principals. The TALIS average for job satisfaction from the survey was 91.1% for teachers and 95.6% for principals.

Teaching remains a universally-female dominated industry, according to the survey. Only one country that participated, Japan, had less than 50% of its teachers being female – just 39%. It should be noted that China did not participate in the survey.

The rate of female teachers was highest in Central Europe, where women make up 88.7% of the workforce in Latvia and 84.5% in Estonia. In the US, that figure is 64.4% and 63.2% in the UK.

Almost as prodigious a gap as the value issue is the extremes in the appraisal system. For instance, in Spain, 61.5% of teachers said they had never been formally appraised by their school principal, and 71.3% said they had never been appraised by any other member of the school's management team.

Meanwhile, in Singapore, which got top marks across the survey, just 0.6% of teachers reported they had never been appraised by a principal.

Fred van Leeuwen, general secretary of the global teaching union federation Education International, told TES News that the report "paints a remarkable picture of the realities of formal appraisal", and called for a "radical review" of current processes.

"While teachers welcome constructive feedback which enhances their teaching and believe that appraisal is at its most positive when it leads to high quality and relevant professional development, the finding that teachers believe overall systems of appraisal are not working well is very significant," he said.

"It places a major question mark over why such schemes have been established in the first place. If teachers don't believe appraisal is working well it won't be effective."

07 3, 2014
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