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TALIS 2018: Valuing teachers and school leaders as professionals

Long reads
Authors: Rebecca Vukovic
TALIS 2018: Valuing teachers and school leaders as professionals

Nine out of 10 teachers from OECD countries and economies are satisfied with their job, but only 26 per cent of them think the work they do is valued by society, according to the latest figures to come from the Teaching and Learning International Survey (TALIS) report released overnight.

TALIS 2018 Results (Volume II) Teachers and School Leaders as Valued Professionals, sheds light on teachers’ and school leaders’ working conditions, along with their reported satisfaction levels and work-related wellbeing.

The first volume of TALIS 2018, Teachers and School Leaders as Lifelong Learners, showed that across all participating countries and economies, there is a highly motivated workforce that places the chance to influence child development and serve underprivileged children at the top of their reasons for becoming a teacher.

Director for Education and Skills at the OECD, Andreas Schleicher, says the notion of professional teachers and school leaders is not a static one, and is continuously evolving to address the challenges that emerge in 21st Century education.

‘Teachers and school leaders are increasingly expected to perform new tasks, such as nurturing the development of students’ social and emotional skills and responding to students’ individual learning needs,’ he says. ‘Teaching in today’s world requires a new, uniquely modern kind of professionalism.’

TALIS 2018 is the fourth time the survey has been conducted and this iteration brings the total number of participants to 48 countries and economies.

Societal views of the teaching profession

Understanding teachers and school leaders as professionals means having high expectations of them as advanced knowledge workers, the report says. After all, the prestige of a career can impact the kinds of candidates that enter the profession and the job satisfaction they experience once they’re there.

On average across the OECD, 26 per cent of teachers aged 50 and above believe that their profession is valued in society, compared to 29 per cent of teachers under the age of 30.

Despite this, the majority of teachers in OECD countries and economies in TALIS (91 per cent) do not regret becoming a teacher. The survey found 14 per cent of teachers aged 50 years or less express a desire to leave teaching within the next five years, which is well before they reach retirement age. According to the report, much of this could be attributed to stress at work – 18 per cent of teachers said they experience a lot of stress in their work.

The main reported causes of stress include having too much administrative work, being held responsible for students’ achievement and keeping up with changing requirements from government authorities.

On average across the OECD, more than 80 per cent of teachers and school leaders feel satisfied with their current working conditions, and over 60 per cent of them feel satisfied with their profession in general. Only 20 per cent of teachers in OECD countries and economies in TALIS would like to change to another school if given the chance. 

Teacher employment contracts and salaries

TALIS 2018 shows that most teachers in OECD countries and economies are employed on permanent contracts, with 18 per cent reporting that their employment contract is temporary. This figure jumps to 48 per cent for teachers under the age of 30.

Around 20 per cent of teachers report that they work part-time, with a higher proportion among female teachers, younger teachers and teachers working in privately managed schools.

Teachers working on a fixed-term contract of less than one year tend to feel less confident in their teaching in about one-third of the TALIS countries and economies with available data. The same is true for teachers working part-time.

The report says 39 per cent of teachers and 47 per cent of principals are satisfied with the salary they receive for work, though satisfaction with salary is higher in privately managed schools, especially for principals. In addition to salary – job security, part-time work and other employment arrangements (for example, working in multiple schools) affect the attractiveness of teaching jobs.

On the topic of professional development, teachers who receive support for their continuous professional learning tend to be more satisfied with their terms of employment.

Working together as professionals

Professional collaboration is associated with higher job satisfaction and teacher self-efficacy. According to the report, collaboration in teaching often takes the form of team teaching, classroom observations and engaging in joint activities across classes. It could also be collaboration-based professional development.

An average of 81 per cent of teachers across the OECD report that they work in a collaborative school culture that prioritises mutual support, and 87 per cent of teachers agree that teachers in their school can rely on each other.

Almost two-thirds (61 per cent) of teachers in OECD countries report discussing the development of specific students with colleagues, and 47 per cent say they exchange teaching materials with colleagues.

On the topic of feedback, 71 per cent of teachers who have received feedback found it useful for their teaching practice. Compared to older and more experienced teachers, a significantly higher share (9 percentage points) of novice teachers and younger teachers report that the feedback they received had a positive impact on their teaching practice.

Of the teachers who say that they received feedback, an average of 55 per cent report that such feedback was particularly useful for improving their pedagogical competencies in teaching their subject.

In all countries and economies participating in TALIS, teachers who report receiving multiple different forms of feedback are more likely to find that the feedback they received had a positive impact on their teaching practice.

Decision-making and autonomy

Over 90 per cent of teachers reported that it is up to them to select teaching methods, assess students’ learning, discipline students and set the amount of homework to assign. When it comes to determining the overall course content, 84 per cent of teachers report having control over this.

On average across OECD countries, only 14 per cent of teachers believe that policy makers in their country or region value their view, and only 24 per cent of teachers believe that they can influence education policy.

When it comes to decision-making processes at school, 56 per cent of principals report that teachers have a role in the school management team. In addition, only 42 per cent of principals say that their teachers have a significant responsibility over a large share of tasks related to school policies, curriculum and instruction. However, more than half of principals report that teachers do have a significant level of responsibility in choosing learning materials and determining course content.

Budget allocation is still managed by individual schools, with 68 per cent of principals reporting that they have significant responsibility in this area. More than 90 per cent of principals say their teachers take responsibility over the school’s academic climate and improving their students’ academic outcomes.

To access the full report, TALIS 2018 Results (Volume II) Teachers and School Leaders as Valued Professionals, visit the website.

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