How much do we respect our teachers?

3rd October 2013

A new report out today places the UK around the middle of its league table for teacher status around the world. The 2013 Global Teacher Status Index report by the Varkey Gems Foundation is based on the responses of a balanced sample of 1000 people in each of 21 countries. It explores questions such as:

  • 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

Interesting points included:

  • Status rankings do not mirror countries’ PISA ranking (or pay) and Finland does surprisingly badly (I can’t decide whether this tells us something about Finland or the research methodology/index).overall_graph(Pg.  14 of the report)
  • People in the UK are more likely to think that unions have too little influence on pay and conditions (just over 40% of people), than too much (just under 30% of people).

union_influence(Graph from pg.  27 of the report)

This seems to tally with teachers’ own feelings about unions: LKMco’s research on teaching unions (commissioned by edaptshowed that ‘Collective Bargaining on Pay and Conditions’ was the third most important reason why teachers’ joined unions.

reasons_for_joining(‘Collectivists, Functionalists and Critics: What do Teachers Think of their Unions?’ Pg. 12)

  • When asked to compare the status of teachers to 12 other jobs (Head teacher, Doctor, Nurse, Librarian, Local government manager, Social worker, Website designer, Policeman, Engineer, Lawyer, Accountant, Management consultant) people in the UK were most likely to say “nurse” or “social-worker”. This ranks them around half way up this hierarchy.
  • The UK was the country in which Head Teachers were seen as having the highest status.
  • 47% of people in the UK  agreed or strongly agreed that pupils respected teachers, this places the UK just below average. S.Korea’s score is quite striking given its reputation as a high performing country.

respect_for_teachers(My graph)

  • On average, people in the UK thought teachers should be paid 3% more than they actually are. On average they over-estimated the actual wage teachers are currently paid.
  • Countries that have good PISA scores are most systematically ranked as good by the public. This may show that people are ‘accurately’ judging the quality of their education system (as measured by PISA) or that they have accurately remembered their countries’ PISA results.

You can download the full report here