OECD’s latest TALIS survey supports teachers and their profession

published 23 March 2020 updated 24 March 2020

Volume II of The Teaching and Learning International Survey (TALIS) 2018 was released by the OECD today, 23 March 2020. Having contributed to the development of the survey, EI welcomes the findings and views them as a solid basis for discussions between education trade unions and policy makers.

This extensive survey explores the theme of “Teachers and School Leaders as Valued Professionals”, with specific attention given to boosting the prestige and standing of the profession (chapter 2),  providing teachers and school leaders with secure, flexible and rewarding jobs (chapter 3); fostering collaboration to improve professionalism (chapter 4); empowering teachers and school leaders (chapter 5). The launch also features a teachers’ guide that covers the main points of the report.

In his forward, Andreas Schleicher, Director for the Directorate for Education and Skills, outlines some key elements of being a professional. He writes:

“A ‘professional’ is someone who is able to use their expertise to make decisions about their work, who has the autonomy to act on those decisions, and who contributes to the body of professional knowledge. Such decisions and actions are grounded in a specialised set of knowledge and skills, stemming from both quality training and from the constant collaboration with peers and other stakeholders. For teachers and school leaders, professionalism means not only conducting their work in an effective manner, but working to improve their skills, collaborating with colleagues and parents, and thinking creatively about the challenges they face.”

Main findings

Although the overall average of teacher satisfaction is very positive at 90 per cent, the results vary considerably by country.

For the first time, TALIS asked teachers about stress, thanks largely to Education International input. Specifically, as a result of Education International efforts, two question scales were inserted into TALIS which focussed on the sources and levels of stress faced by teachers. The report finds that “acute stress at work is also strongly associated with teachers’ job satisfaction and their intention to continue teaching: 18% of teachers report experiencing a lot of stress in their work, and 49% report that having too much administrative work is one of the main sources of stress.”

Areas of consensus among teachers include the perception that salaries are too low. They also feel that the work of teachers is undervalued by society. In most countries, teachers feel that their views are not valued by policy makers, however, many feel that they can, nevertheless, influence policy. The report suggests this may be because teachers exert influence through their trade unions.

Education International and its interventions through the OECD Trade Union Advisory Committee Working Group on Education and Skills, have been, according to the report itself, “very important in the development and implementation of TALIS.’ In addition to the inclusion of the stress factor, Education International also called for the exploration of the issue of teacher collaboration and leadership which Chapters 4 and 5 cover.

Education International’s review

Education International General Secretary David Edwards welcomed the findings, stating: “The TALIS 2018 results provide a solid basis for discussions for trade unions and policy makers based on the value and the values of the teaching profession. They provide hope that, over time, the status of the teaching profession will be better recognised with greater respect and autonomy and more resources.”

The initial review of the findings by Education International welcomes the fact that teachers being treated as respected, skilled professionals are at the core of TALIS policy proposals. TALIS proposals, whether on professional development, teacher appraisal, retaining teachers in difficult schools and, above all on reducing stress and enhancing teacher well-being to teachers, constitute a framework for positive teacher policies. TALIS outlines an optimistic future for education, constructed around teacher policies which, if adopted by governments in partnership with teacher unions will guarantee high quality education for all children and young people.