The Global Teacher Status Index is based on in-depth opinion by Populus in 35 countries that explores the attitudes on issues ranging from what is a fair salary for teachers to whether they think pupils respect teachers to how highly people rank their own education system. There have been many international comparisons in education, but this the first time that the role of teacher status has been studied in-depth.
The growth of internationally comparative student assessment measures such as the Programme for International Student Assessment (PISA), and the annual publication of the OECDs annual Education at a Glance, provides a global perspective of how children perform on comparable educational tests across many countries of the world. Understanding how this performance relates to the competence and effectiveness of teachers has been much debated – with the now famous aphorism that “the quality of an education system cannot exceed the quality of its teachers”.
But what is much less well understood within discussions of the roles of the teacher in improving pupil outcomes are the roles that social standing, or status, play in the position of teachers in each country, and how these might impact on education systems and pupil results?
In 2013, the Varkey Foundation conducted the first Global Teacher Status Index (GTSI13) to try and establish the answers to some of these questions. This showed that across all the countries reviewed, teachers occupied a mid-ranking of status, with teachers recording the highest status in China, and lowest in Israel and Brazil. Teachers were most commonly thought to be similar to social workers in terms of status.
Five years on, this work presents an updated analysis to build on the results.
In this report we are able to show that both high teacher pay and high status are necessary to produce the best academic outcomes for pupils.
In order to determine the social standing of the teaching profession, we asked our participants to rank 14 occupations in a restricted and ‘forced’ list in order of how, in their view, people undertaking those occupations are respected in their country. (All respondents were obliged to rank all occupations in the on-line questionnaire.) All terms were deliberately left up to respondents to define. We deliberately chose to keep these professions the same as they were in 2013 to facilitate ease of comparison. The occupations were:
• Primary school teacher
• Secondary school teacher
• Head teacher
• Local government manager
• Social worker
• Website designer
• Management consultant
These occupations were deliberately chosen as graduate or graduate- perceived jobs which require broadly similar qualifications in terms of completing ‘high school’ and also undertaking further university or tertiary education or professional equivalent qualifications. The occupations were also carefully selected with respect to how similar or dissimilar the work might be – but also how perceptions of these occupations may di er according to whether they are in the private commercial sector or in the public sector. By giving respondents a variety of alternative professions, we were able to extract a precise relative ranking of occupations. The average status rank score (out of 14) by occupation across the whole sample of all our countries is tabulated in Table 3.1.
Here, the stark fact is that Headteacher is ranked in the top 4 of our graduate occupations and professions, but that Secondary and Primary teachers are near the bottom, only above, Librarian, Social Worker and Web Designer. This finding alone is motivation for this study. The world’s children need to be taught by people in an occupation that engenders high respect and status. This opens up the agenda to ask the question of how this position can be changed.
The essence of the results is captured in Figure 3.1. The graph shows the average ranking of primary, secondary and head teachers from 1-14, with 14 as the highest ranking profession. The line graph has been ranked in terms of respect for head teachers for reference purposes. The average respect ranking for a teacher across the 35 countries was 7th out of the 14 professions. This is indicative of a mid-way respect ranking for the profession relative to the other professions selected. In 94% of countries head teachers are more highly respected than secondary teachers. In 91% of countries secondary teachers are more respected than primary teachers.
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