Nicky Morgan, Secretary of State for Education
England is not doing too well when it comes to international comparisons in education. Nicky Morgan will not be berating teachers about this. In fact, I suspect she will defend our education system robustly and say that, despite these poor results, actually we are doing rather well. OK, the DfE have already done that, in the BBC News report I’ve linked to, batting away the negatives and simply looking at all the positives.
The fact is that we compare quite badly to other countries when it comes to class sizes and the number of hours our teachers are working. In terms of pay, many countries have seen a real terms increase in teacher pay, with England down there with Greece and Portugal, where pay has declined in real terms.
How interesting. When the International Comparisons are on pupil achievement, the message is loud and clear. It focuses on the negatives and is an excuse for wholesale reform and the imposition of Ministers’ personal ideologies. ‘Our teachers are not doing enough’, ‘not working hard enough’ and ‘not delivering the results the government wants’. Any positives are minimalised and/or ignored. The problems with our economy have justified no pay increases or nominal increases which never keep pace with rising costs and/or taxes.
Here are a few of the reasons why England is not doing too well according to the OECD
- teacher-pupil ratios, primary: 21 per teacher, compared with 15 average;
- teacher – pupil ratios secondary: 18 per teacher, compared with 13 average
- teachers’ pay declined in real-terms between 2005 and 2013
(Poland, Germany, the United States and Australia had increased teachers’ pay in real terms);
- In secondary schools in England, teachers taught for about 100 hours more than the average for OECD countries per year.
I have deliberately ignored the ‘positives’ taken from the report (and there are a number). The DfE and Nicky Morgan will shout these out and excuse/ignore, perhaps even misrepresent the real problems highlighted above that in my view contribute to the problems in teacher recruitment and retention. It’s time to take responsibility for how badly we are doing in these international comparisons DfE/Nicky Morgan and start making some real progress in helping us climb to the top of the tables. After all you want us to be at the top of these league tables don’t you? Or is it just the tables where you don’t have to fix the problems and can offload the work onto others?