Shedding light on teaching and learning across education levels

by Katarzyna Kubacka
Analyst, Directorate for Education and Skills 

Looking at teachers at all levels of education, we learn that the majority of teachers are women. In all countries, the percentage of male teachers is particularly low in primary schools where teaching is still seen as a women’s job.  As a result young children are missing out on role models of both sexes.

New insights from TALIS 2013: Teaching and learning in primary and upper secondary education reveals that women constitute more than 65% of the work force on average, in all six countries that surveyed primary teachers, ranging from 67% in Mexico to 86% in Poland. In contrast, at least 30% of upper secondary teachers across all ten surveyed countries are male and the percentage of female teachers ranges from 48% in Denmark to 68% in Poland. Interestingly, this gender imbalance at the level of teachers does not translate into the same distribution of leadership positions for men and women. School principals in many countries tend to be male on average – a fact that’s surprising considering that most principals are former teachers, and most teachers are female.

The report marks the first time TALIS has expended its scope beyond lower secondary schools to gather information on teaching and learning at both primary and upper secondary levels of education, in a total of 11 countries  around the world.  The report also focuses on schools’ human resources and general resource shortages across all three levels of education.

It reveals that there are some important differences in terms of how school resources are distributed across the education levels and also across schools with different socio-economic composition. In particular, TALIS provides information on perceived shortages in terms of resources such as qualified teachers, computers for instruction, support personnel: shortages which principals deem hinder the provision of quality education in their schools. Unfortunately these perceived shortages tend to be even more pronounced in schools with larger proportions of students from disadvantaged homes – and this trend is seen across the education levels.

One implication of this new set of TALIS information is that education systems need to put more effort into assuring an equitable distribution of resources within and across education levels. Effective teaching and learning requires that all schools, from primary up to upper secondary, have the tools they require to best equip students with the skills they will require to successfully weather the storm of their rapidly changing environments.

Teaching in Focus No. 8 : What TALIS reveals about teachers across education levels, by Katarzyna Kubacka
Teaching In Focus No. 8Que nous apprend TALIS sur les enseignants des différents niveaux d’enseignement ?
International Summit on the Teaching Profession, Banff, Alberta, on March 29–30, 2015
Photo credit: Human resources officer (HR) choose woman employee standing out of the crowd / Shutterstock

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