Teacher Status – Why it Matters

We believe that teachers – skilled professionals doing one of the most important jobs in society – should be treated with the same degree of respect as doctors. Yet, the Varkey Foundation Global Teacher Status Index showed that, of the 21 countries surveyed, only in China did people see teachers as having equal status with doctors. In the UK, fewer than 5% of respondents thought teachers had an equivalent status.

What does the research say about the future of the profession?

respect_the_status_of_teachersThe 2013 survey asked a question that gets to the heart of whether teaching is a respected profession: would you encourage your own child to become a teacher? We found large disparities here; 50% of parents in China would provide positive encouragement, for example, but only 8% would do so in Israel.

Do students respect teachers?

Worryingly, the report found that in many countries, particularly across Europe, more people believe that pupils do not respect teachers than believe that they do.

Teacher status – what is it?

Studies such as the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development’s Programme for International Student Assessment have been very enlightening in terms of how different countries compare when it comes to student results. We are starting to understand how academic performance may relate to the resources that a country devotes to its educational system, the teacher recruitment process and how much teachers are paid.

But, until the Varkey Foundation Global Teacher Status Index was published, we knew much less about the roles cultural, political and economic factors play when it comes to the social standing of teachers in different countries and how these might impact education systems.

Focusing on teacher status, perceptions of teacher reward and teacher agency and control, the Global Teacher Status Index helped us understand:

      • How teachers are respected in relation to other professions
      • The social standing of teachers in different countries
      • Whether parents would encourage their children to be teachers
      • Whether it is perceived that students respect their teachers
      • What people think teachers ought to be paid
      • Whether people think teachers should be paid in accordance with student results and performance
      • The degree to which people trust their education system
      • How much teachers are trusted to deliver a good education
      • Whether teaching unions are seen as having too much power

All of these factors contribute to our understanding of “teacher status.” Teacher status can have a massive impact on things like recruitment, retention, job satisfaction and performance.

What are we doing about it?

Through the Global Teacher Prize, we are seeking to change people’s perceptions about the profession.


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