Αρχική > εκπαίδευση > Education at a Glance: looking at the evidence objectively

Education at a Glance: looking at the evidence objectively

Chris Keates examines the annual education report by the OECD and argues its data can prove useful, when politics are put to the side

 

Get the data: Class size, teacher’s pay and spending: which countries spend the most and pay the least in education?

Hands dividing pieces of pie chart. Image shot 2010. Exact date unknown.

Education at a Glance needs to be looked at in its whole and should not be treated as a collection of facts and figures to pick and choose from, argues Chris Keates. Photograph: www.alamy.com

The publication by the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD) of its annual Education at a Glance report has this year, as ever, provoked a considerable amount of debate, some well informed but much reflecting a deliberate misrepresentation of its findings and their implications.

The report, a detailed presentation of key international educational statistics, should be seen as a potentially helpful way in which education systems around the world can hold a mirror up to their own progress and achievements and take a closer look at what they might be able to learn from elsewhere.

Education at a Glance is not, however, a collection of facts and figures from which ideologues can pick and choose those that happen to match their predetermined political agendas. Instead, it should, as the OECD suggests, be looked at in the round and provide food for thought for policymakers.

One such area relates to investment in education. A key message from the OECD’s report is that maintaining investment in education and training is central not only to enhancing the life chances of children and young people but also to sustaining social wellbeing and securing economic prosperity.

The OECD’s report therefore lends weight to the NASUWT‘s call for the coalition government’s austerity agenda, through which public investment in schools and colleges is continuing to fall in real terms, to be reversed immediately.

Reports in the media that Education at a Glance proves that the record levels of investment in the education system by the previous government were wasted because standards did not improve during this period, are well wide of the mark. Not least, they are based on a flawed understanding of the international evidence produced by the OECD on pupil achievement. The fact is that the education system in this country has been identified by the OECD as one of the 20 highest performing and fastest improving in the world. This status was secured before the current coalition government took office and they can, therefore, claim no credit for it.

More broadly, the evidence published by the OECD serves to confirm that many of the policies being pursued by the coalition government will continue to undermine, rather than support, the ability of the education system in this country to meet needs of the children and young people it exists to serve.

In particular, the OECD emphasises that there is a direct and positive relationship between educational quality and educational equality. Countries that are serious in their commitment to improving the quality of their education systems are, unlike this government, relentless in their focus on tackling not only the impact of inequality on educational outcomes but also its root causes, such as poverty and discrimination.

The OECD has also highlighted the contrasts between the low levels of investment in research in education in comparison with that seen in other critical sectors such as health, pointing out that investment in education across the industrialised world is around one fifteenth of that directed towards health. It has also identified that in terms of the strategic planning of research and its use of evidence to direct investment, practice in education falls far short of that seen in health.

That this is the case is nothing short of scandalous. If the aspirations of all those with a legitimate stake in the success of the education are to be met in the future, serious action to rapidly improve the level and quality of educational research must be made a key policy priority.

There can never be any room for complacency about the need to build on past successes and work to continue to raise standards of educational achievement. International evidence can, and should, play a central role in supporting this process.

However, it is important this evidence is used objectively and systematically by all concerned, not as an excuse for cheap political points scoring.

Chris Keates is general secretary of the NASUWT – the Teachers’ Union. She taught humanities in Birmingham secondary schools from 1971 to 1994.

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Class size, teacher’s pay and spending: which countries spend the most and pay the least in education?

If you have a child in school in the developed world, there’s only one place you can get comprehensive data on how their education is different to that in other OECD countries. It’s called Pisa and it’s published today. See how the UK, US, Germany, France and more compare

Spending | Private v public | Inequality | Teachers’ pay | Class sizes | Immigration
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Students Pledge Allegiance To The Flag In Pennsylvania

First graders pledge allegiance to the flag in the US. How else do education systems differ around the world? Photograph: William Thomas Cain/Getty Images

Unless you’re an academic or an educational expert, you may never have heard of Pisa. But, if you care about education, the Education at a glance report offers an unrivaled set of educational indicators that tell you not so much about how students achieve (although it does include that data) but how education systems differ across the developed world.

And this year covers the financial crisis which hit in 2008 – with data going up to 2009.

There is a tonne of information and data in there – we’ve extracted the key ones for you.

Spending

As a percentage of GDP spending across all levels of education is up in the UK, from 3.6% in 1995 to 4.5% in 2009 in the UK, from below the OECD average to a level now higher than the latest figure of 4.0%. No country saw a steeper increase in spending on further and higher education than the UK.

Also, despite a decline in GDP between 2008 and 2009, expenditure on education grew by 10.5%-points, 2.2%-points more than the OECD average

Interestingly, the UK had one of the highest enrolment rates in early childhood and primary education among four-year-olds – but annual spending per pre-primary student is less than the OECD average.

Private v public

It’s a staggering rise: 14.8% of the UK’s educational spending came from private sources in 2000, by 2009 it had shot up to 31.1%. The UK now has a higher percentage than the US and Australia. It’s only just below Japan, Korea and Chile.

It’s also had the highest rise in spending on further and higher education of any OECD country – but that money has come from the private sector, which has contributed heavily to the numbers in the table above.

Inequality and education

Despite widening inequality in the UK it has a higher than average number of students who’ve managed to climb up the social ladder. Around 41% of 25-34 year-olds in the UK have reached a higher level of education than their parents, compared with an OECD average of 37%.

Meanwhile, the average employment rate of higher-educated 25-64 year-olds in the UK increased even during the financial crisis (by 0.1%-points) although it went down for people with lower levels of education by 3.3%_points between 2008 and 2010. In fact, the earnings premium for tertiary-educated individuals increased from 54% to 65% – and went downfor people without upper secondary education from 71% to 67%, compared with the average earnings for upper secondary graduates.

Teachers’ pay

If you exclude the huge teacher’s salaries in (very expensive) Luxembourg, then Germany has the highest across the OECD, followed by Canada and Ireland. The US is high up the list too, but teacher salaries have only ncreased by 3.1% since 2000, less than inflation.

In the UK, for primary school teachers with at least 15 years of experience, salaries average $44,145 (£28,000), above the OECD average of $37,603 (£23,800). For lower secondary school teachers with at least 15 years of experience average it’s $44,145. Lower and upper secondary school teachers in England earn 109% more than similarly-educated workers in other professions (the OECD averages are 85% and 90%, respectively).

In Scotland there have been big increases – between 2000 and 2010, primary, lower secondary and upper secondary teachers’ salaries went up by 21% in real terms in Scotland – the 7th highest increase in OECD countries and a 4%-point increase on the OECD average. In England, primary, lower secondary and upper secondary teachers’ salaries increased 9%.

The UK has the highest proportion of teachers below the age of 30 in the OECD – 61.4% of primary school teachers are younger than 40 – the OECD average is 41.1%.

Class sizes

England has some of the highest class sizes in the developed world, beaten only by Mexico and Turkey, with an average of 26.1. That is a ratio of 19.8 students per teacher, compared to an OECD average of 15.7.

While primary school teachers in England, for instance, have to cope with comparatively large classes, they have a lighter teaching load. The number of teaching hours per teacher in English state schools averaged 684 hours per year in primary education (the OECD average is 782 hours), 703 hours in lower secondary education (the OECD average is 704 hours), and 703 hours in upper secondary education (the OECD average is 658 hours) in 2010.

In Scotland, more hours are taught: 855 hours per year in primary, lower secondary and upper secondary education. However, the number of teaching hours has been decreasing over time in Scotland, from 950 hours in 2000 to 893 hours in 2005 and to 855 hours in 2010 at the primary level.

Students in England receive an average of 7,258 hours of teaching between the ages of 7 and 14 – 396 hours more than the OECD average of 6,862 hours.

Immigration

A third of the UK’s top pupils (in the top 25% of the population) are from immigrant families – but at the same time 80% of students with an immigrant background attend schools with a high percentage of immigrant students. The report finds that "even immigrant students with highly-educated mothers are more than twice as likely to be in disadvantaged schools as non-immigrant students".

Data summary
Education: how OECD countries compare

Click heading to sort table. Download this data

Spending per student, $: secondary

% spending on education from private sources, 2009

Public spending on education, % of GDP

International students as % of all further/higher education enrolment

Ave teacher salary, 2010, $

% change 2000-2010

Est class size

SOURCE: OECD

Australia
10,136.81
26.8
4.99
21.2
47,445.08
13.17
17.8

Austria
12,588.60
8.6
6.01
15.4
40,818.11
15.05
12.7

Belgium
10,774.80
5.7
6.57
8.8
44,075.97
10.79
13.6

Canada
8,996.62
21.4
5.06
6.6
54,977.81
20.7

Chile
2,891.98
41.1
4.47
0.7
23,410.94
24.6

Czech Republic
6,602.04
12.0
4.38
8.0
19,948.56
102.34
15.3

Denmark
11,036.23
4.2
8.72
7.5
50,253.23
27.27
14.4

England
44,145.46
8.97
26.1

Estonia
6,518.61
5.8
6.09
1.8
12,575.72
67.01
17.5

Finland
8,946.55
2.4
6.78
4.1
37,454.98
20.45
14.1

France
10,696.02
9.8
5.89
11.6
32,732.81
-8.29
17.3

Germany
9,284.73
15.0
5.06
55,771.33
16.5

Greece
4.2
32,386.69
16.4

Hungary
4,514.42
5.12
4.0
13,227.74
24.69
12.9

Iceland
8,644.26
9.2
7.81
4.9
27,929.60
15.83
14.6

Ireland
11,831.47
5.8
6.5
7.0
53,677.38
27.77
15.9

Israel
5,842.23
20.8
5.85
25,180.68
31.19
24.8

Italy
9,111.63
9.3
4.67
3.5
32,658.21
5.18
13.6

Japan
9,255.59
31.9
3.77
3.4
44,787.72
-8.66
20.8

Korea
9,398.57
40.0
5.05
1.8
46,337.72
16.66
18.4

Luxembourg
19,324.09
41.4
95,043.25
12.6

Mexico
2,536.41
21.2
5.31
18,620.69
8.25
28.1

Netherlands
11,793.29
16.3
5.94
4.3
50,621.21
15.9

New Zealand
7,960.00
17.4
7.24
14.2
41,008.58
7.73

Norway
13,882.88
7.32
1.5
35,990.91
10.9

Poland
5,025.59
13.3
5.1
0.9
15,186.00
15.1

Portugal
8,709.42
6.5
5.79
2.9
37,541.85
25.22
11.2

Scotland
3.4
48,187.58
21.31

Slovak Republic
4,657.56
16.1
4.08
1.7
12,687.55
16.1

Slovenia
8,670.48
11.5
5.7
3.0
32,436.27
17.0

Spain
10,110.60
12.9
5.01
6.9
42,845.58
12.51
13.1

Sweden
10,050.03
2.6
7.29
15.4
33,374.37
8.02

Switzerland
15,644.94
5.55
0.7

Turkey
24,761.08
101.71
30.1

United Kingdom
10,013.04
31.1
5.63
16.0

United States
12,550.24
28.0
5.53
3.4
45,225.60
3.1
13.0

OECD average
9,312.49
16.0
5.75
37,603.37
22.5
17.1

EU21 average
9,512.96
10.5
5.81
8.0

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