England pulls out of Talis international teaching study

DfE opts to withdraw from survey that found England's teachers were the most stressed in the developed world

Claudia Civinini

England will not take part in the next Talis international teaching survey, which is run by the OECD

England will not take part in the next cycle of the Teaching and Learning International Survey (Talis), it has emerged.

The Department for Education has decided to pull out of the survey, which previously found that lower-secondary teachers in England were the most stressed among all their counterparts in the developed world.

The DfE said the decision was made in a bid to reduce the "workload burden" on schools – but unions say the survey was not "particularly time-consuming or burdensome".

Administered by the Organisation for Economic Cooperation and Development, Talis collects data about working conditions and teaching environment via a questionnaire for teachers and school leaders.

The last cycle was in 2018, and the next, which England has withdrawn from, will be in 2022.

Wellbeing: England's teachers 'most stressed' in developed world

From Talis: England's teacher intimidation among world's worst

Background: What Talis tells us about schools and teachers today

A Department for Education spokesperson said: “To reduce the considerable workload burden of data collection placed on schools across the country, we have decided not to take part in the upcoming Teaching and Learning International Survey.

The value of the Talis teaching survey

“We will continue to take part in a number of international studies in the coming years, as well as conducting our own national surveys to review performance and ensure that students and teachers can benefit from an excellent education system.”

The decision has been criticised by education unions.

In a joint letter to the minister for schools standards, Nick Gibb, which followed what the NAHT school leaders' union called a "surprise communication" from the DfE, the unions expressed their opposition to the decision and lamented that it had been taken without consultation with key stakeholders.

They also made the point that data from the international survey could be a precious indicator of how the Covid crisis has impacted on education.

The letter reads: "We jointly believe that the unique insights gained through participation in Talis are invaluable at this time of national and international emergency.  

"Indeed, now, more than ever, we need to understand the impact the global emergency has had on teaching and learning and what lessons we might learn going forward.

"We would also note that experience from our members does not lend support to the view that engagement with Talis is particularly time-consuming or burdensome and that the move to producing Talis every six years will further mitigate any impacts in this respect.

"Whilst we welcome the DfE data collections and research, these cannot substitute for Talis. England’s poor performance against OECD countries is no reason to withdraw from Talis. On the contrary, we believe it makes our participation more vital." 

The signatories of the letter were: the NAHT, the Association of School and College leders, the NASUWT, the NEU and Voice.

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Claudia Civinini

Claudia Civinini

Find me on Twitter @claudiacivinini

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