The first major survey comparing how well teachers in different countries cope with culturally diverse classrooms will be released later this month.
Talis (Teaching and Learning International Survey) from the Organisation for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD) is the biggest single survey of teachers covering around 260,000 staff in 48 countries. It provides information on who goes into teaching, what training they receive and what their working conditions are like.
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But the 2018 survey will also have two themes which were not covered when the survey was last carried out in 2013.
One of these themes is equality and diversity, which will look at teaching in diverse environments in terms of the social and cultural composition of the pupils in a school.
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“[Diversity] is a major challenge in many countries; we knew that already from previous surveys, where teachers often pointed to diversity in the classroom as one of the major challenges for them in needs of professional development – so we looked in greater detail at the social and cultural composition of their student body,” Andreas Schleicher, director for education and skills at the OECD, said during a webinar about the report today.
He also shared some of the questions that have been asked in the survey, which include asking teachers to what extent, when teaching a culturally diverse class, they can: adapt their teaching to the cultural diversity of students, ensure that students with and without a migrant background work together and reduce ethnic stereotyping amongst students.
London is one of the most ethnically diverse cities in the world, and a previous study has suggested that the relative success of schools in London could be due to the higher number of ethnic minority pupils in the city – particularly those who are the children of immigrants.
The other new theme in Talis 2018 is innovation – including looking at whether teachers feel able to develop their own new ideas and look for new ways to solve problems.
There have also been new questions added to some existing themes.
The last Talis survey, carried out in 2013, highlighted looming teacher shortages, and found that while nine out of 10 teachers did not regret their career choice, more than two-thirds felt undervalued by society.
Talis 2018 will ask teachers for the first time which areas they would prioritise for any extra funding – with nine options given including investing in ICT, supporting children with special needs and improving teacher salaries.
“Talis will give policymakers a much better understanding of the needs of teachers, the status of teachers, their engagement with policies and implementation of policies,” Mr Schleicher said.
“I think it will give a better understanding of how teachers see their work environment, the bottlenecks, and the priorities that teachers see for resource allocation.
“But we equally hope that it will inspire teachers themselves to look outwards, and expand their horizons to see how other teachers work in other countries.
“And we hope that Talis will raise the status of the teaching profession by showing the public how demanding and complex this job is and the level of commitment we see in the teaching profession.”
The Talis 2018 results will be released on 19 June.