A confident teacher is a better teacher

27th March 2015 at 00:00
Report finds staff's self-belief can influence achievement

Teachers with confidence in their abilities tend to find that their students perform better, a new report says.

The study, by the Organisation for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD), suggests that countries which want to improve education should focus on teachers' self-belief.

Published ahead of an international summit of education ministers and union representatives in Canada this weekend, the report finds that teachers with high levels of confidence in their abilities tend to achieve better results (bit.lyOECDefficacy). It says that high levels of "self-efficacy" among teachers - defined as "belief in their ability to teach, engage students and manage a classroom" - have a positive impact on students' attainment.

Teachers with a poor sense of self-efficacy, it says, face greater difficulties with student misbehaviour and tend to be more stressed. Factors that improve teachers' confidence include greater experience in the classroom, being involved in decision-making at school level, not teaching students with behavioural difficulties, forming good relationships with colleagues and being involved in "collaborative professional learning activities", the report continues.

Education International, the global federation of teaching unions, hailed the findings as the first indication from the OECD that teachers' confidence is linked to students' attainment.

A report by the federation says that the OECD findings have "enormous implications" for education policy.

"Up until now a number of governments believed the best way of achieving success was to impose often politically-inspired policies.Often these policies have been influenced by a quasi-market approach and high-stakes evaluations at all levels of education," it says.

"Evaluation which enhances trust in the system is vital both for teachers and student achievement."

John Bangs, a senior consultant at Education International, told TES: "If the government wants to be at the top of the world rankings, it simply can't carry on beating down on the profession in the way it has done."

Russell Hobby, general secretary of the NAHT headteachers' union, said: "The idea that confident teachers are more effective seems pretty intuitive, but we've had a period of five years in which teachers have felt distrusted and undermined.

"Although the government may feel an urgent need to raise standards, it should realise it could go further and faster if it did so with a confident profession."

OECD researchers found that secondary teachers in England were more confident than their overseas counterparts on several key measures. Some 93 per cent said that they were capable of getting students to believe they could do well, compared with an international average of 86 per cent; 76 per cent said they could motivate uninterested pupils, compared with 70 per cent internationally.


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