Stephen Byers's notion that teachers' professionalism means "extra demands on teachers to work in the evening, early in the morning, at the weekend" is somewhat misguided. Most teachers already work extremely hard doing a job that society shows little appreciation of in a country where it is culturally not fashionable to be well-educated.
In a recent research analysis, Professor Harold Stevenson of the University of Michigan, has shown why Asian-American students do better than their western peers. Asian parents and their children believe that the route towards a successful education is hard work. Their Western peers believe it to be good teaching. As Stevenson says: "The East Asian students assumed responsibility for their own progress while the rest let others take responsibility for their performance."
In order to raise pupils' attainment in schools, there is a need for a major cultural shift in society's attitude to education. That shift begins outside the school and does not rest only with overworked and underpaid teachers.
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