Major new international research has concluded that head teachers in the UK have a higher status that any of the 20 other industrialised countries it examined.
People in nations in six different continents were given a list of 14 professions, including head teachers, primary teachers and secondary teachers and asked to rank them in terms of how well they were respected.
The UK general public gave heads the highest ranking, while Brazil had the lowest.
National Association of Head Teachers, general secretary Russell Hobby, said: “One of the differences with England is that a lot more authority and autonomy is delegated down to school level so heads have a lot more decision making power than is often the case in other countries.
“They also focus a lot more on what goes on in the classroom and on learning rather than administrative duties that can dominate heads time in other parts of the world. I think that parents like that.”
The finding from the Varkey Gems Foundation Teacher Status Index backs the conclusion of another major study last year. UK heads were the best in the developed world, according to the Organisation for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD), which praised them for “doing what school principals should be doing - spending time focused on learning, not administration”.
But the new index, based on Populus surveys of representative samples of 1,000 members of the public in each of the 21 countries, had less good news for UK classroom teachers.
It placed the country in right in the middle of the rankings for overall teacher status at 11th place. Israel was bottom and like the UK and two thirds all the countries studied, saw teachers as equivalent to social workers.
Teachers in China had by far the highest status and was the only country where they were judged to be on par with doctors.
The overall teacher status index also took into account factors including pay, perceived respect shown by pupils to teachers and whether parents would encourage their children to go into the profession.
The other countries in the survey were the Czech Republic, the Netherlands, Egypt, France, Germany, Italy, Portugal, Turkey, Singapore, South Korea, Spain, Switzerland, Finland, Japan, Greece, New Zealand and the United States.
*See tomorrow’s TES magazine for more on this story.
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