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Global teaching snapshot

The Australian report from the OECD Teaching and Learning International Survey, released this month, explores the working conditions of teachers and the learning environment in schools.

The Teaching and Learning International Survey (TALIS) of teachers and principals of students in Years 7 to 10 was prepared by the Australian Council for Educational Research (ACER) for the Commonwealth Department of Education. The Australian report, Australian Teachers and the Learning Environment: An analysis of teacher response to TALIS 2013, complements the international report released by the OECD in June.

The survey found that Australia has an ageing workforce. The number of teachers aged 50 years and older is rising, while the number aged 30 years or younger is falling, which has implications for policy makers and system leaders in terms of succession planning.

Teacher preparation in Australia

Only two-thirds of teachers say their teacher training program prepared them for the job, and between five per cent and eight per cent of teachers are teaching out of field.

According to the report, only 62.2 per cent of Australian teachers say their teacher training program addressed subject content knowledge, while 64 per cent say their teacher training addressed pedagogical content knowledge. Both proportions are lower than the TALIS averages of 72.5 per cent and 69.6 per cent respectively. Nevertheless, Australia has one of the highest educated teacher workforces with virtually all teachers holding an undergraduate or postgraduate diploma or degree or above, compared to the TALIS average of 90.9 per cent.

In terms of out-of-field teaching in Australia, 8.7 per cent of foreign language teachers, 7.2 per cent of English teachers, 5.6 per cent of science teachers and 5.3 per cent of mathematics teachers have received no formal education or training in their subject area.

ACER’s Director of Educational Monitoring and Research Dr Sue Thomson said, ‘The internationally comparable information made available through TALIS addresses teacher demographic characteristics, school leadership, professional development, feedback and appraisals for the teaching workforce, school effectiveness, and teacher practices and beliefs. This enables policy makers and others in the education sector to examine and benchmark best practice from education systems around the world.’

OECD countries that participated in the 2013 survey were: Australia, Canada (Alberta), Chile, the Czech Republic, Denmark, Estonia, Finland, Flemish speaking Belgium, France, Iceland, Israel, Italy, Japan, Korea, Mexico, the Netherlands, Norway, Poland, Portugal, the Slovak Republic, Spain, Sweden, the United Kingdom (England) and the United States, and partner countries and economies: Abu Dhabi (United Arab Emirates), Brazil, Bulgaria, Croatia, Cyprus, Latvia, Malaysia, Romania, Serbia and Singapore.

International comparisons

Teachers spend 19 hours on average a week on teaching – from 15 hours in Norway and 18 hours in Japan to 25 hours in Brazil, 26 hours in Canada and 27 hours in Chile and the US. Australian teachers spend 18.6 hours on teaching. Half of all teachers spend 80 per cent or more of their lesson time on teaching and learning.

Teachers spend seven hours a week, on average, on planning or preparing lessons – seven hours in Australia, five hours in Finland, Israel, Italy, the Netherlands and Poland, and 10 hours in Croatia. Five hours was spent on average marking students’ work, but up to nine hours in Singapore and 10 hours in Portugal; and six hours, on average, on school management, working with parents and extracurricular activities.

In the TALIS teacher questionnaire, teachers were asked to estimate the percentage of class time typically spent on administrative tasks such as recording attendance and handing out school information/forms; keeping order in the classroom and maintaining discipline; and actual teaching and learning activities.

Australian teachers spend more than 20 per cent of lesson time on administrative tasks and keeping order in the classroom. If the percentage of actual teaching and learning or ‘time on task’ is used as a measure for determining effective use of lesson time, Australia would be placed 19th out of 33 on this scale.

Read the full report:

Australian Teachers and the Learning Environment: An analysis of teacher response to TALIS 2013, by Chris Freeman, Kate O’Malley and Frances Eveleigh, is available from http://research.acer.edu.au/talis/2/  (PDF: 204 pages, 2.6 MB)

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