We all know that no school and, importantly, no education system is better than the quality of its teachers and school leaders. There is global consensus about this but little has been done to understand what, apart from material factors such as pay, contribute towards ensuring the teaching profession is strengthened.
For this reason we decided to commission the first ever Global Teacher Status Index, which provides insights into perceptions that the public have about teachers. In many places that our foundation works, the teacher is the biggest agent of change, but often suffers from low-esteem, low regard and is derided by “the system.” How can we expect change in the classroom if the person responsible for molding the minds of tomorrow’s leaders has no standing in their local community?
My parents were aspirational and very much wanted me to become a doctor, engineer or an accountant. Their prime motivation (at least, I believe to this day) was that these professions command respect. As worthy as they are, the role of the teacher is no less important but it’s never mentioned in the same breath as these professions; my parents never suggested I become a teacher.
Status and social standing is an important issue. Why anyone would want to pursue teaching when the relative regard for the profession feels like it is so low is not obvious. So, this is why we wanted to study “status” further.
We collected half a million data points from respondents in 21 countries who told us their views on a range of issues, including:
- How teachers are respected in relation to other professions
- The social standing of teachers
- Whether parents would encourage their children to be teachers
- Whether it is perceived that children respect their teachers
- What people think teachers ought to be paid
- Whether people think teachers ought to be
paid according to the performance of their pupils
- The degree to which people trust their education system
- How much teachers are trusted to deliver a good education to our children
- Whether teachers unions have too much power.
It’s important to remind ourselves that if we are to improve education outcomes in our classrooms, we need the best and qualified teachers recruited and retained. By understanding and measuring “status,” perhaps we can begin strengthening the noble profession in ways that have yet to be fully considered. That is our hope.