Teachers are confident in abilities but feel devalued by society


The OECD’s new global teaching study shows that teachers in Flanders are happy with their jobs and would choose them again if starting over

Influencing young people

Flemish teachers are largely confident in their abilities and happy with their jobs, according to a major international study. The Teaching and Learning International Survey (Talis) is carried out every two years by the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD) across 48 countries and regions.

The results of its 2018 study were released this week. The figures show that eight out of 10 teachers in Flanders would choose teaching again if they had the chance to start their career again. However, only 30% of teachers in primary education and 25% of those in the first grade of secondary school think that teaching is valued by society.

“The Talis survey confirms again that Flanders has a teaching corps we can be proud of,” said Flemish education minister Hilde Crevits. “They are highly educated teachers who, in a society that is becoming more diverse, get their motivation from developing children and influencing young people in order to contribute to society.”

First-choice careers

The OECD study asks teachers and principals about all aspects of their work and the environment – working conditions, the school atmosphere, job satisfaction, professional development, their thoughts on education policy and more. In Flanders, 359 schools and 5,783 teachers were randomly selected to take part, and the research was conducted locally by research group Tempus Omnia Revelat of the Vrije Universiteit Brussel (VUB).

Teaching was the first-choice career for 74% of teachers in Flanders, higher than the OECD average of 67%. The average age of teachers is 39, five years younger than the OECD average, while just 22% are older than 50, compared to the OECD average of 34%.

In terms of gender balance, only 40% of Flanders’ principals are women, compared to 70% of teachers. The OECD averages are 47% and 68% respectively. When it comes to pupil behaviour, 40% of principals report regular acts of intimidation or bullying among their students, much higher than the OECD average of 14%.

We stand as friends at the front of the class. The pupils feel that

- Marijke Callens

38% of teachers work in schools where at least 10% of students have a migrant background – more than twice the OECD average of 17%. And while class sizes in Flanders are smaller than the European average, teachers consider it a priority to invest further in recruitment to reduce class sizes further.

Meanwhile, Flanders’ Teacher of the Year award for 2019, given out each year by Klasse magazine, has been presented to a team of four teachers working at Go! Atheneum in Schoten, Antwerp province. Bert Ameloot, Kristof De Bruyn, Marijke Callens and Machteld Meyen were chosen from 2,500 nominated teams.

They experimented with teaching in a team rather than individually, and turned their four classrooms into one single teaching space. Their classes prepare children who didn’t pass the exams at the end of primary school for vocational education. “We stand as friends at the front of the class,” Callens said of her teammates. “The pupils feel that.”

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