Schools with more poor students less likely to have qualified staff
Schools with a higher proportion of disadvantaged students are less likely to have qualified teachers than schools with a more privileged intake, according to a report.
The international study found that in more than a third of countries, including the UK, teachers in “the most disadvantaged schools” are less qualified or less experienced than those in the most advantaged schools.
In the UK, 99% of science teachers in schools with a wealthier intake have a degree in their subject, compared with 92% of those with disadvantaged pupils, according to the report by the Organisation for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD).
Many countries try to compensate for disadvantage in schools with smaller classes and improved pupil-teacher ratios, but the report argues that employing high-quality teachers– not just a greater number of teachers – is key to closing the gap between the most and least advantaged children.
The report also flags up the disadvantage faced by rural schools in the UK, where schools in cities urban areas employ a significantly larger share of qualified teachers.
“On average across OECD countries, there was no significant difference between rural and urban schools in the share of fully certified teachers,” the report says. “Yet in 13 countries and economies, urban schools employed larger shares of fully certified teachers than rural schools, with the largest differences observed in Indonesia, Kosovo, Turkey and the UK.”
Launching the report in Madrid, Andreas Schleicher, the OECD’s director for education and skills, said: “In most countries, a student’s or school’s postal code still remains one of the best predictors of education success.
“This evidence shows that countries can redress inequities in opportunities if they assign high-quality teachers, and not just more teachers, to the most challenging schools.”
The OECD report, Effective Teacher Policies, is based on analysis of the Pisa global education survey that compares educational performance across the world. It is based on international tests sat by 15-year-olds in participating countries.
The report says the current “decentralised” system of matching teachers to vacancies in the UK could be a factor behind the disparity between qualified teachers in advantaged and disadvantaged schools.
School leaders who took part in a survey for the study said the lack of qualified teachers was a major barrier to overcoming disadvantage and improving learning.
“Most countries and economies compensated disadvantaged schools with smaller classes and/or lower student/teacher ratios,” the report said. “However, in more than a third of countries and economies, teachers in the most disadvantaged schools were less qualified or less experienced than those in the most advantaged schools.”
Gaps in pupil performance between those from wealthier and poorer backgrounds were wider in countries where disadvantaged schools employed fewer qualified and experienced teachers than so-called advantaged schools.