Some Takeaways from TALIS 2013 for Flanders

The OECD Teaching and Learning International Survey (TALIS) is a 5-yearly questionnaire with (primary education and lower secondary education) teachers and school leaders. It’s not a competency test, but more an investigation of their attitudes, satisfaction and engagement with professional development.  TALIS asks a representative sample of teachers and schools in each country about their working conditions and the learning environments.  It links results to various educational policies in the participating countries and regions.  Results can be downloaded from the OECD website.  A report with an interpretation of the results for Flanders can be found here.
Some personal takeaways (it’s interesting to see how everyone identifies different highlights in this extensive report):
  • the general education level of teachers in Flanders is low (many professional bachelors, few masters);
  • the high autonomy of schools in Flanders translates into responsibilities for pedagogical matters (but not in curriculum), human resources (but not in salaries) and financial policy.
Degree of autonomy in Flemish schools vs. comparable countries

Degree of autonomy in Flemish schools vs. comparable countries

  • Flemish school leaders indicate they compete actively with other schools to attract pupils (only in England the percentage is as high).  The free choice of school is obviously related to this.
  • Flemish teachers see little need to engage in professional development.  Notwithstanding many have engaged in some professional development during the last year (88%), only 10,5% sees a strong need for ICT training and only 5,3% recognizes a need to learn more about helping children with special needs.
CPD needs Flemish teachers compared with TALIS average

CPD needs Flemish teachers compared with TALIS average

  • Teaching in Flanders remains very much an individual activity. Most teachers stay within the safe confines of their classrooms.  75% never observes lessons from other teachers to give feedback.  Two thirds of teachers in lower secondary education never engage in team teaching.  Thirdly, joined professional development is not common.  31% of primary teachers and 45% of lower secondary teachers never do this (highest % in Flanders).
  • In South Africa, VVOB supports the establishment of professional learning communities in primary schools as an instrument for teacher professional development, as laid out in South African policy documents.  The TALIS results show that also in Flanders courses and workshops are still the preferred means for professional development.  Less than a third of teachers works in a school where networks, virtual networks or peer review are mentioned as a component of professional development.  Flemish school leaders engage more in professional networks.
Participation at professional development activities by Flemish teachers (during 12 months prior to survey)

Participation at professional development activities by Flemish teachers (during 12 months prior to survey)

  • Finally, perhaps a bit surprising, most (approx. 80%) teachers feel recognized by society and only a small minority considers leaving the profession (however most who want to leave profession do so within the first 3 years of their teaching career).

An extensive Slideshare presentation and video (both in English) on the TALIS 2013 results can be found here.  Another review, by Pedro De Bruykere, is available here.

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