OECD Report Compares Education in Industrialised Countries: The ‘Education at a Glance’ report compares the characteristics of numerous industrialised countries across the entire education landscape.
The UK fares well in some areas, although not so well in others – with high levels of early years involvement (97% of three-year-olds in pre-school) and above average spending on primary and secondary education per student. UK spending on higher education is 62% above average.
However, England has the highest fees for non-private universities (although also the highest level of support). It should however be noted that this figure does not include the fees for some of the world’s most expensive universities (notably those in the United States) which fall under the banner of private institutions.
English teacher to pupil ratios that are also above the average for the OECD countries surveyed:
- 21 pupils per teacher at primary level, compared to an OECD average of 15
- 18 pupils per teacher at secondary level, compared to an OECD average of 13.
On the theme pf pay, the report showed that graduates in the UK earn 54% more than non-graduates.
In addition, teachers pay declined by real terms between 2005 and 2013 in the UK, whilst highlighting that across all countries there is a struggle to recruit teaching staff. On average, a primary school teacher earns 22% less than someone with similar qualifications. This finding in particular comes in the wake of new findings which suggest that many school leaders are looking to reduce their expenditure on staff, which will potentially exasperate the problem. In comparison, countries such as Poland, Germany, Australia and the US have all increased teacher salaries in real terms, according to the report.
The OECD openly states that ‘uncompetitive salaries will make it harder to attract the best candidates to the teaching profession’.
Additional issues for the recruitment of teachers include the number of hours worked – another issue which is often cited by teaching unions and other industry bodies. In English secondary schools, teachers teach for around 100 hours more than the average for OECD countries per year; the same figure is more than 200 hours above average in Scotland.
On a more positive note for the UK, the report notes that UK-graduates have amongst the lowest level of unemployment in the world; with only New Zealand having a lower figure in proportional terms. Based on 2014 figures, Greece and Spain have the highest rates of graduate unemployment.
In the UK, almost three-quarters (71%) of graduates earn above the median salary.
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