Improving learning spaces by empowering school users

By Andreas Schleicher
Director, Directorate for Education and Skills

During a trip to Finland in the middle of winter, I visited a school where all the students left their snow boots in the school lobby and walked around in their socks for the rest of the day. I had a similar experience in New Zealand, where barefoot students are a common sight in warmer months. In each case, the students clearly felt as comfortable in their schools as they would in their living rooms. While fundamental, we need to do more than just ensure the comfort and safety of students in schools. The bigger challenge is to foster an effective learning environment that supports students in building the portfolio of knowledge and skills they will need to thrive in the 21st century.

When visiting schools all over the world, I’ve witnessed many instances of students and teachers re-arranging their physical environment – both inside and outside school buildings – to suit their learning objectives and teaching practice…

What can PISA tell us about teacher policies?

By Francesco Avvisati
Analyst, Directorate for Education and Skills

Photo credit: Jeffrey Hamilton/Unsplash
Teachers are the most important resource in today’s schools. Teacher salaries and training represent the greatest share of education spending in every country, and for good reason: students who are taught by the best teachers have much higher chances of succeeding in learning and life. It should come as no surprise, then, that policy makers across the world have focused greater attention on teaching, as they strive to improve student learning and make education more equitable and inclusive.

A new report published today aims to guide policy-makers in their quest for effective teacher policies by analysing data from the Programme for International Student Assessment (PISA) and other OECD databases. Our report, Effective Teacher Policies: Insights from PISA, examines how the best-performing countries select, develop, evaluate and compensate teachers; how teacher sorting across school…

Are Norwegian universities preparing students for a changing labour market?

By Dirk Van Damme 
Head of the Skills Beyond School Division,  Directorate for Education and Skills

Photo credit: Mikael Kristenson/Unsplash
In many countries, there are increasing concerns about the gap between the qualifications and skills that universities deliver, and those that the labour market demands. Employers are becoming especially vocal about this, claiming that they cannot find graduates with the skills sets they need. And as globalisation and digitalisation continue to transform economies, we can expect to see profound changes in the skills that employers demand in the future. In other words, the skills shortages of today might not be the same as those of tomorrow.

Ensuring that the supply of skills more or less matches demand – both today and tomorrow – is no easy undertaking. Higher education has the very difficult task of equipping students with generic and domain-specific knowledge and skills that last for a lifetime. This is almost impossible. Simplistic answers will …

Five myths about education, debunked

By Andreas Schleicher Director, Directorate for Education and Skills
Photo credit: Shutterstock
It’s so much easier to educate students for our past than for their future. Schools are inherently conservative social systems; as parents we get nervous when our children learn things we don’t understand, and even more so when they no longer study things that were so important for us. Teachers are more comfortable teaching how they were taught than how they were taught to teach. And, as a politician, you can lose an election over education issues, but you can rarely win one, because it takes far more than an election cycle to translate intentions into results.

So changing education bureaucracies seems like moving graveyards: it’s often hard to rely on the people out there to help, because the status quo has so many protectors. The biggest risk to schooling today isn’t its inefficiency, but that our way of schooling is losing its purpose and relevance. And when fast gets really fast, being sl…

Why social emotional learning matters for migrant students and how schools can help

By Andreas Schleicher, Director, Directorate for Education and Skills and John McLaughlin,Deputy Education & Early Childhood Development Minister, New Brunswick
Photo credit: Feliphe Schiarolli/Unsplash
The world is experiencing major geopolitical, economic, environmental and social shifts resulting in increased international migration. In turn, migration flows are having a snowball effect on cultural, ethnic, linguistic and religious diversity in many of today's classrooms, particularly in cities and large metropolitan areas. As a result, calls for schools to help their students develop social and emotional skills – in addition to strong academic skills – are growing louder. Social and emotional skills are crucial for a child’s ability to thrive in complex, interconnected and highly diverse environments in and outside of school. Additionally, the OECD’s own work has shown that these skills are crucial assets for the working environments of the 21st  century.
We should view m…

Where will tomorrow's graduates come from?

By Marie-Helene Doumet Senior Analyst, Directorate for Education and Skills

Knowledge has become the new currency of today’s economy. Digitalisation, technological innovation and globalisation have together made intellectual capital the most important asset in today’s era, and countries have responded by increasing access to higher education like never before.

By the end of the 20th century, the United States was the highest supplier of tertiary graduates in the world. Around the same time, the share of 25-34 year-olds holding a higher education degree reached above 40% in only two OECD countries: Canada and Japan. But no one would have disputed back then that the two population giants, China and India, would one day play a major role in supplying the world’s graduates. By 2015, 37 million young adults held a higher education degree in China and 30 million in India. Together, they represent 40% of the total pool of tertiary-educated young adults worldwide, more than the EU and the Amer…

What current education ministers can learn from their predecessors

By Andreas Schleicher
Director, Directorate for Education and Skills

Photo credit: © Varkey Foundation
Last October, I attended the inaugural meeting of the Atlantis Group – an organisation comprised of former education ministers from across the world. Over the course of two days, these former ministers shared their experiences and insights in tackling common challenges, and discussed the role of political leadership in education.

It was fascinating to see former leaders share insights and common practices. But two things struck me as particularly interesting: virtually every former minister said they wished they had known on their first day what they knew on their last day; and nearly everyone wished they had been far more courageous and aware of the policy space for deep and lasting change that had actually been available.

While some new ministers will have access to a body of research and data to inform their decision-making, few will have the opportunity to learn from their predeces…