Showing posts from October, 2011

Good fences make good neighbours

by Oscar Valiente Consultant, OECD Directorate for Education

‘Good fences make good neighbors’ says Robert Frost’s protagonist in ‘’Mending wall’. Frost himself was not so sure. Barriers in education – like barriers between people - are not what cities and regions need in our time: rather what they need is better collaboration between the vocational and the university sectors for social and economic development. A very good example of this is the area of lifelong learning. Lifelong learning does not fit well with a system based on barriers and divisions even when they are pragmatic and blurred. Learners need to move from one sector to another in different moments of their life and tertiary education systems don’t always allow that.
Vocational and the university sectors can collaborate through updating and upgrading workers’ skills in firms, sharing business links for apprenticeships and internships, establishing dual programmes with the business sector, to name but a few. The range of …

What’s in children's school bags?

by Marilyn Achiron
Editor, Indicators and Analysis Division, Directorate for Education

The textbook in your or your child’s backpack: who decided it was the best one to use? And does it matter to your or your child’s success in school if that decision is taken by your school or by your government? The latest edition of PISA in Focus looks into how those issues relate to learning outcomes.

For example, school systems that grant individual schools autonomy in defining curricula, which can include determining which courses are offered, the content of those courses and the textbooks used to teach that material, tend to show better student performance overall, even after accounting for national income. Data from PISA 2009 show that the Czech Republic, the Netherlands, the United Kingdom and the partner economy Macao-China grant their schools the greatest autonomy in these matters, while schools in Greece, Turkey and the partner countries Jordan and Tunisia have the least autonomy in these m…

Chinese lessons

by Andreas Schleicher Head of the Indicators and Analysis Division, OECD Directorate for Education
While in China last month for the launch of the first Chinese edition of Education at a Glance, I had the privilege of spending half a day in one of the experimental schools in Shanghai that is developing and piloting the next generation of the provinces educational reforms. Shanghai, among today’s top performers in PISA serves, in turn, as a pilot for China’s educational future.
The previous wave of reforms in Shanghai had focused on professionalising education and disseminating good practice through a system of empowered and networked schools. Those established the capacity of the education system to attracted the most talented teachers to the most challenging classrooms and the most capable school leaders to the most disadvantaged schools. The new reforms are now intended to produce innovative approaches to pedagogy and personalised learning experiences. The aim is to offer a more flexib…

Making bullying prevention a priority in Finnish schools

by Christina Salmivalli
Professor of Psychology at the University of Turku, Finland

Worldwide, an average of 10% of children and youth are targets of on-going negative treatment by their peers at school. 

Bullying is aggressive, harmful behavior which is targeted repeatedly at one and the same individual. Apart from its repeated nature, bullying can be differentiated from occasional conflicts or fights in another respect as well: it occurs between children who are unequal in their strength, power, or social status (for instance, a physically stronger or older child harassing a younger/weaker peer; several children mocking one target; a self-confident child attacking someone who is very shy and socially anxious and thus finds it difficult to stand up for him/herself; or a highly popular child harassing someone who is viewed negatively in the peer group). Due to such inequalities, bullying has also been called systematic abuse of power. Bullying often takes place in the school context, no…

Celebrating teachers and new ones at that!

by Julie Belanger
Analyst, OECD, Centre for Educational Research and Innovation
World Teachers' Day, held every year on 5 October, was started by UNESCO in 1994. Today, 18 years later (long enough for a generation to have started and completed school), we join our colleagues in celebrating teachers the world over.
The aim of World Teachers' Day is to mobilise support for teachers to ensure that the needs of future generations will continue to be met.
Of all the school factors that can influence students’ achievement, teachers in the classroom have by far the biggest impact. Recruiting, retaining, and developing effective teachers is therefore critical to the needs of future students and a priority in all school systems world wide. Our OECD programme, Teaching and Learning International Survey (TALIS) helps to inform these policy priorities by examining the ways in which teachers’ work is recognised, appraised and rewarded.
TALIS also assesses the degree to which teachers’ profess…