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Class Sizes, Staffing And Resources Working Group: Interim Report

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2. WHERE SCOTLAND SITS INTERNATIONALLY

2.1 Part of the working group's remit is to benchmark Scotland against national and international comparisons in relation to:

  • Investment in education
  • Staffing levels (teaching and non-teaching staff)
  • Educational outcomes.

2.2 Using information produced by the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development ( OECD), the Programme for International Student Assessment ( PISA),

the Eurydice network and the Progress in International Reading Literacy Study ( PIRLS) 2001 survey, Scotland's position and performance can be compared. 1 ( See Annex 1 for an outline of these sources.) At its first meeting, the Group decided to concentrate requests to Eurydice to Finland, Denmark and the Netherlands, as these countries have broadly similar education systems that can usefully be compared to Scotland.

Investment in Education

2.3 Figure 2.1 illustrates the PISA analysis of the relationship between spending per student and student performance in mathematics. Clearly investment is important, but the graph shows that the relationship between investment and performance is not linear. For example, Finland is one of the best performing countries, yet spends less than many other less well performing countries.

Figure 2.1: Performance in mathematics and expenditure on education per pupil

Figure 2.1: Performance in mathematics and expenditure on education per pupil

2.4 Figure 2.2 below shows education spend as a percentage of Gdp 2 in 2002. Of the five countries surveyed, expenditure as a percentage of GDP is highest in Scotland at 7% followed by Denmark at 6.9%, while UK expenditure is 5%. 3

Figure 2.2: Total public expenditure on (Primary & Secondary) education as a % of GDP, 2002

Figure 2.2: Total public expenditure on (Primary & Secondary) education as a % of GDP, 2002

Investment per pupil in 2002

2.5 The most recent international comparison of expenditure on education is for 2002, published by the OECD in Education at a Glance for 2005 (Figure 2.3, below). In broad terms, the graph illustrates that Scotland is in line with the OECD average for primary education and above the average for secondary. For primary education, expenditure in Scotland is the UK as a whole and similar to Finland and France but greater than in Ireland, Spain and Germany. For secondary education, it is below France, Denmark and the United States, but greater than Finland, Germany, Ireland, Spain and the UK as a whole .

Figure 2.3: International comparison of expenditure per pupil in 2002

Figure 2.3

Teachers' pay

2.6 Figure 2.4 shows international teachers' pay comparisons for 2002/03. The graph illustrates that Scotland is the sixth highest awarding country out of twelve and slightly below England and Wales. At the time of data collection however the full impact of the Teachers' Pay Agreement had not completely fed through into salary levels for Scottish teachers. (A further 4% increase was awarded in August 2003.)

Figure 2. 4: Basic grade teachers' salaries as a % per capita GDP, 2002/03

Figure 2. 4: Basic grade teachers' salaries as a % per capita GDP, 2002/03

Source: Eurydice Key Data on Education in Europe 2005

Initial Teacher Education ( ITE) and Continuing Professional Development ( CPD)

2.7 Comparisons between the overall level of ITE received by individuals in different countries prior to entering the teaching profession is inherently difficult. In Denmark, Finland, the Netherlands and Scotland, ITE includes both a general and a professional component. The general component is the part given over to courses covering general education and study of the one or more specific subjects to be taught. The professional component involves courses devoted to required teaching skills and school teaching placements. The theoretical and practical professional training may be given either at the same time as the general courses (the concurrent model) or after them (the consecutive model). Figure 2.5 compares the number of years of ITE required of teachers entering the primary and secondary sectors in Denmark, Finland, the Netherlands and Scotland; additionally, comparisons are made between the percentage of ITE allocated to general teacher education and compulsory minimum professional training. 4

Figure 2.5: Initial Teacher Education 2002/03

 Figure 2.5: Initial Teacher Education 2002/03

Source: Eurydice Key Data on Education in Europe 2005

Denmark provides 4 years of ITE for those entering primary and lower secondary, of which 32.5% is compulsory professional training. 5 Finland offers 5 years of ITE to all teachers, although the level of compulsory professional training differs between primary and secondary sectors: primary school teachers require 50% compulsory professional training, whilst those who teach in secondary schools require 21.9%. In the Netherlands, teachers require 4 years' ITE in both primary and secondary sectors. There is no minimum compulsory professional training in the Netherlands, as it is a matter for Teacher Education Institutions to determine what level of training to offer. Scotland provides 5 years of ITE for primary and 6 years for secondary (of which 40% and 29 % respectively is compulsory professional training).

Class sizes - primary education

2.8 The bulk of information currently available relates to mainly Central and Eastern European countries. Figure 2.6 shows that in most countries an upper limit is in place, which as a rule, stands at between 25 and 30 pupils per class.

Figure 2.6: Class size regulations or recommendations in primary education, 2002/03

Figure 2.6: Class size regulations or recommendations in primary education, 2002/03

Source: Eurydice Key Data on Education in Europe 2005

For Scotland the maximum is 30 for P1-P3. A normal maximum of 33 for P4-P7 is contained in 'Salaries and Conditions of Service for Teachers in School Education'. In England and Wales the class size maximum for P1-P3 is 30. There is no statutory maximum class size for P4-P7 in England and Wales. In Estonia, Latvia and Slovakia the upper limits rise to between 34 and 36 pupils, while the lowest maxima, of fewer than 25 pupils, are to be found in Lithuania, Liechtenstein and Bulgaria. Additionally, some countries place a requirement on the minimum number of pupils per class. This number is especially high (between at least 15 and 18 pupils) in Germany, Luxembourg, Slovakia and Bulgaria.

Pupil/teacher ratios - primary education

2.9 Within primary education, the difference in pupil: teacher ratios across countries is considerable. (See Figure 2.7 below.) In 2002/03, the ratio varied from little over 10 pupils for every one teacher in Hungary, to over 20 to one in England. (Scotland is just below at 18 to one.)

Figure 2.7: Ratio of pupils to teaching staff in primary education, 2002/03

Figure 2.7: Ratio of pupils to teaching staff in primary education, 2002/03

Source : Non UK data taken from Education at a Glance ' OECD Indicators 2005'
UK countries taken from relevant statistical publications produced by SEED, DfES and NAfW

2.10 These ratios should not be confused with the size of classes. The sharing of responsibility for a class among teachers working simultaneously, the presence of specialised tutors responsible for supporting pupils with additional support needs ( ASN), and the inclusion of non-teaching management staff in calculations are among factors with a bearing on pupil: teacher ratios that do not affect class sizes.

2.11 In general, class sizes are much greater than pupil: teacher ratios. If all countries are considered as a whole however, a relation may be identified between both indicators in that, wherever pupil: teacher ratios are higher, class sizes are higher.

Pupil/teacher ratios - secondary education

2.12 Within secondary education, most countries report pupil: teacher ratios that vary between 9 (Greece) and 17 (England) pupils per teacher. Figure 2.8 shows that Scotland is among the lower PTR countries, reporting 13 pupils per teacher.

Figure 2.8: Ratio of pupils to teaching staff in secondary education, 2002/03

Figure 2.8: Ratio of pupils to teaching staff in secondary education, 2002/03

Source : Non UK data taken from Education at a Glance ' OECD Indicators 2005'
UK countries taken from relevant statistical publications produced by SEED, DfES and NAfW

Pupils in mathematics classes at age 15

2.13 Average class sizes in mathematics as reported in the PISA 2003 survey (see Figure 2.9, below) range from around 14 pupils in Liechtenstein to over 26 in France.

Figure 2.9: Distribution of pupils aged 15, by size of their mathematics class, public and private sectors combined, 2002/03

Figure 2.9: Distribution of pupils aged 15, by size of their mathematics class, public and private sectors combined, 2002/03

Source: Eurydice Key Data on Education in Europe 2005

These variations are similar to those observed in primary education. In most countries the average class size is between 20 and 23 pupils, except:

  • in Denmark, Finland, Sweden, Iceland and Liechtenstein it is under 20 and;
  • in the Czech Republic, France, Slovakia and Scotland it is over 23.

Attainment - PISA 2003 study

2.14 Figures 2.10, 2.11, and 2.12 show the relative position of Scotland, Finland, the Netherlands and Denmark in the PISA 2003 study. Finland performs better than Scotland in all three subject areas (Mathematics, Reading and Science); the Netherlands perform better in maths and similar to Scotland in reading and science; Denmark performs similar to Scotland in maths and less well in reading and science.

Fig 2.10

PISA 2003: Maths literacy

Fig 2.11

PISA 2003: Reading literacy

Fig 2.12

PISA 2003: Science literacy

Attainment - Secondary and Tertiary education

2.15 Figures 2.13 and 2.14 show the relative position of Scotland, Finland, the Netherlands and Denmark in upper secondary and tertiary degree and higher degree level attainment taken from national Labour Force Surveys. 6

2.16 In relation to at least upper secondary education, Figure 2.13 illustrates that both Denmark (81%) and Finland (76%) outperformed Scotland (68%), with the Netherlands slightly below at 66%. All four countries are above the OECD mean of 65.6%.

2.17 In relation to tertiary education, both Denmark (25%) and the Netherlands (22%) outperformed Scotland (18%),with Finland slightly below at 16%. The OECD average was 16%.

Figure 2.13: Percentage of the population aged 25-64 that has attained at least upper secondary education, 2003

Figure 2.13: Percentage of the population aged 25-64 that has attained at least upper secondary education, 2003

Figure 2.14: Percentage of the population aged 25-64 that has attained tertiary-type A and advanced research programmes, 2003

Figure 2.14: Percentage of the population aged 25-64 that has attained tertiary-type A and advanced research programmes, 2003

Support staff

2.18 In Scotland, the Classroom Assistants Initiative (announced in 1998 and designed to raise attainment by freeing teachers' time to teach), saw 4,334 full-time equivalent classroom assistants in place by 2002 and the primary pupil: adult ratio at education authority level reduced to 15:1. Furthermore a commitment within "A Teaching Profession for the 21 st Century" was to introduce the equivalent of approximately 3,500 additional support staff in schools by 2004. These included classroom assistants in secondary schools, bursars, administrative/secretarial and ICT support staff.

2.19 Additional funding has also been provided to education authorities to help schools deal more effectively with challenging pupils and those with social, emotional or behavioural difficulties. The aim was to free teachers to do what they do best, teach; help all pupils learn undisturbed; and help deal intensively with those pupils who need it most. Tables 2.1 and 2.2 provide a comparison of support staff and pupil: adult ratios between Scotland and England in 2004 and also a breakdown of support staff in Scotland in 2004.

Table 2.1: Support staff and Pupil Adult ratios in September 2004 - Comparison with England 3

England (1)

Scotland (2)

Primary

Classroom/Teaching Assistants (3)

70,319

4,396

Teachers

180,610

22,577

Pupils

4,204,500

398,100

Pupil/adult ratio

17

15

Secondary

Classroom/Teaching Assistants

14,372

742

Teachers

198,080

24,984

Pupils

3,316,050

318,065

Pupil/adult ratio

16

12

(1) Figures from January 2005. Source: DfES.
(2) September 2004. Based on classroom assistants and other classroom based staff excluding SEN auxiliaries. Source: Teachers in Scotland 2004.
(3) Schools in Scotland employ classrooms assistants. In England, schools employ teaching assistants. The roles and responsibilities of classroom and teaching assistants are different.

Table 2.2: Breakdown of Support Staff in Scotland, 2004

Support Staff

2004

Primary

Secondary

Special

SEN auxiliary or care assistant

3,240

1,380

1,008

Classroom Assistant

4,366

618

128

Foreign Language Assistant

30

124

0

Other Classroom Staff

1,037

510

437

Other Non-Classroom Staff

3,973

4,224

414

Total

12,646

6,856

1,987

Source: Teachers in Scotland 2004

2.20 Austria, Cyprus, Czech Republic, Finland, France, Germany, Greece, Ireland, Malta, Poland, Netherlands, Spain and the rest of the UK all replied to a question on the Eurydice "Extranet" about the support that teachers receive within the classroom from other adults to help with general administrative tasks or to support learning and teaching (but not additional support needs). In the majority of countries there is little or no support of this type. However, some kind of support for headteachers in financial matters and general administration is more common.

2.21 The teacher support that does exist (apart from ASN) tends to be an ad-hoc arrangement occasionally involving parents. Exceptions are in Austria where they use peripatetic teachers and in Malta where they have "resource teachers". The rest of the UK makes use of teaching assistants. There are some changes to the role in England and Wales including the creation of Higher Level Teaching Assistants. France has also recently introduced the use of "education assistants".

Conclusions

2.22 International conclusions need to be treated with some caution as definitions vary across countries and contextual factors need to be taken into account. It can be difficult to be confident that like is being compared with like. However given the evidence presented in this chapter the following broad conclusions can be reached:

  • There is no clear relationship between overall investment in education in a single year and attainment.
  • Scotland's investment per pupil based on 2002 figures is in line with the OECD average for primary education and above the average in secondary. In addition, investment since 2001 is likely to have increased at above the average international level, given the investment following the agreement 'A Teaching Profession for the 21 st Century'.
  • In general, class sizes are greater than pupil: teacher ratios, as pupil teacher ratios often include teachers supporting individual pupils and non-teaching management staff. In Scotland, pupil: teacher ratios in primary and secondary schools are in the middle of the range of comparator countries (Denmark, Finland, and the Netherlands).
  • The concept of the classroom assistant is not that common in the rest of Europe. Scotland is in the minority in providing support in the classroom apart from some additional support needs.