TALIS focuses on the learning environment and the working conditions of teachers of 11- to 14-year-olds. It has been designed by the OECD (Organisation for Economic Cooperation and Development) to enable the governments of advanced industrialised countries to learn from each other. It is a collaborative endeavour between the governments of 30+ countries, an international consortium, the OECD, schools and teachers' unions. England is participating for the first time in 2013.

Issues explored by TALIS include: teachers’ approaches to teaching, the use of performance management to assess their development needs, the support and professional development opportunities they receive and the ethos/attitudes of school leaders. A total of 200 randomly selected state-funded and independent schools and 20 randomly selected teachers within each school will be invited to participate in the survey in spring 2013. It is compulsory under the Education Act 2011 for all maintained schools and academies established since October 2011 who are selected, to take part. Further details on the Education Act are available online.

For further information, please visit the TALIS England website.

 This Government says it is committed to giving state-funded schools more autonomy and to reducing burdens on them. Given that, why should I commit my school to something that will mean extra work for my staff?

It is precisely because the Government is so committed to reducing the burdens on schools that it instigated: 

  • an initial moratorium on research planned, and in its early implementation stages;
  • a review of how the Department communicates and interacts with schools in relation to policy/legislative requirements; and
  • a top to bottom review of its data and research needs. 

The purpose of the latter was to ensure that these needs are better defined internally, the material collected is used more effectively and the level of demand for data is significantly reduced. That said, the Secretary of State (SoS) is committed to research/assessment programmes which enable us to compare ourselves with high performing education systems internationally and to learn from examples of good practice found elsewhere. 

To reflect the Government’s commitment to international education surveys and the importance of high participation rates, the Education Act 2011 requires that maintained schools selected to take part in international surveys should do so. For many academies, similar arrangements are made via their funding agreements. For further details on the Education Act, please see http://services.parliament.uk/bills/2010-11/education.htmlpp 

 What will we actually have to do?

RM Data Solutions (the national contractors) have implemented the OECD’s methodology to make it as efficient and user-friendly as possible. In the first instance, you will be asked to nominate someone to be the school’s coordinator for the project – a person who will administer the survey in your school. They will be our main contact thereafter and carry out any necessary tasks on-line, via the dedicated TALIS England website’s secure portal. Assistance for coordinators will be constantly available from the RM helpdesk from now until the end of the survey. 

You yourself will be asked to complete a questionnaire either online, using the secure portal which can also be accessed by the researchers – or on paper which you can post directly back to the National Study Centre in the reply-paid envelope provided.  Your teachers will likewise have the same choice of on-line or paper-based options.

 Will I be able to see the data – or a report – specific to my school?

No. This is because with just 20 teachers in each school sampled, it might be possible to identify individuals. Teachers must feel assured that their views/experiences are given in complete confidence and that they can answer questions frankly.

 How much of a teacher’s time is it likely to take?

It depends on how much thought they give to certain of the questions, but completing the questionnaire will normally take around 45-50 minutes. The questionnaire can be completed in bite-sized chunks, as and when teachers have a few minutes to devote to it. Your own questionnaire is likely to take approximately the same amount of time.

 How long is the survey running? Will we be pushed to get this done in just a couple of weeks?

The survey will run over a four-week period during spring 2013.

 My school may be legally obliged to take part in the survey, but what’s actually in it for the school and for my teachers?

The research findings will provide important learning for headteachers and their SMTs about how the world’s leading education systems performance manage, support and develop their staff. This could lead to better staff management and assessment practices, more (and more innovative) development opportunities for your staff – and ensure/sustain high quality teaching. Taking part in TALIS is a chance for members of the profession to have their say and influence policy-making – and to learn of management and teaching practices which may ultimately benefit their pupils. We believe that you and your staff will find the questions interesting and relevant to the experience of managing and teaching in your school.