The 5 Most Important Things In Today’s OECD 2018 Briefing

The OECD has published its annual education at a glance report, which compares various education statistics between its 36 member countries.

Here are the main points relating to the UK…

1. UK has the youngest primary school teachers

The teaching workforce in the UK is one of the youngest among all OECD countries, having become younger since 2005, according to the report.

At primary level the workforce is now the youngest compared with all other countries, with 31 per cent of teachers who are aged 30 or younger. This is much higher than the OECD average of 12 per cent.

Meanwhile the workforce is the second youngest after Turkey for secondary education.

2. Secondary heads are some of the best paid

In England, secondary school headteachers earn more than twice the salary of other tertiary-educated workers, and also more than twice those of actual secondary teachers.

This is the “highest premium” for school heads compared to teachers across OECD countries.

Finally, the report notes that secondary school headteachers play an active role in decision-making and leadership in the UK.

3. But classroom teachers earn less than average

In contrast to the general trend across OECD countries, teachers’ statutory salaries in England fell in real terms between 2005 and 2017, by about 10 per cent.

Teachers earn less than average at all levels of education in the UK compared with the OECD average, says the report.

The good news is that salary levels progress relatively rapidly compared to most countries.

Teachers’ salaries “increase considerably” after 15 years’ experience, and exceed the OECD average across most levels of education.

However, salary progression slows down after that, resulting in top-of-scale salaries that “lag behind” those elsewhere.

4. England has the third highest degree of school autonomy

England has the highest degree of school autonomy among OECD countries after the Czech Republic and the Netherlands with nearly two-thirds of the decisions taken at the school level.

This makes England among the few countries where local authorities, schools and teachers are free to decide how much time should be allocated to each compulsory subject.

Only the Netherlands has a similar arrangement.

5. Most teachers are women

The majority of the UK’s teaching workforce are women, in line with other countries.

But at secondary level, 36 per cent of teachers were men, which is almost five percentage points higher than the average across OECD countries (31 per cent).


Education secretary Damian Hinds said the OECD study “shows the great progress we have made in our efforts, highlighting the many strengths of our education system.”

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  1. OECD made the same point about school autonomy in 2010: the UK was among four countries which allowed schools a high degree of freedom including time allocation and type of resources.

    Strangely enough, this wasn’t picked up by the Coalition which said (loudly) the only way schools could gain freedom and shake off the shackles of LA ‘control’ was to become academies.

    Eight years later and any school which joined a MAT no longer has a separate legal identity and trustees not local governors or heads make the decisions. Some freedom.