Why Pisa plans to ask students if they think their teachers are racist

OECD study will also probe teenagers’ cultural understanding and knowledge of world issues

Pupils will be asked whether they think their teachers are racist under proposals for a new element of Pisa, the world’s most influential education rankings.

The questions will form part of a survey designed to assess whether pupils are properly prepared for a globalised world. It is planned for the 2018 round of Pisa (the Programme for International Student Assessment).

Under the plans, 15-year-olds completing the survey in England and scores of other countries would be asked whether their teachers:

  1. Say negative things about people of some cultural or ethnic groups.
  2. Have lower academic expectations of students of some cultural or ethnic groups.
  3. Talk in a respectful way about people from all cultural and ethnic groups.

Shaping the learning environment

Andreas Schleicher, director for education and skills at the Organisation for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD), which runs Pisa, said that it was vital to measure pupils’ perceptions of their teacher’s attitudes to different cultures and ethnicities. “It is an important factor that shapes the students and their learning environment,” he told TES.

The idea has received a mixed reaction from teaching unions. Malcolm Trobe, interim general secretary of the Association of School and College Leaders, warned that a questionnaire was a “crude and potentially unreliable” way to explore the influence of teachers’ attitudes on students.

But Mary Bousted, general secretary of the ATL teaching union, said: “I think the questions are acceptable. We are not going to find out about people’s perceptions of their teachers unless the questions are asked.”

This is an edited article from the 20 May edition of TES. [Subscribers can read the full article here. This week’s TES magazine is available in all good newsagents. To download the digital edition, Android users can click here and iOS users can click here

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