- British Council survey to mark World Teachers’ Day (5 October) reveals that 68% of parents in Northern Ireland feel teachers are under more pressure than when they were at school, versus 34% of parents in Scotland and 47% in Wales
- Parents in Northern Ireland are more concerned than other UK Nations about funding for schools being the main challenge teachers face (55% compared to 44% in England, 38% in Scotland and 43% in Wales)
- 89% of parents in Northern Ireland believe teachers play an important role in society
- The majority (88%) of NI parents surveyed agreed it was beneficial for children to learn about other countries and different cultures around the world
- More than three quarters (77%) believed it was important for children to learn other languages at school, with Spanish the most popular language of choice
Northern Ireland teachers are now ‘under more pressure’, according to parents in a new survey commissioned by the British Council.
This new research, which was conducted by OnePoll, surveyed 2,500 parents of UK school schoolchildren between the ages of five and 16 to mark World Teachers’ Day today (Wednesday, 5 October).
The poll asked parents a series of multiple-choice questions about the school curriculum, teachers, and how modern schools differed to their own.
Sixty-eight percent of respondents in Northern Ireland felt teachers are under more pressure today than when they were at school, compared to 44% in England, 38% in Scotland and 43% in Wales.
When asked the biggest challenges faced by teachers, 55% of parents in Northern Ireland are concerned about funding for schools (compared to 44% in England, 38% in Scotland and 43% in Wales). Other challenges include children and young people’s mental health (49%), followed by too busy/too much paperwork (39%).
However, according to the survey, the majority of parents in Northern Ireland believe that teachers have a significant influence on shaping the lives of children and young people. Eighty-nine per cent of parents in Northern Ireland agree that teachers play an important role in society, this was compared to 59% of respondents in Scotland. Sixty-two per cent of parents in Northern Ireland also felt that children’s teachers will have an impact on their future, compared to 44% of respondents in Scotland.
Surprisingly then, respondents in Northern Ireland were the most likely to believe that teachers could be replaced by technology. With 22% believing teachers could be replaced in all subjects, compared to 5% in Scotland, 2% in Wales and 15% in England.
When asked what subjects they thought pupils should be taught outside of the core curriculum, 59% said personal finance, including budget management, should feature. The second most popular option was mental health awareness which was selected by 55% of respondents, followed by domestic skills or household maintenance at 52%. Unprompted lesson suggestions from parents included sign language and first-aid.
Meanwhile, the majority (88%) of parents surveyed agreed it was beneficial for their children to learn about other countries and different cultures around the world, with more than two fifths (58%) strongly agreeing.
More than three quarters of respondents (77%) thought it was important for children to learn another language at school, with 75% of parents selecting Spanish as the most important foreign language to learn in the future. French was the second highest at 60%, followed by German at 36%.
These findings align with results from British Council Northern Ireland’s most recent Language Trends 2021 report which found Spanish has become the most popular A-level language and will soon overtake French as the most popular language at GCSE.
Jonathan Stewart, Director British Council Northern Ireland, said: “On World Teachers’ Day it is fantastic to see such high value placed on teachers and the role they play in society, and it’s clear that opportunities for children to learn other languages and explore different cultures are also highly prized.
“At the British Council, teachers are at the heart of our work in education, and we aim to support them by bringing an international dimension to their work, through the provision of classroom teaching resources and professional development opportunities supporting the Northern Ireland curriculum.”
Each year, the British Council supports 15 million teachers and 100 million learners worldwide through its online courses and communities. In Northern Ireland, they bring an international dimension to teaching and learning in schools through international links, professional development opportunities, curriculum resources, classroom support and awards. Upcoming opportunities include international study visits for teachers, focusing on mental health for school leaders, newcomer integration and entrepreneurial skills.
The British Council is the UK’s leading cultural relations organisation, creating global opportunities in arts and culture, education and the English language. For more information on current opportunities in Northern Ireland, visit nireland.britishcouncil.org, or follow on on Twitter, Facebook or Instagram.