Why schools should pay more attention to students’ mental health and well-being

by Anna Choi 
Analyst, Economist/Analyst at CFE/LESI (Local employment, skills, and social innovation)

The notion of well-being and happiness has increasingly taken centre stage in our societies over the recent years. As Nobel Prize Economist Daniel Kahneman puts it, "there is a huge wave of interest in happiness among researchers. There is a lot of happiness coaching. Everybody would like to make people happier."

In addition to physical health, it has become clear that emotional health is vital for our overall well-being. Children who are in a good state of emotional well-being have higher odds of growing into adults who are happy, confident, and enjoy healthy lifestyles, consequently contributing towards a better society and improving the overall well-being of the population.

Perhaps this emphasis on well-being may reflect the increasing prevalence of emotional ill-being and mental health problems. Across OECD countries, almost one in four adults report experiencing more …

How Japan’s Kosen schools are creating a new generation of innovators

By Andreas Schleicher
Director, Directorate for Education and Skills

Innovation and problem solving depend increasingly on the ability to synthesise disparate elements to create something different and unexpected. This involves curiosity, open-mindedness and making connections between ideas that previously seemed unrelated. It also requires knowledge across a broad range of fields. If we spend our entire lives in the silo of a single discipline, we will not gain the imaginative skills necessary to connect the dots and develop the next life-changing invention.

For schools, then, the challenge is to remain true to disciplines while encouraging interdisciplinary learning and building students’capacity to see problems through multiple lenses. Some countries have been trying to develop cross-curricular capabilities. Japan’s network of Kosen schools is a unique example.

Its president, Isao Taniguchi, showed me around the Tokyo campus last week, and it was one of my most inspiring school visi…

Why access to quality early childhood education and care is a key driver of women’s labour market participation

  by Eric Charbonnier, Analyst, Directorate for Education and Skills

We are in 1961. JF Kennedy is president and has just designated Eleanor Roosevelt as chairwoman of the new US Commission on the Status of Women: "We want to be sure that women are used as effectively as they can to provide a better life for our people, in addition to meeting their primary responsibility, which is in the home." Fifty-seven years ago, women had to make a choice between pursuing a career or having children. Back then, access to early childhood education and care (ECEC) services was reserved for the elite and was not considered a policy priority; maternity leave was rare, while paternity leave was unheard of. This may seem strange now, but just try to think of society in the 1960s. Just think how far we have come since then: In 1961, only 38 % of women were employed in the United States. In 2015, this figure was at 70%.

Don’t be fooled by the upbeat statistics though. Two generations later, ine…

Is physical health linked to better learning?

by Tracey Burns
Senior Analyst, Directorate for Education and Skills

Mahatma Gandhi once said: "it is health that is real wealth and not pieces of gold and silver". And indeed, our physical well-being is key to how we live our lives. But while we don't always make the link between our minds and our bodies, physical health is important for learning, too. 
Children who exercise regularly, have good nutrition and sleep well are more likely to attend school, and do well at school. And the benefits are not just for children: good physical health is associated with enhanced quality of life, increased productivity in the workplace and increased participation in the community and society. 
However, children and young people across the OECD are not engaging enough in the behaviours they need to be healthy. Between 2000 to 2016, PISA data show that children and young people were less likely to reach the minimum recommended daily physical activity levels (>60 minutes of moderate …

The importance of learning from data on education, migration and displacement

by Manos Antoninis, Director, Global Education Monitoring Report
Francesca Borgonovi, Senior Analyst, Directorate for Education and Skills

Migration and displacement are complex phenomena which play an important role in – but can also pose challenges to – development. These phenomena also pose particularly important challenges for education and training systems. Firstly, they can rapidly increase the number of people that require education services, thus challenging both richer countries, which until now had been adjusting to shrinking student populations, and poorer countries, where provision is already stretched, especially in remote areas or slums where migrants and refugees often converge.

Secondly, migration and displacement make classrooms more diverse. This means that the range of strategies teachers need to deploy increases in order to cater for a student population with larger differences in background characteristics, such as the language they speak at home.

Thirdly, educatio…

What makes for a satisfied science teacher?

by Tarek Mostafa
Analyst, Directorate for Education and Skills

Teachers play a vital role in the lives of their students. They impart knowledge, provide pastoral care, act as role models and, above all, create an environment that’s conducive to learning. But teaching is fraught with numerous challenges that could lead to dissatisfaction and ultimately to drop-out from the profession. Science teachers are particularly vulnerable to quitting their jobs given the opportunities that exist outside the teaching profession.

So what makes a science teacher satisfied enough that he or she would want to keep teaching, despite the challenges they might face?

Data from PISA’s 2015 teacher questionnaire provideinteresting evidence.

Science teachers who reported that pursuing a career in the teaching profession was their goal after finishing secondary school are far more satisfied with their jobs and with the profession as a whole. These teachers represent about 58% of all teachers on average across…

How primary and secondary teachers differ and why it matters

by Marie-Helene Doumet, 
Senior Analyst, Directorate for Education and Skills

Learning needs vary as we evolve through life. The early years of education set the stage for children’s well-being, cognitive and social-emotional development; young children starting out in the world require stability, reassurance, and encouragement, and need a warm and caring teacher. At primary school, teachers manage the class, teach all subjects, and help children develop not only basic competencies, but also emotional and social awareness. While this setting still requires a broad knowledge of many subjects, dealing directly with students’ social and emotional development also helps teachers bond with their class, which is essential to learning at such a young age. However, as children progress to high school, learning becomes more about the subject: secondary teachers focus on one or several subjects which they teach to a number of different classes. Their performance will be more strongly evaluated b…