When it comes to learning, the importance of great teachers can’t be underestimated, not least because teachers have a significant influence on student achievement. Almost everyone can name a teacher who stands out in their memory because they were particularly engaging, encouraging or inspiring. 

Using data from more than 500,000 studies, Professor John Hattie, Director of the Melbourne Education Research Institute at the University of Melbourne and a lead investigator in the Science of Learning Research Centre, conducted a meta-analysis and ranked various influences on student learning and achievement.

He found that the impact teachers have on student learning is greater than other factors that often dominate public debate, such as class size, technology, individualised instruction, streaming by ability and changing school calendars or timetables.

The influences with the most effect, by far, were teacher-related: both teachers’ expectations for their students and their level of expertise topped the list. For teachers to inspire students, they need to make the effort to understand their own impact and what methods work best in the classroom.

In contrast, Prof Hattie found that repeating students, and teachers who have low expectations or label their students according to ability, have low or even negative impacts on learning achievement.