Before I start, I think it only fair to point out that these are my first impressions. I have only had 4 months teaching experience in the Latvian education system so I have much more to learn.
The most striking difference for a UK teacher in Latvia is the use of student performance data. In the UK the whole system is data driven. For a teacher it seems to pervade every waking moment of your teaching life; have I analysed my exam data?, have I analysed my school reporting data?, who is meeting target?, who is not meeting target?, why are students not meeting target grades? and on and on it goes. Latvia appears very different. I am not aware of any target grades. I am not even sure if the government does any baseline testing. This lack of target grades certainly reduces one of the main contributors to teacher stress.
The second major difference is the reporting to parents of student attainment. Unlike the UK where reports contain an array of comments and grades for all types of student achievement or non-achievement for all subjects , reporting in Latvia is much more simple. No hours and hours of checking reports for spelling mistakes or grade anomalies. Reports to parents contain an attainment grade for each subject. The grade is calculated by averaging the grades awarded over the semester. One grade for each subject. All work that is marked only receives a grade. No written formative assessment is required. Formative assessment appears to be verbal.
Finally the other major difference appears to be the difference in emphasis between recording what is going to be taught against recording what has been taught. Whereas in the UK hundreds of hours are spent preparing and documenting schemes of work, long term plans, medium term plans and lesson plans, that does not appear to be the case here. The main emphasis appears to be recording what has been taught. This is all recorded on the E-Klase system which all schools use and just needs to be a simple description the like of which a teacher in the UK would record in their planner. I cannot speak for all schools or event all subjects in my school, but I follow the chapters in a textbook for my scheme of work.
So there you have it, the 3 major differences. Which produces the best outcomes for students bis debatable. One final difference; basic teacher salary in Latvia approx. 700 euro/month, in UK approx £2000/month. Still wouldn’t swap my life though.