UK expected to lag behind Asia

Dec 3, 2013 by

International league tables comparing school standards are expected to show the UK is failing to catch up high-performing countries in Asia.

The results of Pisa tests, assessing teenagers in reading, science and maths, will be published on Tuesday.

UK government and opposition spokesmen have issued statements anticipating a poor showing in the tables.

School systems in Shanghai, Singapore and South Korea were strong performers in previous tests three years ago.

Pupils in England, Scotland, Northern Ireland and Wales were among 500,000 around the world who took the tests.

The UK was only a middle-ranking, average performer in those tests, overtaken by Asian and Eastern European countries – and it is not expected that the UK will have made progress.

Blame game

The tests, run by the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development, have become a highly influential measure of international education standards.

Changes to the school system in the England have been strongly linked with the need to match competitors in other countries.

“Start Quote

No issue matters more to the UK economy over the long term than the quality of our education system”

Katja Hall CBI chief policy director

Labour’s shadow education secretary Tristram Hunt has said that poor results would be evidence that “frenetic, attention-seeking changes” to the education system are failing to deliver improvements.

But Education Secretary Michael Gove says the forthcoming results will be a “verdict on the last government”.

“These tests were taken in 2012 by children who had been educated almost entirely under Labour and before most of our reforms had even been introduced.

“The real test of our reforms will be how we do in a decade’s time,” said Mr Gove, who is responsible for education policy in England.

The CBI employers’ organisation has emphasised the economic importance of keeping up with international education rivals.

“No issue matters more to the UK economy over the long term than the quality of our education system,” said Katja Hall, the CBI’s chief policy director.

“High-performing schools are the best way to support economic growth and greater opportunity,” she said.

The test results from the OECD will show the big trends in global education standards.

There has already been speculation in Finland that the results will be disappointing, for a country that in the past has been one of the world’s top performers.

In these latest tests, China will be represented by high-performing regional administrations such as Shanghai and Hong Kong – but in future years it is expected there will be enough data for a whole-country figure for China.

via BBC News – Global school tables: UK expected to lag behind Asia.


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