A major review of education for high performing youngsters from The Sutton Trust has ranked England 26th out of 34 countries in the proportion of 15 year-old pupils reaching the top standards in maths tests – and almost none of them come from state schools.
The headlines mirror the damning report, with ‘Bright children being failed by comprehensive schools’ in The Telegraph and ‘England’s schools ‘ letting future maths stars down’’ on the BBC.
The report’s findings make grim reading: in England only 1.7% of children reached the highest level in maths compared with 7.8% in Switzerland, 5.8% in Belgium and an average of 3.1 % across all OECD countries. The few high performing pupils come mostly from independent and some from grammar schools, with ‘almost no pupils’ from non-selective state schools achieving top levels.
The report blames failure of policies and programmes to do enough to stretch the most able children, describing them as ‘a neglected group’. Professor Alan Smithers, who co-authored the report, said: “Policy and provision for the highly able in England is in a mess….. The key issue is that secondary schools should be held to account for the progress of the highly able.”