According to an analysis of international tests, schools in London are falling behind many of their global competitors. The capital’s schools have been held up as a measure of raising standards, however the University College London (UCL) Institute of Education Study, using OECD PISA test results, suggest that they are in-fact weaker than those in many Asian and European countries.
Andreas Schleicher, the OECD’s education director however believes that the findings are “not credible”. The director claimed that the London schools who offered the Programme for International Student Assessment (PISA) tests were not intended to be a representation of Greater London and such comparisons to other cities are invalid.
But the report authors at the UCL Institute of Education believe they have produced a robust sample comprising of 42 London schools and by combining the results of two year groups who took the tests in 2009 and 2012. The analysis compares the results from the 42 London schools, in reading, maths and science with the performance of 15 year olds in differing cities, regions and countries around the world.
The findings showed that the capital’s teenagers lagged behind their peers in many other major cities worldwide by at least half a year of schooling. According to the findings, pupils in the Latvian capital, Riga outperformed pupils from London in maths and reading. Pupils in Shanghai were found to be three years ahead of their British peers in mathematics by the time they reached secondary school.
The leading author of the study Dr John Jerrim believes that “Despite strong performance in England’s national examinations, educational achievement in London remains some way behind other leading economies”. Dr Jerrim continued to state that London’s schools have rightly been lauded in recent years for improving standards. However London’s comparatively poor PISA results stem from certain groups underperforming. According to Dr Jerrim the groups that underperformed for London in comparison to their GCSE grades included girls, ethnic minorities and students from lower socio-economic groups.
Schools in London did manage to out perform some of their international peers with results indicating that London’s pupils were up to two years ahead of the poorest performing places including Rio de Janerio and Mexico State.
Whilst London’s pupils do receive the best results in the country at GCSE level this research indicates that the British education system still has a long way to improve. But how can we ensure that London and Britain’s students are able to compete with the best in the world? Should the Department for Education start looking abroad for inspiration on improving results? Should we be looking at how the Chinese teach mathematics, how the Latvians teach languages or how the Spanish teach reading? What do you think? Have your say here…