While other countries have improved their numeracy and literacy standards, the UK’s have stalled; our 15 year-olds are now years behind their international peers.
500,000 15 year-old pupils took the two-hour tests in maths, reading and science in 65 countries and regions, with the latest PISA report placing Shanghai at the top and Peru at the bottom of the ratings, The Independent reports.
The UK’s performance is stagnating despite all the investment and interventions in education; in 2012 we came 26th in maths, 23rd in reading and 20th in science, not dissimilar to the 2009 rankings of 27th, 26th and 20th respectively. Wales has fallen behind the rest of the UK, dropping from 20th in science to joint 36th, falling three places in maths and now ranking 41 in reading, down from 38 three years ago.
Critics are questioning the methodology of the tests and there are warnings about reading too much into the results, with fears that education will become too narrowly focused on the three subjects assessed.
The results triggered a battle of war between Michael Gove and his Labour counterpart Tristram Hunt. Mr. Gove claimed that the stagnation was the last government’s fault and nothing to do with his policies, while Mr. Hunt accused the Coalition of “failing to confront the international challenge we face”.
The latest PISA has raised concerns about whether education spending has been targeted effectively. The UK spends the equivalent of just over $98,000 per head on six to 15-year-olds, compared with an international average of just under $83,400; South Korea, one of the highest performing countries in maths, spent well below this.
What’s your take on the latest PISA results? How can the UK – and Wales in particular – do better in the international league tables?