UK schools lag behind Asian rivals in global league tables
Tories and Labour blame each other for 'stagnation' of standards in maths, reading and science
PUPILS in Britain are falling behind their contemporaries in Asia in core school subjects, according to new global education rankings released today.
Results from the Program for International Student Assessment (Pisa), based on tests of 500,000 pupils in 65 countries, will reveal that the UK has "simply stagnated" since its last poor rankings four years ago. Pisa's figures are compiled by the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development.
In the UK, 12,638 students sat the two-hour problem-solving tests in 477 secondary schools – but their results put the UK behind China, South Korea and Singapore in maths, reading and science.
There is predicted to be little change since 2009, when the UK fell from 17th to 25th for reading, from 24th to 28th for maths and from 14th to 16th in science, slumping behind poorer countries such as Poland and Estonia.
About a fifth of 15-year-olds in Britain in 2009 failed to gain even the minimum standard expected for their age group in literacy and maths.
Labour and the Conservatives are trying to blame each other for the results. Writing in the Sunday Times, Tristram Hunt, the shadow education secretary, says the results are a "wake-up call for UK schools policy".
Education Secretary Michael Gove's "frenetic, attention-seeking changes of the last three years — relentless structural reforms, last minute curriculum rewrites, multiplying assessment criteria — have not delivered the step change in standards we need", he said.
But Gove has hit back, saying the results are a "judgment on the past not the present".
In Monday's Daily Telegraph, he accuses Labour of producing a "lost generation of young people without proper qualifications".
The teenagers who took the OECD tests last year are of the Blair/Brown generation, he says. Pointing to Coalition reforms such as the introduction of academies and free schools, he adds: "We must all ensure that we accelerate the pace of those reforms that we know — from the experience of other nations — will promise our own children a brighter future." ·