Pisa rankings: Why Estonian pupils shine in global tests

Estonia is Europe’s newest education powerhouse. It outperforms the major European economies, including the UK, in influential global education tests. The BBC reports.

In the Pisa results published in 2016, Estonia came third in science while the UK was ranked 15th, and in reading Estonia was ranked sixth – far above the UK’s 22nd place.

UK spending on education is relatively high compared to the average across larger economies, but the same is not true of this small Baltic state.

Estonia has made high quality early years education a priority.

Almost every child in Estonia comes to Kindergarten from the age of three, or even earlier.

Kindergartens expect children to learn through play directed by teachers, with some more formal learning gradually introduced.

This is where Estonia begins to level up the attainment of all children, by making sure as many as possible are emotionally and physically ready to learn.

That result, according to the Pisa tests, in a smaller gap between rich and poor by the time they’re teenagers.

Teachers have a relatively high level of freedom to take risks in how they design lessons, says Rando Kuustik, principal of Jakob Westholmi Gumnaasium in the Estonian capital, with almost 1,000 pupils and around 80 staff.

“I think the teachers are the main reason why we are doing so well, with the freedom to make their lessons, and the students are eager to learn. “

When Estonia regained independence from Russia, it looked to its neighbour Finland for education ideas.

Read more about the way they learn with little testing and freedom to teach and learn in mixed ability classes. Pisa rankings: Why Estonian pupils shine in global tests 


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