Analysis puts Britain 15th in a table comparing the number of 15-year-olds achieving top grades in maths, reading and science. This is from the Guardian…
The results from international standardised tests administered by the OECD show that while 4.6% of UK’s 15-year-olds achieve the highest grades in the three core subjects – 15th overall, and above the OECD average of 4.1% – the country sits well behind some of its European, Asian and Pacific rivals.
Nearly one in eight students from Singapore gain high scores in maths, science and reading, and one in 10 from New Zealand. Shanghai topped the OECD’s league table with 14.6% of students, while Finland was the best in Europe with 8.5%.
The OECD said the results were important to show the depth of a nation’s talent pool for future economic growth, with the most proficient students being the most likely innovators and producers of new knowledge and technologies.
Andreas Schleicher, the OECD’s deputy director for education and skills, said: “High-level skills across the three key subject areas are critical if countries are to create workers able to compete in the global market for jobs. But the UK produces fewer than 5% of these all-rounders, while jurisdictions like Shanghai and Singapore have more than double that.”
Among its European peers, the UK performed similarly to Germany and France, but all three were outperformed by the Dutch, Belgians and Swiss. In comparison, Austria, Denmark and Italy all fell below the OECD average, with Spain and Greece further back. Schleicher said the changes introduced at secondary school level had the potential to overhaul the country’s performance on international rankings.
“Reforms to the education system hold the promise to raise standards in science, reading and maths, and will enable the UK to compete on the global stage,” he said.
How significant do you believe these findings to be? Is the concept of producing “all-rounders” one we should be concerned with? Does it not effectively mean a concentration of top grades in fewer students – and is that a good thing? Should we be pleased to be achieving above average on the measure or worried that certain other countries in Europe are even better?