English pupils 'two years behind' Asian peers in maths
Research shows growing gap between students in the UK and those in Taiwan and Hong Kong
Richard Garner has been Education Editor of The Independent for 12 years and writing about the subject for 34 years. Before becoming a journalist, he worked as a disc jockey in London pubs and clubs and for a hospital radio station. His main hobbies are cricket (watching these days) and theatre. On his days off, he is most likelt to be found at Lord’s or the King’s Head Theatre Club.
Friday 22 February 2013
England's brightest maths pupils are two years behind those in the Far East by the time they take their GCSEs, according to an international study published today.
The gap emerges during their secondary schooling, it shows, revealing that at the age of 10 they are still the equal of their peers in places such as Taiwan and Hong Kong.
The study, by researchers at the University of London's Institute of Education, reveals that the best English pupils also appear to be losing ground to their European peers between the ages of 10 and 16.
The findings confirm fears that the UK's brightest children are not being stretched at school. Last month, chief schools inspector Sir Michael Wilshaw ordered a "rapid response survey" to show how state schools teach their most able children.
Dr John Jerrim, one of the authors of the report, described the findings as "worrying". But he warned against concentrating on tackling problems in secondary schools, arguing that earlier intervention was necessary. Some pupils were already some distance behind those in East Asia by the time they were 10, he added. The study, by Dr Jerrim and Dr Alvaro Choi, analysed children's performance in two world-renowned international studies of attainment – the Programme for International Student Assessment (Pisa) and the Trends in Mathematics Study (Timms).
Dr Jerrim and Dr Choi say greater attention needs to be paid to the most abler students as they could be vital for the future of British industry – although they caution against dividing pupils into different ability groups at an early age, saying this could be counter-productive.
They add that some of the problems may well be outside of the school system to solve: "Cultural and social factors might be behind these countries' (in the Far East) strong Pisa and Timms test performance. In East Asian cultures, education has historically been highly valued. This can be seen not only in teachers' high salaries but also in the heavy investment of families in private tutoring services."
"It's also worth remembering, of course, that factors which can lead to improved academic performance can have negative side-effects, such as increased psychological pressure on students and greater financial demands on parents.
"Yet, in an increasingly competitive world... such a cultural shift may be necessary to ensure England's future prosperity."
Schools minister Elizabeth Truss blamed Labour for the decline in pupils' performance, adding: "Based on data between 2003 and 2009 it shows that our top pupils actually lose ground as they get older, not just with their peers in the Far East, but with those in every other country."
University to mark down students who say 'illegal immigrants' in class
Rules on 5p plastic bags likely to lead to arguments at the check-out
The nine most warmongering countries in the world revealed
Blood Moon and Supermoon: September to bring brightest – and dimmest – full Moon of the year on same night
VMAs 2015: Taylor Swift wins big, Kanye West runs for US president, Nicki Minaj calls out Miley Cyrus and all of tonight's winners
Climate change: 2015 will be the hottest year on record 'by a mile', experts say
'Women only' train carriages: Jeremy Corbyn unveils radical move to tackle public harassment
Black holes are a passage to another universe, says Stephen Hawking
Tony Blair attacks Jeremy Corbyn's 'Alice In Wonderland' politics
Theresa May says migrants should be banned from entering the UK unless they have jobs lined up
Iain Duncan Smith 'should resign over disability benefit death figures', says Jeremy Corbyn
- 1 A daily walk 'can add seven years to your life'
- 2 Rules on 5p plastic bags likely to lead to arguments at the check-out
- 3 Chrissie Hynde says women who 'wear high heels and dress provocatively entice rapists'
- 4 Blood Moon and Supermoon: September to bring brightest – and dimmest – full Moon of the year on same night
- 5 News agency criticised for describing Amal Clooney as 'actor's wife' in coverage of human rights trial
Negotiable: AER Teachers: Outstanding East London primary school seeking an Ea...
Negotiable: AER Teachers: Southwark primary School looking for teaching assist...
£24,451 - £27,061 per annum: Royal College of Music: The Royal College of Musi...
£35 - £45k DOE + Benefits: Guru Careers: A Marketing / Optimisation Analyst is...