Richard Garner: PISA test results are a disappointment but we should look to the future
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.
Tuesday 03 December 2013
There is no way that the results of this year’s international PISA test results can be summed up as anything other than a disappointment for the UK.
Having said that, I would have preferred more of a focus on what can be done now rather than the ping-pong game conducted by Education Secretary Michael Gove and Labour education spokesman over who is to blame.
It is true they are no reflection on Mr Gove’s reforms which were still taking their time to bed down when the UK 15-year-olds were sitting their tests. They also do seem to show that you need to do more than pour money at a problem - increased spending in the UK appears to have been less effective than reduced spending in other countries.
Equally, they pose a question mark over whether the UK’s attempts to introduce performance related pay for teachers will have the radical impact necessary - or whether we would be better implementing a scheme like they have in top performing Shanghai where no-one can progress to vice-principal of a top performing school without having served time turning a deprived school round beforehand.
Also, I would tentatively ask whether a result which sees us moving from 27th in maths to 26th and from 25th in reading to 23rd is quite the “dis ... AAS ... ter, darling” - as Strictly Come Dancing’s Craig Revel Horwood would put it - that some people make out.
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