UK children plummet down science league table

The Government faces further embarrassment over standards of education, after Britain plummeted down yet another international league table this time for science.

According to a new set of rankings from the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development, Britain's schools are ranked at 14th place, 10 places lower than the last time a similar survey was conducted in 2000.

The ranking puts the quality of science taught in Britain's schools behind Slovenia, Estonia and Liechtenstein but still in the top third of world nations.

The findings follow a dismal performance in a broader international league table published this week which revealed a dramatic drop in primary school children's reading ability. England fell from third to 15th out of 47 countries in reading standards, the third highest drop behind Romania and Morocco over the past five years.

The Tories accused the Government of failing to equip the younger generation to compete in a global market. "Yesterday we slid down the international reading league table; today we plummeted down the international science league table," said the shadow Schools Secretary, Michael Gove.

"The Government has failed to equip our children properly for the future by using tried and tested teaching methods. It has failed to keep us internationally competitive by making sure our exams are properly rigorous."

The OECD's work formed part of its three yearly survey, the Programme for International Student Assessment (Pisa).

During 2006 Pisa assessed the competencies of 15-year-old students through an extensive two-hour test. More than 400,000 students from 57 countries close to 90 per cent of the world economy took part. The focus was on science but the assessment also included reading and mathematics.

The OECD warned that comparing results with previous years was not "strictly" valid because of changes in the tests. But the last time the UK took part in the Pisa survey in 2000 it was ranked fourth.

The Department for Children, Schools and Families yesterday stressed that direct comparisons with previous surveys could not be made with certainty and that once the full findings are released Britain's science standard would still be "among the countries with the largest numbers of high achieving students".

Michael Harris, research manager at the National Endowment for Science Technology and Arts, called the Pisa league table "cause for concern".

Start your day with The Independent, sign up for daily news emails
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
ebooks
ebooksA special investigation by Andy McSmith
  • Get to the point
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs Education

Imperial College London: Safety Training Administrator

£25,880 – £28,610 per annum: Imperial College London: Imperial College London ...

University College London: Client Platform Support Officer

£26,976 - £31,614 per annum: University College London: UCL Information Servic...

Guru Careers: Instructional Designer / e-Learning Designer

£30 - 32k (DOE): Guru Careers: We are seeking an Instructional / e-Learning De...

Recruitment Genius: Schools Education & Careers Executive

£30500 per annum: Recruitment Genius: A Schools Education & Careers Executive ...

Day In a Page

General Election 2015: The masterminds behind the scenes

The masterminds behind the election

How do you get your party leader to embrace a message and then stick to it? By employing these people
Machine Gun America: The amusement park where teenagers go to shoot a huge range of automatic weapons

Machine Gun America

The amusement park where teenagers go to shoot a huge range of automatic weapons
The ethics of pet food: Why are we are so selective in how we show animals our love?

The ethics of pet food

Why are we are so selective in how we show animals our love?
How Tansy Davies turned 9/11 into her opera 'Between Worlds'

How a composer turned 9/11 into her opera 'Between Worlds'

Tansy Davies makes her operatic debut with a work about the attack on the Twin Towers. Despite the topic, she says it is a life-affirming piece
11 best bedside tables

11 best bedside tables

It could be the first thing you see in the morning, so make it work for you. We find night stands, tables and cabinets to wake up to
Italy vs England player ratings: Did Andros Townsend's goal see him beat Harry Kane and Wayne Rooney to top marks?

Italy vs England player ratings

Did Townsend's goal see him beat Kane and Rooney to top marks?
Danny Higginbotham: An underdog's tale of making the most of it

An underdog's tale of making the most of it

Danny Higginbotham on being let go by Manchester United, annoying Gordon Strachan, utilising his talents to the full at Stoke and plunging into the world of analysis
Audley Harrison's abusers forget the debt he's due, but Errol Christie will always remember what he owes the police

Steve Bunce: Inside Boxing

Audley Harrison's abusers forget the debt he's due, but Errol Christie will always remember what he owes the police
No postcode? No vote

Floating voters

How living on a houseboat meant I didn't officially 'exist'
Louis Theroux's affable Englishman routine begins to wear thin

By Reason of Insanity

Louis Theroux's affable Englishman routine begins to wear thin
Power dressing is back – but no shoulderpads!

Power dressing is back

But banish all thoughts of Eighties shoulderpads
Spanish stone-age cave paintings 'under threat' after being re-opened to the public

Spanish stone-age cave paintings in Altamira 'under threat'

Caves were re-opened to the public
'I was the bookies’ favourite to be first to leave the Cabinet'

Vince Cable interview

'I was the bookies’ favourite to be first to leave the Cabinet'
Election 2015: How many of the Government's coalition agreement promises have been kept?

Promises, promises

But how many coalition agreement pledges have been kept?
The Gaza fisherman who built his own reef - and was shot dead there by an Israeli gunboat

The death of a Gaza fisherman

He built his own reef, and was fatally shot there by an Israeli gunboat