Basic skills performance of Shanghai pupils is 'beyond compare', says OECD

The findings were revealed in a briefing showing how different countries' education systems are performing

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The Independent Online

An education briefing from the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD) usually involves graphs and tables showing how different countries' education systems are performing.

This month's, which compares the basic skills performance of 76 different countries in the OECD's biggest-ever survey, was no exception. Except for one thing. "I can no longer fit Shanghai on the screen, because they keep moving up," says Andreas Schleicher, director of education and skills at the OECD. Shanghai pupils' performance in the basics is now so good that it is beyond comparison.

Meanwhile, it was interesting to note that the findings did not quite fit in with the stereotype that the poor, disadvantaged states are the ones performing worst. Saudi Arabia and Oman languish much nearer the foot of the table than the top, for instance.

"It seems that oil and Pisa (the name given to the international tests in reading, maths and science that are used to rank nations) don't mix," Dr Schleicher says.

"Lord Palmerston famously said that only three people understood the Schleswig-Holstein question," Nick Hillman, director of the Higher Education Policy Institute writes in a new pamphlet on the accounting and budgeting of student loans.

The trio were the Prince Consort, who was dead, a German professor, who had gone mad, and Lord Palmerston himself, who had forgotten all about it.

The same is true for the financial arrangements surrounding student loans. In this case, the trio is: HM Treasury; the Department for Business, Innovation and Skills; and finance expert Andrew McGettigan.

I leave you to speculate on whether one of these is dead, mad or has forgotten all about it. But McGettigan writes extremely lucidly on the subject in the pamphlet, published last week.

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