Chalk Talk: Impressive results in the Far East - a 'shadow' over plans to improve our schools?
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.
Wednesday 05 February 2014
The vogue is to marvel at the achievements of Far Eastern education systems such as South Korea, Japan and Shanghai in China. After all, they performed far better than us in the international Pisa (Programme for International Student Assessment) tests in literacy and numeracy so we should be able to learn something from them.
Perhaps, though, a note of caution should be sounded before our education leaders stampede to the airports. A blog posted by a Japan-based educationalist on the website of Schools Improvement Net, dedicated to sharing ideas about improving school standards, gives another explanation.
It seems, according to education writer, Manabu Watanbe, that the impressive results in the Far East may not be down to the performance of schools.
He cites research which shows that in China 73.8 per cent of primary school students received "shadow education", ie, supplementary schools or private tutors. A similar picture emerges in Hong Kong, Singapore and South Korea.
Watanbe argues that shadow education is best developed in Japan where about 50,000 "juku" companies have set up, offering distance learning to pupils out of school.
Step off the plane, then. Go to Finland, another high performer, instead?
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