The UK General Election - 4th July 2024



Only 30% of people in the UK place any importance on results in international tests like PISA which rank our students against their counterparts in the rest of the world, a new poll reveals.

The survey by independent polling company YouGov, commissioned by education consultancy PLMR, found that only 5%  of adults said they placed “a great deal of importance” on them.

The figures are released after the latest results in the triennial PISA (Programme for International Student Assessment) tests for 15-year-olds in reading, maths and science were published by the OECD. They show the UK’s performance was about the same in each subject as it had been in 2012, with Singapore leading the field.

Last week the latest results in the TIMSS (Trends in International Maths and Science Study) tests in maths and science for 10- and 14-year-olds were published. Singapore and Hong Kong led the tables, with England ranked between 8th and 15th in the four tests taken.

The Coalition Government referred to England’s international rankings to underline the need for a number of its education reforms from 2010 onwards to be based on the policies of high-performing jurisdictions. Former Secretary of State for Education Michael Gove said in 2010 it would be at least a decade until England’s reforms could be judged a success or not.

PLMR Associate Director Ollie Lane said:

“While Governments around the world place great importance in the results of these tests, and in many cases look to mimic the policies of the top performers, it seems the public here is less interested in how we do in the world rankings.

“Most parents are much more interested in what is happening on a day-to-day basis in their own child’s school. If their child is doing well, if teaching in the school is good, and if results are on the up, then they are unlikely to mind how the UK as a whole is performing against other countries.

“The Government will understandably look at the results with more interest – they will want to continue to emulate what is going on in high-performing area, as they seek to ensure that our students are as globally competitive as possible.”

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