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to think if you are going to criticise teenagers' historical knowledge, you should at least do some proper research first - Gove, that means you

(64 Posts)
kim147 Mon 13-May-13 21:52:39

Message withdrawn at poster's request.

Toadinthehole Thu 30-May-13 13:14:28

I agree with your last point. Alas, I don't see any light at the end of the tunnel. sad

BoneyBackJefferson Sun 19-May-13 12:50:10


the organisation themselves have poined out that the information is not supposed to form a league table.

Given that they test one subject every 9 years and there is no datum for them to be based on, they are a flawed measure.

Yes the UK education system is in trouble, but putting forward bad statistical data and changing the system every couple of months without finding out if the changes are good is not helping.

Toadinthehole Sun 19-May-13 12:00:21


Given that they are a comparison in statistical form, it's not surprising they are nor misleading to do so.

I've read nothing on this thread that dispels the belief of my DW or various teaching colleagues here that the UK education system is in trouble.

LRDtheFeministDragon Sun 19-May-13 10:28:54

Amen to that.

He doesn't understand the first thing about history as a subject.

ComposHat Sun 19-May-13 10:25:43

I am a pacifist and forgive me for saying this, but Gove has a face you'd never tire of slapping.

Nehru Sun 19-May-13 09:52:51

i was once teaching in a school that agreed to do a Sunday Times survey on HIstory.

it was a TOTAL set up - the "hilariously' wrong answers were put on the multiple choice questionnaire and half the stuff wasnt even on the curriculum

Nehru Sun 19-May-13 09:51:41


its as if the WHOLE uk economy is based on historical knowledge

BoneyBackJefferson Sun 19-May-13 09:51:02

It is interesting that people quote the PISA league tables when PISA themselves have said that the results where never meant to be put into league table form.

Toadinthehole Sun 19-May-13 03:26:52

Bumping, in the hope of a reply from Abuelita.

YoniMatopoeia Fri 17-May-13 11:31:41

I would also like to applaud you Abuelita

EduCated Thu 16-May-13 10:11:35

Abuelita Can I just say thank you? It's people like you who give the faintest glimpse of hope that we might not be completely fucked.

Toadinthehole Thu 16-May-13 07:32:03


I found your reply and links very interesting (the reason for this will become apparent at the end of my reply). The first thing to note is that I understand Gove claims that the UK education system has got worse. I'm not defending this claim, which I understand is based on the PISA 2000 figures, which ranked the UK 7th in reading, 4th for science and 8th for maths, significantly higher than subsequent rankings (25th, 16th and 28th in 2009, for example). My point is that the UK education system hasn't been world-class for a while. The fact that the PISA 2000 scores were flawed actually strengthens this point rather than the opposite, as it excludes the most obvious contradictory evidence. And while you point out that UK scores are at or above the average, I don't think this is anything to write home about, given that the table includes Kazakhstan, Panama and Brazil. I don't have anything against those countries, but I do assume that the UK, as a knowledge-based post-industrial economy and thus requires at least an above-average education system.

About Pearson: I understand that it measures what "goes in". So, a well-resourced education system could in theory produce indifferent results but still rank highly, which to me seems open to criticism.

While I find the PIRLS and TIMMS results interesting, I think all it does is perhaps highlight where the particular deficiency in UK education lies - in secondary schools. Given the UK's relatively poor record on youth wellbeing (not that NZ's is anything to write home about, for that matter) perhaps this is not just the fault of the education system. This seems the most obvious way or reconciling the the high PERLS/TIMMS results with the comparatively low PISA results which strike me as a better measure, because they are at, or close to, the end of formal schooling. I might add in fairness to Gove that the children assessed in PERLS/TIMMS will have had over half their schooling during the time he has been Education Secretary.

I understand that private schools are included in these measures, and furthermore that the UK independent schooling sector is one of the world's best. It hasn't escaped my notice that in the UK even pop stars and sports people these days seem to have gone to independent schools.

While of course surveys are no guide to whether a particular child will do well at a particular school, it is reasonable to consider them in some respects a helpful guide, and in this case the horror stories I've heard (particularly at secondary level) are borne out by the surveys and also my observation that the locals here tend, in my experience, to be more dextrous with language and maths than British people, including myself - Russell Group educated though I am.

I am, by the way, very happy to be proved wrong, apart from the slight loss of face it would cause. I endure regular bouts of homesickness and would love to return to the UK. DW is, however, very worried about the schools (she's not British, but she taught in them). I invite you to apply your most remorseless logic to tear apart what I've written, and then I can present what you say to DW. smile

burntoutteacher Wed 15-May-13 23:00:43

Micheal Gove always reminds me of a tape worm

kim147 Wed 15-May-13 21:15:14

Message withdrawn at poster's request.

nobodysbaby Wed 15-May-13 20:38:42

Abuelita, thank you so much for this. I just wish the opposition or even the press would do what you do!

ravenAK Wed 15-May-13 18:59:16

Abuelita, you are now officially my heroine.

Thank you for your excellent work on this.

JamieandtheMagicTorch Wed 15-May-13 18:50:13

I wish we had a genuinely intelligent satirical news programme in this country, like the US Daily Show. They would mercilessly rip apart this goon's "statistics"

limitedperiodonly Wed 15-May-13 12:59:36

Thanks cory. It's what I suspect will happen in Britain but any criticism is portrayed as whingeing.

Ilikethebreeze Wed 15-May-13 11:39:42

Agree with Boulevard. Cabinet reshuffle. Someone is made in charge of prison for example, and is suddenly expected to know all about them, and comment knowledgely on them 4 days later.
I remember a few years ago, there was a politician, who had about 6 different cabinet posts in 2 years. How on earth was he supposed to keep up with all that lot.
I appreciate some of them are very very clever, but it is indeed a failure of the system.

Abuelita Wed 15-May-13 11:33:17

If you enjoy cartoons, then this one about a new Mr Man character might appeal:

I posted about Mr Gove's latest speech in which he misrepresented a revision task which asked pupils who'd been studying the Weimar Republic for several lesson to summarise the main events in a simplified Mr Men format which could be read to younger pupils. Gove said it was an example of infantalised teaching.

But it wasn't teaching, it was consolidation. The author of the lesson plan, Russel Tarr, defended his plan by quoting Einstein,

"If you can't explain it simply, you don't understand it well enough."

Hullygully Wed 15-May-13 11:25:42

You couldn't make it up

Oh wait...

Abuelita Wed 15-May-13 11:23:45

cory - the Academies Commission (2013) looked at the available evidence about Sweden. Its findings are summarised in the faq "What does a January 2013 review of evidence say about market intervention in education in Sweden and Chile?" in the link below. Look under "International Comparisons".

soverylucky Wed 15-May-13 11:20:49

Message withdrawn at poster's request.

soverylucky Wed 15-May-13 11:19:26

Message withdrawn at poster's request.

Abuelita Wed 15-May-13 11:18:24

Toadinthehole - the "fall" of the UK in PISA rankings between 2006 and 2009 was due to there being more countries taking part in PISA. The actual scores in Reading, Maths and Science were slightly lower but this was statistically insignificant. The UK was at the OECD average in Reading and Maths, and ABOVE average for Science.

It's not possible to judge UK's PISA record before 2006 because the 2003 and 2000 figures were flawed. The OECD warned that the 2000 figures should not be used for comparison but it didn't stop the Government and others from doing so. The UK Statistics Watchdog ruled in Autumn 2012 that the Government had been misusing the data.

I wrote about it here:

International rankings present a mixed picture. The Pearson report (2012) number-crunched all the available figures and concluded that the UK was 6th in the world. It has to be said, however, that Pearson's methodology has been criticised.

In PIRLS 2011, the score of English pupils rose and was significantly above 31 other countries including New Zealand, Sweden and Australia.

In the Trends in Maths and Science Survey (TIMSS) 2011, English 10 year-olds significantly outperformed forty-two participants which included Germany, Sweden, Australia in Maths although the performance of English 14 year-olds fell putting them among average instead of above average performers.

In TIMSS Science performance of English pupils (10 and 14 year-olds) in Science tests remained high although their position at the top has fallen since 2007 when they were top of the European league at ages 10 and 14.

On the other hand, UNICEF (2013) wrote that the UK was 24th out of 29 developed countries for “educational welfare”. This low ranking was caused by the large percentage of 15-19 year-olds who were not in education, employment or training.

League tables come with a warning: jumping to conclusions about a country’s education system based solely on league table rankings could be misleading.

For more details see faq "Is the UK tumbling down the international league tables?" here:

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