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The UK's education system is ranked sixth best in the developed world

(47 Posts)
dinkybinky Tue 27-Nov-12 06:20:39

The UK's education system is ranked sixth best in the developed world, according to a global league table published by education firm Pearson.

The first and second places are taken by Finland and South Korea.

The rankings combine international test results and data such as graduation rates between 2006 and 2010.

Sir Michael Barber, Pearson's chief education adviser, says successful countries give teachers a high status and have a "culture" of education.

International comparisons in education have become increasingly significant - and this latest league table is based upon a series of global test results combined with measures of education systems, such as how many people go on to university.

This composite picture puts the UK in a stronger position than the influential Pisa tests from the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD) - which is also one of the tests included in this ranking.

APMF Tue 27-Nov-12 07:04:56

The phrase 'cherry picking' springs to mind. International reports that puts the UK in a bad light are 'flawed' or are comparing apples to pears. On the other hand international reports that puts the UK in 6th place must be true smile

nooka Tue 27-Nov-12 07:16:38

The Pearson site about the study is quite interesting: I'll be interested to see how this is reported n Canada (where I live now) as they are lower in these rankings than the PISA ones.

APMF Tue 27-Nov-12 07:32:42

In the past when the UK was ranked low the argument here in the UK was that these type of reports favour the rote learning exam taking automations that are churned out by Asians schools. But as soon as these reports places the UK below the same Asian countries BUT above USA, Canada and Co, it's like, hey we Number 6. Hooray!

NulliusInBlurba Tue 27-Nov-12 07:37:54

I'm not sure I trust the Pearson report - which is essentially nothing more than something commercially produced by a publisher - more than the OECD PISA report, which has a solid academic basis.

Finland and South Korea are always top of PISA, so no surprises there. Interesting because they have very different techniques for success.

When the first PISA results came out (1999?) Germany collectively freaked out at being placed 20th, below countries like the Czech Republic. It's led to widespread educational reform in some rather silly ways. On the other hand, it's also led to some teachers being determined to massage the results by prepping the kids chosen to take part. And it still hasn't led to that much of an improvement! Germany came 15th on the Pearson survey, which is still pretty piss-poor for a supposedly wealthy industrial nation.

However, the point about the need for a culture that supports learning is actually pretty valid. One of the reasons Germany performs so poorly is that education is widely perceived by teachers and pupils as a play-it-dirty competition to eliminate weaklings and maintain the status quo rather than a genuine opportunity to teach all people as much as they are able to learn.

redlac Tue 27-Nov-12 07:43:06

Scotland has a different eduction system to the rest of the UK so how can it be included as UK?

mummytime Tue 27-Nov-12 07:45:14

Well it agree with a lot of tables that put Finland and South Korea at the top. Of course people from the UK will argue with it because: a) it lumps all the UK education systems together; b) people from the UK tend to be negative about their own systems unless "johnnie foreigner" criticises them, eg. the NHS.

Despite what some people on MN seem to think UK education isn't that bad. It could improve, and it definitely needs to change, but so does education everywhere. (Mr Gove maybe taking English education back to his idea of a golden time, but even if it was great then, it could well be exactly what we do not need in the future.)

AThingInYourLife Tue 27-Nov-12 07:46:43

Education is a devolved matter, so there is no such thing as a UK education system.

wordfactory Tue 27-Nov-12 07:54:16

I think there are some excellent aspects to education in the UK. The main problem is that provision is so bloody patchy.

exoticfruits Tue 27-Nov-12 08:04:58

I agree with wordfactory and there lies the problem.

bruffin Tue 27-Nov-12 08:08:18

I thought one of the problems with the PISA test was that not all countries included their SEN students. Secondly Finnish is a very simple phonic language compared to English and is one of the easiest languages for a native to learn to read.

FWIW I did work for one of the largest Finnish employers for 6 years and was not that impressed with the outcome of their education system.

cory Tue 27-Nov-12 08:23:24

also, Finland has taken very few refugees compared to their Scandinavian neighbours: teaching a native speaker who has been brought up in the culture under stable conditions is going to be rather different from teaching a child who doesn't understand a word of the language and who is traumatised by war and torture and years in a refugee camp

(still think Sweden deserved to drop off the list though- the free school system has been a disaster)

APMF Tue 27-Nov-12 09:43:57

IMO people are placing too much importance on education infrastructure. Obviously one needs good teachers, books and decent classroom conditions but once you have that, doesn't it simply comes down to aspirations and cultural values?

Here in the UK we have working class whites, blacks, Asians and Orientals. In the case of the latter groups, many children are hampered by the fact that they or their parents speak no English. In many cases the parents themselves have only had a rudimentary education back in their country of origin. They all go through the same schools and yet the end results are different.

Governments can tweak the system as much as they want but unless people recognise and accept that their values and aspirations play a major part in their children's education then we will be forever be ranked below these countries.

mummytime Tue 27-Nov-12 10:00:40

APMF I don't get your point, because Asian and Oriental students often outperform "white" students. Anecdotally I would also say (from a tiny unscientific sample, that is girls my DD knows), that Polish children do very well, but Portuguese do less well academically.

However if we complain about there being no UK education system, I think similar criticism can be made in Canada, as I have heard of vast differences between provinces.

APMF Tue 27-Nov-12 10:53:22

By 'white' I meant the indigenous population smile My point is that many immigrants, of whatever colour, do very well despite being poor and not speaking the language. Yet the experts insist on telling us that the odds are stacked against you if you don't come from a middle class background.

Both here and in the Real World I hear people refer to 'pushy' parents in a negative way. Children should be children. Homework? Gets in the way scouts. Oxbridge? Jeeze you are pushy etc etc. In countries like HK there is no equivalent to the word 'pushy' because it is the norm to be pushy.

To me, it is these attitudes that is the source of the problem and all the reforms from the past and in the future are just minor tweaks that won't change much.

Elibean Tue 27-Nov-12 12:17:42

Interesting the report mentioned teachers' status as making a difference - I would love to see the UK value teachers and education more highly (across the board).

Also, standing back a little, interesting to see how we mind being 6th out of so many...not saying we shouldn't strive to improve, obviously, but still interesting!

mummytime Tue 27-Nov-12 12:52:47

APMF - the odd thing is: I and most of my friends, had incredibly laid back parents. No homework in primary, no supervision of homework in secondary. I was even travelling across London during my A'levels to take part in drama groups. I went to a naff school and worked less hard than my 'lazy" ds (at least outside school hours).
However despite this we all went to University when fewer people did, and we obtained good degrees, from Russell group or Oxbridge, and have gone on to achieve pretty well as adults.

Xenia Tue 27-Nov-12 12:54:36

Well we must be hugely valuing teachers here if we are right up there at number 6 and teacher status is important.

I suppose if it is partly based on how many to go university all you have to do is let people go with CCC to study trees or needlework and you shoot up the tables.

APMF Tue 27-Nov-12 12:58:29

The reason why I am knocking 6th place is that the other way of looking at it is that we aren't as bad as a lot of countries (glass half empty smile )

We got our kids in Indies because there are no GS schools in my area and I felt that the nearby state comprehensives weren't particularly academic

So, we could be 6th or 60th but either way, I am still paying £30k pa for fees when I would rather save that money and retire early sad

mummytime Tue 27-Nov-12 13:13:42

Xenia, if it was that easy then why isn't the US higher? Or maybe someone has skewed the table to discredit some of the Higher education places that US students do go to.

Xenia Tue 27-Nov-12 13:31:52

Good point. Does 6th include the 7% of children in private schools or not who make up 50% of the best A levels/university places people?

I think 5 private school children over 13 years at about £10k a year is £650k and grossed up as out of income taxed at at least 40% is over £1m I have spent/saved the tax payer and I am generating some pretty good little tax payers already.

APMF Tue 27-Nov-12 13:55:39

.... and all it takes is an off day in 10 years time for DC to graduate with a Third. It's a sobering thought. In that scenario the last laugh WILL be on us. sad

Copthallresident Tue 27-Nov-12 14:05:22

APMF HK parents send their children to the UK and US because the rote learning model answer culture of education in the local system does not prepare them for the commercial world (and employers have to compensate for the shortcomings of the education system ). Teachers in International Schools there are very used to teenagers who fall asleep at their desks because they are so tired from late night tutoring, who cannot even do their own hair because all childcare is delegated to helpers and drivers who are at the mercy of bullying children and to children having real issues with confidence as a result of an upbringing in which parental attention and love is severely rationed. A friend who teaches IB art which requires them to open up about their feelings, struggles to get them to unwind but when she does what emerges is frequently heart-breaking. The HK kids I know who have done best have come from families that rejected that norm of pushiness and detachment and gave their children warm and secure home lives and got them into International Schools like ESF / Kellett who also encourage and support rather than hothouse.

SminkoPinko Tue 27-Nov-12 14:12:02

What a great result! Just shows that despite all our mumsnet rows the UK generally does well by lots of its children. Of course, this is based on education under Labour. It will be interesting to see if we catapult down the tables with the Tory reforms. Or go upwards from a strong base. I think it's interesting that education systems appear to have little effect per se on national results with the top places being taken by countries with myriad approaches. I wonder if all the academy and free school stuff will have much effect on the quality of education in England, when all is said and done. I have always thought good education is all about inspiring and wonderful teachers with high expectations of their pupils, and not primarily about systems. Sounds like there are many more such teachers in the UK getting more Of our kids through exams and on to college, uni and beyond than we migit have thought.

Copthallresident Tue 27-Nov-12 14:15:32

Regardless of what methodology delivers us 6th or 20th place the issue with British education is that at it's best it is world beating but it fails too may pupils who are disadvantaged.

Finland has a flat social structure, there is no loss of status in being a plumber and at 16 pupils choose whether they want to go the academic route or opt for vocational training to be a craftsman, with no negative values of having failed to go the former route if they choose the latter. The system caters for all levels and types of ability. Teachers are not just given a high status but are made up of the top 10% of graduates and are completely empowered in the classroom, they teach for only 4 hours per day to allow sufficient time for preparation, and can deliver education tailored to individual needs. There is no state intervention or testing until 17. When DDs friend returned to Finland from a British system school well ahead of her peers her teacher simply kept teaching her at the same pace, she is now at the Stockholm School of Economics.

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