UK ranked second in Europe and sixth in global education league table
The UK’s education system has been rated top second in Europe and sixth best globally in a recent league table produced by Pearson.
South Korea stood first, with three other Asian countries and Finland taking the top five places. The rankings are based upon international test scores including the OECD’s Pisa tests as well as Trends in International Mathematics and Science Study (Timss) and Progress in International Reading Literacy Study (Pirls), both US-based studies. The scores also include higher-education graduation rates, which boosted the UK to a higher position compared to Pisa tests, which saw UK failing to make the top 20. The ranking puts the UK ahead of countries such as Germany, France and the US. The table emphasises the success of Asia-Pacific countries, which hold the top four positions.
A Learning Curve report accompanying the grades emphasised the significance of cultural norms to Asian success. The report highlighted that “the success of top-performing Asian countries reflects a culture, in which teachers, students and parents all take responsibility for education.”
Finland remains number one in Europe but has fallen from first to fifth place in the global rankings, following a downward trend for Scandinavian countries which had consistently performed well. Greece was ranked the lowest in Europe, finding itself amongst developing economies such as Brazil, Mexico and Indonesia at the bottom of the global rankings. John Fallon, chief executive of Pearson, said: “The report highlighted the strong connection between improving education and economic growth.” Underlining the financial difficulties the world is facing, he told the BBC that “the education systems around the world can learn from each other.”
Mr Fallon suggested “large-scale digital sharing as the way forward to improve global standards and an answer to do more or better with the same or less resources.”
Pearson has produced an open-access information hub, including a databank of education information for 50 countries.
Mr Fallon emphasised that it would be a “huge mistake” to think the role of teachers is reduced by a greater use of technology. Responding to the report, Russell Hobby, general secretary of the National Association of Head Teachers, said: “Given the criticism of schools by many of our politicians you could be forgiven for thinking that our education system compares unfavourably with others. Yet when alternative research becomes available, it shows a different picture.” The UK’s excellent performance was also welcomed by Mary Bousted, leader of the ATL teachers’ union, who said: “We are confident that Michael Gove will respond positively to the good news and acknowledge the hard work of teachers and lecturers in this achievement.”