International report shows UK schools lag

BUSINESS leaders have hit out at UK school and education standards after a survey showed they lag behind international rivals, despite costing more than in most countries.

The Confederation of British Industry (CBI) said the OECD Programme for International Student Assessment 2009 survey showed that 15 countries in the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD) achieved better science results than the UK and 27 were outperforming it in mathematics.

Only seven OECD countries were spending more per student than the UK, according to the study of 65 countries.

It also showed that 12 countries scored significantly higher than England in reading, that 20 countries were significantly better in maths and that 10 nations did better in science.

While schools in England reported fewer disciplinary problems and a more positive learning climate than in other OECD countries, the most frequently mentioned staffing issue was a shortage of qualified maths teachers. The most frequently reported resource problem was a lack of computers.

The CBI said the government needed to make much more of its investment, including getting more students to study maths beyond the age of 16 and more taking three separate sciences at GCSE level.

The CBI said it also wants to see schools recruiting and keeping more specialist science and maths teachers, more co-operation between schools and business in teaching science and better careers advice highlighting the areas of greatest demand from employers.

CBI director of education & skills policy Susan Anderson said: “It is increasingly clear that the UK is a long way behind its key competitors in education.

“The CBI wants to see more students studying maths beyond the age of 16 and more taking three separate sciences at GCSE, so that young people do not miss out on opportunities later in life.”

The report showed girls scored significantly higher than boys in reading, which was the case in every participating country.