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England among highest performing western countries in education

Students in England have risen up the international rankings in maths, making the UK one of the top performing countries in the Western world.

A worldwide education study published today (5 December 2023) shows that England has significantly outperformed the international average and risen from 17th in maths in 2018 to 11 and from 27th in 2009.

The Program for International Student Assessment (PISA) is an international assessment of the math, reading, and science abilities of 15-year-old students. Conducted by the OECD, this exam is widely accepted as an international standard for the academic achievement of high school students.

These strong results demonstrate that the government has made real progress in raising standards. We are determined to build on this success and make the long-term decisions needed to improve performance for generations to come.

This is why in October the Prime Minister set out a bold new plan to introduce a new Baccalaureate qualification – the advanced British standards (ABS) – which we will see every student in the UK study some form of maths and English up to the age of 18, giving them the skills they need to succeed. As part of this plan, the government has announced a £60m investment over two years to further improve mathematics education and help lay the foundations for the introduction of ABS.

Today’s results also show that England has placed 13th in both reading and science, having finished 14th and 13th in 2018 and 25th and 16th in 2009 respectively.

They build on England’s significantly improved position in the reading abilities of nine to 10-year-olds in a separate international study earlier this year, PIRLS, in which English children were ranked second. fourth out of the 43 countries compared – making them the best in the West.

Education standards have risen sharply since 2010, with 89% of schools now rated by Ofsted as good or outstanding, up from just 68% 13 years ago.

Education Minister Gillian Keegan said:

“These results are testament to our outstanding teachers, the hard work of our students and the government’s tireless efforts to raise school standards over the past 13 years.

“With our children being named ‘Best in the West’ for reading earlier this year, England is now firmly established as one of the countries with top education. top in the Western world.

“Our teachers, principals and support staff should be incredibly proud of the role they play, day in and day out, changing educational standards in this country and delivering for our children. We have the foundation to build a successful career and compete for the best jobs in the world.”

Alongside its achievements, the report also highlights other positive findings, including that the UK education system is fairer than most – meaning all children have access to an education excellence and the opportunity to succeed, regardless of background.

In addition, the report found that students in England generally have more positive attitudes about the quality of maths lessons and teacher support than the OECD average.

The Government has achieved significant success in maths over the years, with England achieving its highest ever score for primary maths in TIMSS 2019. More than £100 million has been investment in the Maths Hub programme, with the leading offer Teaching to Mastery will reach 65 % of secondary schools by 2025. To help further improve maths attainment, the Government has also announced established a new National Professional Qualification in April to help bring best practice into their schools.

The report highlights the challenge of the pandemic. In England, students have been helped to catch up with almost £5bn of education recovery measures, including more than £1bn for the revolutionary National Tutoring Scheme alone. Develop ways to provide targeted support to children and young people. need it the most.

The report also found that the majority of pupils in England reported feeling safe in their schools.

Note to editors:

  • The Department is extremely grateful to all the schools, students, teachers and leaders who participated in PISA 2022.
  • Attracting talented teachers is critical to ensuring the best education for our children.
  • Teacher recruitment will surge this academic year with £196m to attract more teachers across core subjects. This will fund scholarships, grants and salary subsidies to help thousands of candidates through the initial teacher training (ITT) program. bursaries for those training to teach maths, physics, chemistry and computing will now be tax-free of up to £30,000, aiming to attract more talented teachers to attract more talented teachers in these core subjects to support the delivery of an advanced educational program. British Standards (ABS) were announced by the Prime Minister in October.
  • Raising literacy standards is a long-term government priority and our focus over the past decade has been on improving reading teaching through a tried and tested phonics approach.
  • In 2021, we introduced pronunciation screening. At that time, only 58% met the expected standard. By 2023, 79% of 5- and 6-year-olds will meet expected standards.
  • We have invested £60m in an English hub program designed to develop expertise in teaching reading in schools.
  • Our network of 40 math centers is helping schools across the country improve math instruction based on mastery teaching methods used by some of the highest-performing regions in the world.
  • In November, the Prime Minister proposed a new vision of making math compulsory until grade 18 according to advanced British standards. This government has made significant improvements in raising mathematics standards.
  • More than £100 million has been invested in the maths hub programme, a flagship curriculum aimed at delivering mastery that will reach 65% of secondary schools by 2025
  • Last year we made multiplication table testing mandatory in primary schools to help ensure children aged 8 to 9 know the multiplication tables better.
  • In 2019 primary school students scored the highest ever on the TIMSS international exam
  • Ofsted recently found a ‘resounding, positive change in [primary] mathematics education.”
  • The maths hub’s flagship curriculum to deliver mastery of knowledge has been expanded to 75% of primary schools by 2025, in line with the Government’s wider strategy for maths. The Arithmetic Mastery Program, which aims to help primary school children master the basics of arithmetic, is also expanding to 8,000 primary schools by 2024.
  • In its international report, the OECD will highlight countries that do not meet PISA sampling standards. This includes England. As a precaution, this should be taken into account when interpreting the results for these countries, including England, as this could have a positive impact on both their scores and rankings. The Department provides further detail on this issue in our national report (attached), in particular the analysis of non-response bias, which examines the impact of response rates on the representativeness of the data. our materials.
  • In the UK, in response to the pandemic, students have been helped to catch up with almost £5 billion in education recovery measures, including more than £1 billion for the national tutoring program alone. This program has revolutionized the way targeted support is provided to students. Children and young people are the ones who need it most.
  • OECD countries whose performance is above the OECD average and in which the influence of socioeconomic status on academic achievement is less strong than the OECD average are “highly equitable”.
  • It should be noted that changes in rankings over time are particularly sensitive to factors such as the number of participating countries and changes in other countries’ scores, as well as the caution required by countries. does not meet PISA sampling standards. The report also highlights the impact of the pandemic, meaning that although Britain’s ranking has increased compared to other countries, some individuals’ scores are lower than in previous PISA research. This reflects a similar pattern with other countries. You can find more details about England’s performance in the 2022 PISA country report for England.

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