The Great Debate UK
–Vikas Pota is chief executive of the Varkey GEMS Foundation. The opinions expressed are his own.–
It was results day yesterday for education ministers around the world, and where they’ve come in the class will affect their prospects just as surely as a sixth-former opening their brown envelope. Nowhere around the world will the wait have been more nail-biting than in Michael Gove’s Department for Education.
The PISA results – a comparison of the performance of 15-year olds across 32 countries in maths, science and reading – make dispiriting reading for the UK. We fail to make the top twenty in any subject for the first time – languishing at 26th place in maths, 23rd in reading and having slipped to 21st in science, which was previously a bright spot.
Three years ago, greeting the last PISA results, Gove said that “these are facts from which we cannot hide”. Andreas Schleicher, the OECD official who oversees the PISA scores, though less dramatic, acknowledged, “The UK has not improved in the way that we have seen other systems improving”.
By Laurence Copeland. The opinions expressed are his own.
It will be a long road back to respectable standards in our schools, but for making a start, Michael Gove deserves our respect and gratitude. It takes a lot of bravery to confront Britain’s education establishment.
However, there is one critical issue which I never hear mentioned in any of the fractious debates on education. It hides behind a number of aliases: continuous assessment, assignments, projects, and no doubt many others. Whatever form it takes, the common factor is the incorporation into public qualifications of grades based on work completed outside exam conditions – at home, in the library, in the shopping mall, anywhere except under the eye of an objective invigilator.