Just a week after the release of the White Paper on education, new data has been released showing that educational standards in the UK are stagnating compared to the other developed nations. The PISA survey, carried out by the OECD, examines the reading, maths and science ability of a sample of 15 year olds from 65 developed countries. The findings of the tests carried out last year indicate that students in England have dropped from 17th to 25th in reading; 24th to 28th in maths; and 14th to 16th in science compared the previous survey conducted in 2006.
The findings show that, despite the huge rise in spending on education over the past decade, the impact has been limited. In fact, in countries like Germany and Hungary that had similar rankings as England in the survey, the spending per student was just £40,000 and £28,000 respectively while England spent £54,000. It also emerged that only seven other OECD countries spend more per student than the UK. It is not so much the high spending that is the concern here; it is its ineffectiveness. The government have thrown money at education and these results show that it is not the solution.
What is required is the overhaul of the education system. While the white paper released last week is a start, if the government want to see true improvement in educational standards then Gove has to allow Free Schools to be profit-making institutions. Only by doing this can the UK hope to move beyond average and retake its place as one of the best providers of quality education in the world. For-profit Free Schools will create diversity in the system and create an environment where excellence and innovation are at the heart of teaching and education. By changing the way our schools are run the benefits will pass on to the pupil and the education they receive will improve, and as a result the UK’s ranking.