Recent results from global rankings by the Programme for International Student Assessment (PISA) show that the UK has risen up the global league table in both maths and reading. This comes despite a fall in performance as countries continue to grapple with the after-effects of the Covid-19 pandemic.
The test results, released every four years, assess 15-year-old students in the 81 participating countries in reading, maths, and science. According to the results, the UK has risen to 13th place in reading, up from joint 14th place in 2018, and from 17th to 12th in maths. Meanwhile, for science the UK’s position has held constant in joint 14th.
However, data from the PISA rankings show an overall decline in UK results since the pandemic in absolute terms, with maths results falling by 13 points and reading results dropping by 10 points. This is largely in line with average global declines in academic performance, resulting from the pandemic, which impacted in-person learning and educational development.
High-performing countries, like Singapore, Japan, actually continue to improve results during the pandemic and that’s certainly not what you can say for the UK
Andreas Schleicher, OECD Education and Skills Director
Andreas Schleicher, the OECD’s Education and Skills Director, commented on the results, saying: “High-performing countries, like Singapore, Japan, actually continue to improve results during the pandemic and that’s certainly not what you can say for the UK.”
Despite this criticism, he did acknowledge: “The decline in outcomes has been slower than on average across OECD countries. In that sense, the UK has been relatively more successful.”
These results are testament to our incredible teachers, the hard work of students and to the government’s unrelenting drive to raise school standards over the past 13 years
Gillian Keegan, Education Secretary
Having previously said that the PISA results would act as an indication of the success of Michael Gove’s education reforms, the UK Government appeared pleased with the results. Education Secretary Gillian Keegan responded positively to the results, noting: “These results are testament to our incredible teachers, the hard work of students and to the government’s unrelenting drive to raise school standards over the past 13 years.”
However, Shadow Education Secretary Bridget Phillipson critiqued the government’s education policy, suggesting: “The Tories aren’t ashamed: they are revelling in their failure… our children deserve more: a government that believes in education.”