Tuesday 6 December 2016

The PISA results 2016 shows very little progress and that there is a very long way to go in the UK and especially in Wales.

This is the fourth time Wales has done worse than the other UK nations.

Standards in performance and provision in Welsh Education should and could be much better

The following is from a post of last November

The in-phrase these days when forming a judgement about the poor performance of any organisation, public body or even an individual tends to be ‘not fit for purpose’. 
It is fair to state that in certain areas there are signs of improvement such as attendance, truancy and the decline in the proportion of young people not in education or training. But in the key area of standards there is considerable scope for improvement, indeed the previous two Ministers agreed with me with one pointing ‘complacency’ and the other ‘systemic weaknesses’.

Briefly the key points are in relation to the schools inspected by Estyn in recent times:

The proportion of primary schools with ‘good’ or ‘excellent’ standards has declined to 6 in 10. In other words 4 out of 10 are only ‘adequate’ (in other words OK!). The central problem was weakness in pupils’ numeracy skills and this has been a matter of concern for years. The standards in literacy have only improved ‘slightly’.

Although the standards in secondary schools are improving there remains a long way to go. Only 50% of the schools inspected achieved ‘excellent or good’ standards. So there are an awful lot of them in the ‘adequate’ box.  Clearly that is not good enough.

At secondary level it has been found that there is a general need to improve standards in science, mathematics and numeracy as well as the provision for more the able and talented pupils. 

Two matters of concern and they were present throughout the years I was an inspector – the standards in Welsh second language and schools’ assessment of pupils’ work is not robust or accurate enough. The latter weakness is so crucial not only does it mislead pupils and parents, also call into question the school’s self-evaluation processes and judgements but more importantly school leaders are unable to have a proper and accurate grasp of how the school is performing.

Without going further one can begin to understand why Wales is so low down the international education comparison league table called PISA. Out of 65 countries we are 43rd, Northern Ireland 33rd, England and Scotland more or less the same at 25th.  In fact none of the UK countries are anywhere near the standard set by so many countries across the world. Of course to explain away these facts the Welsh Government and others in the education profession try to say that such comparisons are meaningless – actually they are most certainly not.

When inspecting there was a good 75% of schools always complaining about the lack of professional support and guidance they were getting from their local education authorities. It was a common feature.  But it is not surprising because in recent years 9 local authorities have been, at various times, placed into the in need of ‘special measures’ category and requiring significant external support to ensure improvement. 

The PISA results 2016 shows very little progress and that there is a very long way to go in the UK and especially in Wales.

The UK is still lagging behind leading countries at education and has made little progress in international rankings since results three years ago.

The influential Pisa rankings, run by the OECD, are based on tests taken by 540,000 15-year-olds in 72 countries.
The UK is behind top performers such as Singapore and Finland, but also trails Vietnam, Poland and Estonia.
The OECD's describes the UK's results as "flat in a changing world".

  In maths, the UK is ranked 27th, slipping down a place from three years ago, the lowest since it began participating in the Pisa tests in 2000
  In reading, the UK is ranked 22nd, up from 23rd, having fallen out of the top 20 in 2006
  The UK's most successful subject is science, up from 21st to 15th place - the highest placing since 2006, although the test score has declined

Scores of Welsh students in science, reading and maths were below the average of 72 countries and economies taking part in a major study of educational performance.
Welsh students also did worse than their counterparts in England, Scotland and Northern Ireland.
This is the fourth time Wales has done worse than the other UK nations.
The latest results show:
§  In maths, Wales scored 478, below England and Northern Ireland which both scored 493 and Scotland which scored 491
§  In reading, Wales once again came last in the UK with 478, England scored 500, Northern Ireland 497 and Scotland 493.
§  In science, Wales scored 485, England scored 512, Northern Ireland 500 and Scotland 497.