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World economy 'growing at slowest pace since crash'

The world economy will grow at its slowest pace since the financial crisis for a second year in a row in 2016, the Organisation for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD) has forecast.

Ensnared in a "low-growth trap", the OECD said the global economy will grow at just three per cent this year, and called on governments to boost spending.

However growth will pick up modestly to 3.3 per cent next year, the OECD estimated.

OECD Chief Economist Catherine Mann said: "We are breaking promises to young people and old people.

"Therefore policymakers have to act to break us out of the low growth trap."

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School reforms 'inspired by top-ranking countries'

Education Secretary Michael Gove said the coalition government's reforms are driven by what happens in countries who performed better than the UK in English, maths and science in the international school league tables published today.

Read: UK education performance 'failing to improve'

Mr Gove said his radical reforms were inspired by what happens in Singapore, South Korea and Japan, which topped the performance charts. He said the top performing countries, certain common features occur, which he has placed at the heart of the Coalition strategy. They are:

  • Improving social justice
  • Providing a more rigorous curriculum
  • Giving schools greater autonomy
  • Giving head teachers greater powers to hire and fire

Gove: Education results show urgent need for reform

Education Secretary Michael Gove said the UK's poor performance on the international school tables underlines the urgent need for the reforms the government is making.

Education Secretary Michael Gove Credit: ITV News

Addressing MPs in the House of Commons, he said:

These poor results show the last government failed to secure the improvements in school standards our young people desperately need. Labour poured billions of pounds into schools and ratcheted up exam grades - yet our education system stagnated and we fell behind other nations."

Labour's shadow education secretary Tristram Hunt said the poor performance showed the failings of the government's schools policy.

"The PISA report is a big wake-up call. Eastern dominance centres on the importance that these high performing education systems place on the quality and status of the teaching profession as the central lever for driving up standards.

"This report exposes the failings of this Government's schools policy: a policy that has sent unqualified teachers into the classroom and prevented effective collaboration between schools."

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Boys outperforming girls in maths

Girls in the UK perform worse than boys in maths and are less likely to enjoy the subject, a major international study into education has revealed.

Boys perform better in maths, and slightly better in science, but not as well as girls in reading. Credit: PA Wire

It found that UK boys outperformed girls by 12 points on average in the latest Programme for International Student Assessment (PISA) tests.

The gender gap across OECD countries on average is 11 points, with boys doing better in most countries.

Boys also did better than girls in science with a gender gap of 13 points, larger than the OECD average one one point. But girls performed better in reading, scoring 25 points more on average, significantly less than the OECD's average gender gap of 38 points.

However, Andreas Schleicher, special adviser to the OECD's secretary-general, said the gender gap in the UK is considerably better than many other countries.

"In the UK that gender gap is not actually that pronounced. The UK is doing better than many countries in giving students, boys and girls equal opportunities, on balance."

Scotland ahead of the rest of UK in maths and reading

Schools in Scotland came out top in maths and reading in the UK, whilst schools in England led the way in science.

Overall:

  • Scotland scored 498 points
  • England scored 495 points
  • Northern Ireland scored 498 points
  • Wales scored 480 points

Reading:

  • Scotland scored 506 points
  • England scored 500 points
  • Northern Ireland scored 498 points
  • Wales scored 480 points

Science:

  • England scored 516 points
  • Scotland scored 513 points
  • Northern Ireland scored 507 points
  • Wales scored 491points

UK schools out of top 20 in all subjects

The UK failed to make the top 20 in any of the three subjects in international tests taken by 15-year-olds.

In 2009, the UK placed 16th in science, but this year only made it to number 21. However, the pupils' performance in maths and reading has improved.

  • In 2009, the UK placed 25th for reading, today this rose to 23rd
  • In 2009, the UK placed 16th in science, today this fell to 21st
  • In 2009, the UK placed 28th in maths, today this rose to 26th
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