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UK 'lagging' despite higher than average spend

A major study into the educational achievements of teenagers across the world has found that UK students have "failed to improve" since 2009, and remain around average in maths and reading, and slightly above average in science.

The study found that the UK spends more per head on education than the average across OECD countries, at around £59,889 per student between the ages of six and 15.

The OECD average is £50,951.

UK education 'still lagging behind' leading countries

An international survey of more than half a million 15-year-olds from 65 countries shows that UK teens are still lagging behind countries such as China, Korea and Japan in educational standards.

UK teenagers are about average in maths and reading, and above average in science. Credit: REUTERS/Luke MacGregor

The UK's average score for maths was 494 and in reading it was 499, broadly the same as the OECD averages, putting the country on a par with nations such as the Czech Republic, France,and Norway.

In science, UK teenagers scored 514 points, above the OECD average and similar to results in Australia, Austria, Ireland, New Zealand and Slovenia.

But it also leaves the UK lagging far behind leading nations including Shanghai in China, Singapore, Hong Kong, Korea and Japan in each of the areas tested.

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UK education performance 'failing to improve'

The UK's performance in maths, reading and science has failed to improve in recent years, leaving UK teens lagging far behind peers in countries such as Sinapore, Korea and Japan, a major international study has found.

The UK's position in the OECD study remains largely unchanged from. Credit: Reuters

Despite the UK spending more than average on education, there has been "no change" in the country's abilities in the three basic subjects, according to the latest results from the Programme for International Student Assessment (PISA) study 2012.

The UK placed 26th place for maths, 23rd for reading and 21st for science out of the total 65 countries that took part in the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development's (OECD) study last year.

  1. Wales

Wales falls further in global PISA education rankings

Wales has fallen further behind in a worldwide assessment of pupils' maths, reading and science skills.

Welsh pupils are again behind their counterparts in England, Scotland and Northern Ireland in all three areas, and are below the global average in those areas.

Welsh pupils continue to struggle with PISA tests, which aim to assess real-life skills. Credit: PA

Results from the so-called PISA (Programme for International Student Assessment) tests, sat by 15-year-old pupils around the world last year, have been published today by the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development.

Wales is now ranked 43rd out of 68 countries for maths, 41st for reading, and 36th for science - all lower positions than when the tests were last held in 2009.

The Welsh Government has previously targeted the top 20 positions of the influential league tables when the next tests are sat in 2015.

How the international school tables work

International school tables are expected to suggest that UK students have fallen behind pupils in Asian countries in reading, science and maths.

This is how the Organisation for Economic Cooperation and Development's tables work:

  • The rankings are based on tests completed by around 500,000 pupils worldwide in 65 different countries.
  • Some 12,638 students took the two-hour tests in 477 secondary schools across the UK, according to The Sunday Times (£).
  • The study focuses on three key areas; reading, science and maths.
  • In 2009, the last time this test was carried out, the UK finished 25th for reading, 16th in science and 28th in maths.

UK students expected to lag behind in school tables

A major international report is expected to show that UK students are lagging far behind their peers in Asian countries in reading, science and maths.

The report focuses on reading, science and maths. Credit: Chris Radburn/PA Wire

Global school league tables assessing countries performances in the three areas will be published this morning by the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD).

School systems in South Korea, Japan and Singapore did well in a similar study three years ago, while the UK was an average performer.

Around half a million pupils around the world took the tests, including students from England, Scotland, Northern Ireland and Wales.

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'Financial crisis an excuse' for not tackling climate issues

Head of the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development Angel Gurria has told ITV News "we have to put a big fat price on carbon" to tackle climate change and "we have to start now."

On Chancellor George Osborne's comments that Britain should not be "in front" of the world in tackling climate change, Gurria said: "The UK has been a leader...the problem is the financial crisis is being used as an excuse."

Basic skills 'bound to decline' without 'significant action'

The OECD report on numeracy and literacy in 24 countries said basic skills among young people in England and Ireland were "bound to decline" unless "significant action" is taken.

Although young people in these countries are entering a much more demanding labour market, they are not much better equipped with literacy and numeracy skills than those who are retiring.

The implication for England and Northern Ireland is that the stock of skills available to them is bound to decline over the next decades unless significant action is taken to improve skills proficiency among young people.

– OECD report

OECD: Almost one in four can only manage simple sums

An OECD survey of 9,000 people in 24 countries, has showed that England and Northern Ireland have some of the highest proportions of adults scoring no higher than Level 1 in literacy and numeracy.

  • 24.1% or around 8.5 million people scored at or below Level 1 in numeracy (basic sums), compared with an OECD average of 19%.
  • 16.4% or around 5.8 million people scored the lowest level in literacy (simple texts), compared with an OECE average of 15.5%.
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