Scottish education system ‘no longer world leading’
iNews, by Chris Green
Scotland’s schools have recorded their worst ever performance in a major international survey of pupils, with standards slipping in the key areas of maths, reading and science. The results mean it is now now “no longer credible” to describe Scotland’s education system as one of the best in the world, experts said.
“These shocking statistics are a damning indictment of a decade of failure under the SNP” Liz Smith MSP Scotland has tumbled down the international rankings since the last survey in 2012, according to the statistics produced by the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD).
It is the first time since the statistics began in 2000 that Scotland’s schools have been classed as only “average” for maths, reading and science, with none regarded as “above average”.
The Programme for International Student Assessment (Pisa) figures allow the performance of Scottish 15-year-olds in these three key areas to be compared with their peers from more than 70 other countries – as well as other parts of the UK.
Pupils’ scores in the latest tests were lower in all three areas than they had been in any previous Pisa survey. Countries such as Estonia, Poland and Slovenia recorded better results in reading than Scotland.
While in 2000 only five countries outperformed Scotland in maths, that has now increased to 14, the figures show. English pupils are also doing “significantly” better than their Scottish counterparts in science. SNP record The results are awkward for the SNP, whose leader Nicola Sturgeon has said she would like her time as First Minister to be judged on her record on improving education in Scotland.
The party is pressing on with reforms to the schools system in an attempt to drive up attainment, bringing in standardised assessments and channeling £100m into schools through changes to the council tax.
However, the Scottish Secondary Teachers’ Association said the Pisa figures were “no surprise”, citing the increased workload faced by school staff as a result of previous reforms. Holyrood’s opposition parties said the SNP should be “ashamed” of the figures.
“For all their warm words about making education a priority we are seeing performance going backwards as Scotland drops down international league tables,” said Scottish Labour’s education spokesman Iain Gray. His Conservative counterpart Liz Smith said the SNP’s obsession with independence meant it had taken its eye off the ball on education.
“These shocking statistics are a damning indictment of a decade of failure under the SNP,” she added. ‘Unacceptable’ figures Keir Bloomer, chairman of the Commission on School Reform, said: “It is no longer credible to describe Scotland’s education system as world-leading.” Education Secretary John Swinney admitted that the decline in standards was “unacceptable”. But he added that the Pisa figures – which were recorded in May last year – preceded the SNP’s latest set of school reforms and simply reiterated the need to take action.
“There is great strength in Scottish education but these results underline the case for radical reform of Scotland’s education system,” he added. “The results undoubtedly make uncomfortable reading but they contain a plain message: we must continue to make the changes that are necessary to strengthen Scottish education.”