LONDON, ENGLAND – SEPTEMBER 05: Education Secretary Gillian Keegan leaves the weekly cabinet meeting at 10 Downing Street on September 5, 2023 in London, England. (Photo by Dan Kitwood/Getty Images)
A worldwide education study released on Tuesday (5), 2023, revealed that pupils in England have significantly improved in mathematics, climbing to 11th place from 17th in 2018 and 27th in 2009, marking a substantial advancement in international rankings.
Conducted by the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD), the Programme for International Student Assessment (PISA) assesses 15-year-olds’ proficiency in mathematics, reading, and science, serving as a global benchmark for secondary school students’ academic achievements, a press release from the Department for Education said.
The report underscored the strides made by the government in enhancing academic standards.
In October, the prime minister introduced an ambitious plan to implement a new baccalaureate-style qualification called the Advanced British Standard (ABS), aiming to ensure that every student in England studies some form of mathematics and English until the age of 18, equipping them with essential skills for future success.
As part of this initiative, the government has committed an investment of £60 million over two years to enhance mathematics education and pave the way for the ABS’s introduction.
The most recent results indicate that England secured 13th place in both reading and science, marking an improvement from previous standings (14th in reading and 13th in science in 2018, and 25th and 16th respectively in 2009).
These achievements build upon England’s notably enhanced performance in a separate international study earlier in the year, PIRLS, where English children ranked fourth among 43 comparable countries, establishing them as the top performers in the Western world for 9- to 10-year-olds’ reading ability.
Education standards in England have seen a significant rise since 2010, with 89% of schools currently rated as good or outstanding by the Office for Standards in Education (Ofsted), marking a notable increase from the 68% rating 13 years ago.
The education secretary, Gillian Keegan, attributed these successes to dedicated educators, determined students, and the government’s unwavering commitment to elevating school standards over the past 13 years.
She said, “Taken together with our children being named ‘Best in the West’ for reading earlier this year, England is now firmly cemented as one of the top performing countries for education in the western world.
“Our teachers, head teachers and support staff should be incredibly proud of their role, day in and day out, transforming education standards in this country and giving our children the platform to build successful careers and compete for the best jobs in world.”
The report also highlighted positive aspects beyond achievement. It emphasised the equity of England’s education system, ensuring all children have access to quality education regardless of their background.
Furthermore, students in England expressed higher satisfaction with math lessons and teacher support compared to the OECD average.
Notably, England achieved its highest-ever score in primary school math in TIMSS 2019.
The government’s investment of over £100 million in the Maths Hubs programme has expanded Teaching for Mastery to reach 65% of secondary schools by 2025.
Additionally, a new National Professional Qualification aims to enhance teaching practices across schools.
The report also acknowledges the pandemic’s impact. In England, nearly £5 billion has been allocated for education recovery measures, with over £1 billion specifically for the National Tutoring Programme.
This programme has transformed targeted support for children and young individuals who require it the most. Additionally, the report notes that most pupils in England expressed feeling secure in their school environments.