Massive investment did not boost performance in UK education says OECD
Britain has spent billions of pounds in education over the past decade and a half yet standards have not improved says the annual OECD comparative study.
Under the previous Labour administration, both Tony Blair and Gordon Brown during their respective tenures in No. 10 had invested heavily in education. During New Labour’s 13 years in power, the percentage of public purse spent on education grew from 3.6% to 4.5%. In 2009, UK was the sixth higher spender in education among OECD countries.
According to figures released by the Office for National Statistics, total Government spending on education between 2000 and 2009 soared from £35.3bn to £63.9bn. But the report released last week concluded that there was little evidence that this investment has led to any improvement in pupil performance.
In 2010, tests taken by 15 year olds in OECD countries in core subjects put UK at the 25th place (down 8 places) in English, 24th for Math (down 2 places) and 16th in Science (down 2 places).
“Spending in the UK has gone up really a lot and has not been reflected in changes to [exam] scores,” Andreas Schleicher, deputy director for education at the OECD said. “You have seen huge effort on the part of Government and at the same time outcomes have been flat.”
The Education a Glance report also points out that UK schools are the most “socially segregated” in the developed world and often poorer children find themselves with other poorer children in struggling schools. According to the Paris based think tank, the social background of a school’s student population plays a big part in pupil’s educational outcomes.
But the OECD does commend UK’s efforts to get more young people into University and the report concludes that tuition fees are not a deterrent as long as there are adequate financial aid options. In fact, UK is best in this field, Schleicher said.
The coalition government is committed to reducing inequalities in the education system, a spokesperson for the Department of Education said and argued that the “pupil premium” will go a long way to address the current gap between the more and less affluent.
Universities Minister David Willetts said: "This latest report from the OECD's confirms that UK universities deliver good returns for students, taxpayers and the wider economy. The earnings premium enjoyed by graduates remains higher than the OECD average and the demand for UK graduates in the workplace continues to be strong despite the global recession. And, very importantly, the numbers going to university from disadvantaged backgrounds continues to rise."