The Fair Education Alliance (FEA) anticipates that the 2016 PISA (Programme for International Student Assessment) will be a “wake-up call”, for the UK in a series of essays entitled “Building a World-Class Education System that is Fair”. The FEA is calling for the debate around this week’s PISA results to focus on closing the gap between pupils from low income families and their wealthier peers as a way of improving England’s performance.
Sir Richard Lambert, Chair of the FEA, commented
“PISA should be a wake-up call. If we don’t act with speed to close the gap in performance, our country risks becoming an underachieving offshore island which in the next decade or two will watch much of the rest of the world go racing by.
The success of countries like the Netherlands and Finland also make it absolutely clear that it is possible to combine high performance with high levels of equity in education. We now need new policies and systems in place to meet that ambition”
The essays also set out practical recommendations for reducing educational inequality and closing the performance gap to the highest achieving countries in the world. In particular:
• Claire Read from Save the Children: argues that we must invest more time and resources into supporting young people before they arrive at school, as it is proven that children supported by positive early environments go on to perform more strongly in later life
• Catherine Knowles from Achievement for All: says there needs to be a greater focus on the ‘essentials of numeracy’ in the early years of education and across all primary schools
• Brett Wigdortz from Teach First: argues that a world-class education system is within reach in the UK, but we must address urgently address the teacher shortage and promote the profession, especially to ease the shortage in Maths and Science teachers
• Jess Tanner and Miranda Dobson from Family Links and The Nurturing Schools Network : say that socially and emotionally competent pupils can be a mark of success in itself and that we must to do more to recognise that wellbeing and happiness at school are also crucial to educational outcomes