I hesitate to put this posting on the blog because it feels like, well, here we are again! What do you know? Britain is still falling behind in the world rankings in literacy, maths and science.
The latest performance tables, based on the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development's Programme for International Student Assessment (Pisa), shows Britain dropping from seventh to seventeenth in reading and from fourth to fourteenth in science. In maths the picture is even worse: we are now ranked twenty-fourth, which is below the international average. The latest round of tests was taken in 2009.
The data, according to the Telegraph correspondent Graeme Paton, are based on 'on independent tests taken by 400,000 15-year-olds worldwide'. Of course, the Coalition will make hay of the fact that the decline has taken place in spite of the fact that the previous Labour government spent well over £2 billion on the literacy and numeracy strategies.
Over the last ten years, Britain participated in 2000, when a 'stronger performance' was reported, 2006 and 2009. For some reason the country didn't participate in the 2003 tests. In 2006, standards in all three subjects had already fallen and, it seems, things have gone downhill since then.
What Paton is arguing is that unless we wake up and realise that Britain is competing within a global market and that our competitors – many of whom speak a range of languages, including English – are forging ahead in the world rankings for literacy, science and maths, our line of travel southwards can only continue.