London teens ‘half a school year behind pupils worldwide’

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File photo dated 15/01/09 of secondary school pupils, as teenagers in London are lagging around half a school year behind their peers in many other major cities and regions worldwide, a study claims. PRESS ASSOCIATION Photo. Issue date: Thursday February 25, 2016. In maths alone, secondary school pupils in Shanghai are around three years ahead of those in the capital, according to the new study. See PA story EDUCATION London. Photo credit should read: Rui Vieira/PA Wire

Teenagers in London are lagging around half a school year behind their peers in many other major cities and regions worldwide, a new Institute of Education study claims.

The research suggests Chinese teenagers’ maths skills are around three years ahead of those of their contemporaries in the capital. Only the top 10 per cent of London’s 15-year-olds could match the maths skills of the average Shanghai teenager. It seems although London is routinely admired nationally for its high school standards, performing well in GCSE exams, and boosting the results of poorer youngsters, internationally its pupils are being surpassed by those from cities and regions in East Asia, Europe, North America and Australia. The study, by researchers at the UCL Institute of Education, used data collected from the 2009 and 2012 Programme for International Student Assessment (PISA) tests which measure the abilities of 15-year-olds in reading, maths and science. The results from around 1,057 London pupils were compared with those of youngsters around the world. The study found that London was consistently outperformed in all three areas by Shanghai, Singapore, Hong Kong, Maastricht, Helsinki, Milan, the Australian states of Western Australia, New South Wales and Victoria, the Canadian provinces of Quebec, Ontario and British Columbia, and Massachusetts and Connecticut in the United States. On a (slightly) happier note, London teenagers did outperform some of their peers internationally – they were up to two years ahead of the poorest performing places, including Rio de Janiero and Mexico State. “Overall, we find strong evidence that educational achievement is higher in London than in a number of developing cities (eg Sao Paulo, Port-of-Spain, Dubai) but behind world leaders such as Massachusetts, New South Wales (Sydney), Ontario and Shanghai,” the research concludes. It also says: “Despite strong performance in England’s national examinations, educational achievement in London remains some way behind that observed in other leading economies. “Further progress is therefore needed if London is to produce the global talent needed to keep its economy competing upon the world stage.” Study author Dr John Jerrim said: “London schools have been rightly lauded in recent years for improving performance, particularly among pupils from disadvantaged backgrounds. “However, London’s comparatively poor PISA results seem to stem from certain groups performing worse than expected, including girls, ethnic minorities and young people from lower socio-economic groups. “This is especially surprising as these groups end up doing much better on their GCSEs just six months after the international assessments. “However, it is important to remember that this is just one assessment, and is a single piece in a much bigger jigsaw. “London’s success in GCSE examinations is still a cause for celebration, though clearly much more also needs to be done to ensure children in our capital city are able to compete with the best in the world.” London’s deputy mayor for education and culture, Munira Mirza, said: “Whilst young Londoners get the best results in the country at GCSE, this research highlights the challenges still faced by London’s disadvantaged students in achieving as well as their peers.”

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