Global league tables for education produced for multi-national Pearson by the Economist Intelligence Unit put the UK 6th. Amongst European countries only Finland is ahead in rankings again dominated by East Asian countries –with South Korea at the head.
But like all league tables, what you get is what you measure. The Pearson version also includes rankings for participation in higher education as well as performance in Pisa international school tests. This is one of the main reasons for the UK being higher than Germany which has lower participation in HE.
On the other hand Germany has an apprenticeship system which offers training for all young people who want it and manages to find employment for 90% of those who complete, while in comparison, one in three UK graduates end up in work that they are overqualified for. Even more ridiculous and presumably referring to the current ‘Osborne bubble’ in the UK, Pearson CEO John Fallen told the BBC that the data confirms the strong link between improved performances in education and increased economic growth. http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/business-27314075
Meanwhile 100 leading academics, including the UK’s Stephen Ball and Sally Tomlinson have attacked the OECDs Pisa tables for killing the ‘joy of learning’ and called for alternatives that
‘explore more meaningful and less easily sensationalized ways of reporting assessment outcomes. For example, comparing developing countries, where 15-year olds are regularly drafted into child labor, with first world countries makes neither educational nor political sense and opens OECD up for charges of educational colonialism’
This is an important initiative which will hopefully be taken up in campaigns in the UK where Michael Gove has continued to use the PISA tables and practices from East Asian countries to justify his curriculum reforms and examination reforms.