Teenagers in the UK lag behind most of the Western world in their mastering of the basic skills of Maths, English and IT, according to an study published today.The Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development compiled a report. The report shows there has been no improvement in examination performance in the basic skills between today’s 16 to 24-year-olds and their grandparents’ age who are aged between 55 to 65-year-olds. This is despite many government initiatives over the years by successive governments to increase standards.
Alarmingly, UK teenagers are the only ones in the western world to fare worse than their older peers in the test in the basics. The figures alarm experts who claim that this will have an alarming impact upon the UK’s ability to compete in the world with major skill shortages in areas such as Maths and Science. They also put a question mark over the validity of improving exam results in the UK and lend credibility to claims made by the Education Secretary Michael Gove and other critics of the current system of grade inflation, particularly at GCSE and A level level, over the past decades. This is echoed by maths tutor Steven Britton who argued for years that standards are falling and exams are getting easier. He also warns that academically inclined students could lose out with emphasis being put too much on academic subjects with the new changes that are going to take place.
Criticism has also come from Universities who express concern at the removal of the practical component from the A level science courses. The chair of Score and also the vice chancellor of Brunel University Prof. Julia Buckingham, criticized the changes that are going to be made to the A level Science courses. She said that universities looking at applications will see the A-level grade “as a full reflection of a student’s knowledge and ability”. She goes on to say that the new A Level Science courses will miss the practical work “which is an integral component of science learning”. The report concludes by saying that: “In England, adults aged 55 to 65 perform better than 16 to 24-year-olds in both literacy and numeracy. “. This is an alarming find and will be some worry to Michael Gove. Currently England is the only country where the oldest age group fares better in both literacy and numeracy compared to that of the youngest age group. This is after other factors, such as gender, socio-economic backgrounds and type occupations, are taken into account.
Steven Britton who has provided Maths Tuition for many years and has helped many students achieve examination success has argued for tougher new qualifications to be brought in together with new teaching methods. He goes on to say that “We need to go back to basics and go back to the old school system whereby less academically inclined students can learn skills that are relevant to them, and for academically inclined students to be allowed to excel. The current system fails everybody, we cannot have a one size fits all education policy that doesn’t address the needs of all. The comprehensive system has been a complete sham and arguments that say its discriminatory and elitist are simply not true. If anything the current comprehensive system discriminates against all types of students and is not fit for purpose”.