How Did English Schools and Pupils Really Perform in the 1995 International Comparisons in Mathematics?

Pub. Date
01 July, 1997

The recently published results of mathematics tests set to representative samples of pupils in over forty countries provide an important opportunity to re-assess priorities for reforms in English schooling. Five Western European countries--Austria, Belgium, France, Netherlands, Switzerland are suggested in this critical study as providing appropriate standards for England's immediate aims. Attainments there are shown to be about a year ahead of England for average pupils at age 14; the gap is larger for those of below-average attainment, suggesting some structural bias in English schooling. The gap is particularly evident in those arithmetical fundamentals which need to be mastered by all school-leavers (rather than in advanced aspects suitable only for mathematical specialists); and that gap has its clear origins at the primary level of schooling.