The Chancellor’s Budget reference that no-one is talking about

The Chancellor’s Budget reference that no-one is talking about

Amidst all the commentary about the Chancellor’s Budget, one point he made has largely been ignored.

Jeremy Hunt made reference to the improving educational standards in England by pointing out how the country has risen up the Pisa rankings.

These put England in 14th place out of 81 countries – and show how its curriculum that came into effect in 2014 has been a success.

You’d think the government would be shouting about it.

Indeed, Stephen Bush, writing in the FT, made the same point: “Northern Ireland, Wales, Scotland and England have all pursued radically different approaches to schools policy since the advent of devolution.

“The results are in: and outcomes in England, where the Tory party has enthusiastically built upon New Labour’s approach to schooling, are much better than elsewhere in the UK.

“The country has climbed the Pisa international rankings, which compare educational outcomes between countries, and suffered a smaller real-terms deterioration after the Covid lockdown than its peers.

“Given that the Conservatives have conducted a high number of policy experiments since 2010 with a low number of unalloyed successes, you would think the government might be inclined to shout about this one, or indeed talk about it at all.”

I was part of the panel of experts who advised on the maths syllabus and was confident that implementing the new approach would pay dividends.

A more structured and content-led curriculum has led to better performance.

This was registered in the 2018 and again in the 2022 Pisa figures. There is a slight decline in 2022 across many countries, which I think can be attributed to the Covid pandemic which had a devastating effect across the educational system.

Interestingly, there were marked differences with the other UK nations. The Pisa report shows that Scotland is in third place in the UK making it 55th out of the 81 countries.

I believe the progressive curriculum introduced by the SNP has been disastrous and we’re now seeing the real effects of this approach.

The government is being attacked from all sides but on this subject it really does have something to shout about. Why won’t it?

By improving standards, the generations now coming through school will have better life chances.

That is why it is so important. That is why the syllabus was changed. That is why England is doing so much better than Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland.