On the one hand, the news that British schools have not improved their position in the Pisa league tables will come as no surprise at all to anyone who has read Fiona Miller`s article on the people who advise political parties in their education policies.(Who has all the big ideas?03/12/13) As the majority of advisers, and members of think-tanks, are privately educated with Oxbridge degrees, they are hardly likely to have the knowledge and expertise necessary to come up with ideas to improve the quality of education in our primary and secondary state schools.
On the other hand, the Pisa results are surprising in view of the dramatic improvements in teaching, the increased enthusiasm of the teachers and the huge increase in pupil effort I have witnessed in over forty years of teaching. Perhaps the constant changes to curriculum, the ever changing "best practice" and the importance attached to Ofsted and their criteria for judging schools and teachers, also changing from one year to the next, might have something to do with it? Not to mention, of course, governments which put the blame for just about everything that goes wrong on their watch on the teaching profession, and Secretaries of State who mis-use data to suit their own political ideologies and to advance their political ambitions!