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UK Education Shows Strong Progress


The official annual report into UK education has described it as showing ‘strong performance and progress’.

In particular, progress on historically low post-16 education rates has been praised by the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD).

Other highlights from the OECD’s Education at a Glance - OECD Indicators 2006 include:

  • Continued high levels of investment in education as a proportion of GDP; spending on educational institutions in the UK increased from 5.5 per cent of GDP in 1995 to 6.1 per cent in 2003, above the OECD average of 5.9 per cent: the UK invests more money per child in the early years than any other country apart from the USA.

  • Topping the 30 OECD nations in ‘educational expectancy’ – the number of years that people spend in education – with a child of five now expecting to spend an average of 20.7 years in education;

  • The UK is in the top five OECD nations for successful completion of degree courses, and has one of the highest entry rates for ‘vocational’ tertiary education, improving from 6th to 5th rank between 1998 and 2004. The UK continues to be a net exporter to the knowledge economy, remaining an attractive destination for international university students, with 11 per cent of foreign students worldwide enrolled in UK institutions, ahead of countries such as Germany, France, Australia and Canada.

Andres Schleicher, head of the Iindicators and Analysis Division at OECD said:

“This year’s education indicators point to strong performance and progress in the UK’s education system, in terms of the expected years of education where the UK now tops the OECD countries; in terms of an above-average rise in investments in education, particularly in schools, and with regard to access and use of new technologies in schools.”

However, the report does point out that the UK still has one of the highest average class sizes at primary level among OECD countries, with an average of 24.3 youngsters per class, although it does have one of the lowest averages at secondary level with 21 students per class.

Minister for Lifelong Learning, Further and Higher Education Bill Rammell said: “OECD figures relate to data provided in 2004 and earlier and we anticipate that our position will improve even further as our latest education performance features in future comparisons.

“We are delivering on one of the biggest challenges facing us in the coming years, tackling the historic neglect which has led to poor staying-on rates. The OECD provides welcome confirmation that we are beginning to turn the tide, with the UK now having over 1.5 million 16-18 year olds in education and training, the highest number ever.”


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