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PISA figures show selection has failed pupils

3 December, 2013 - by Chris Hazzard

Sinn Féin Education Spokesperson Chris Hazzard has said that the latest results from the Programme for International Student Assessment (PISA) from the Organisation of Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD) shows that academic selection is failing the majority of our pupils and doesn’t increase academic excellence.

Mr. Hazzard said,

“The latest PISA figures from the OECD shows little increase in the standards achieved in English, Maths and Science since 2009 in our post-primary schools. This is in spite of the fact that our primary schools have seen continued improvement and are now among the best performing internationally.

“This is because our primary schools do not divide children based on social background.  All the evidence proves that a good social mix in school improves outcomes for all learners.  However, academic selection discards that social mix because it is children from more affluent backgrounds who tend to pass the test.

“Today’s figures bear that out and show, once again that the social division caused by academic selection is bad for the educational outcomes of all children.”

Mr. Hazzard added: “As well as failing the majority of pupils, the continued use of selection tests isn’t even achieving its stated aim of providing a route to academic excellence for those children who actually pass.

“PISA shows that the level of high attainment has not increased here since 2009, whereas it has done in many other countries, including those in the developing world. These countries do not use selection tests, yet they have been able to improve educational attainment for all children.

“This confirms that academic selection is not only discriminatory but counter-productive.

“The time has come for those who argue for the retention of selection at eleven to look at other countries who are making great strides in increasing academic attainment without the need for these and unnecessary tests.  They need to realise that all the top performers in the OECD table don’t use selection and that the interests of all the children here would be best served by ending the use of unregulated academic selection tests.”

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