OECD education report encouraging for Britain

The OECD's annual Education at a Glance report showed encouraging signs for the British education system, though it also revealed there was still work to do.

The publication today of the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development’s annual “Education at a Glance” report reveals a number of encouraging signs for the UK education sector.

Britain remains in the top quartile of OECD countries in terms of investment per pupil. The report, however, points to areas where continued and increasing investment is necessary, to further increase the proportion of people in higher education, improve competitiveness, and increase the proportion of the population that completes upper secondary education (where the UK is still below average).

The OECD’s Director for Education, Barbara Ischinger, said:

“Education has always been a critical investment for the future, for individuals, for economies and for societies at large. As far-reaching as the labour market impacts of the crisis are, the potential social consequences may last even longer.

“Educational attainment seems to be positively associated with such social outcomes as better health, political interest and interpersonal trust and this is bound to feature in public policy discussions about spending priorities. Education can therefore be a powerful lever to moderate the social consequences too.”

Today’s ComRes poll for the Independent showed more than 80% of the public support real terms increases in education and health spending year on year, despite the deficit in public finances.

And this evening Chancellor Alistair Darling will give a speech in Cardiff where he will set out the “hard choices” that Labour will face on public sector spending after the next election. He’ll talk about how Labour will prioritise spending and will commit to education being among these priorities; the Conservatives, by contrast, have made no such commitment.

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