The Pisa results and the impact on Functional Skills

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I listened to a Radio 5 Live programme this week.  It was in response to the Pisa tables which show that the UK fails miserably in achieving a sensible place in Literacy and Numeracy.  Some points of note are that countries with emerging high-ranking achievements are also a) educating their children for 10 - 12 hours per day and b) noticing an alarming increase in suicide rates of students.

During the programme there were many diverse viewpoints from callers as to why/how the UK may not be doing so well and what we might do about it.  Here's a summary:

  • we can only work with the raw material (ie crap students)
  • we have a cluttered curriculum (too much to learn)
  • behaviour is the problem (really?)
  • we should increase student learning hours (suicide rates?)

This got me thinking, especially as none of the above seems to resonate with my experiences.   But one caller to the show was a...