British children are worse at maths than those from deprived backgrounds in the Far East, a new report claims.
The study, conducted by the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD), found that children of doctors and lawyers in Britain were less skilled in mathematics than children of cleaners in some Asian countries.
The analysis is taken from maths tests taken by more than half a million 15-year-olds worldwide. It ranked the UK at just 26th in the world, and concluded:
“In the United States and the United Kingdom, where professionals are among the highest-paid in the world, students whose parents work as professionals do not perform as well in mathematics as children of professionals in other countries. Nor do they perform as well as the children in Shanghai, China, and Singapore, whose parents work in manual occupations.”
The research found that the children of China’s poorest workers are over a year ahead of middle-class British children in terms of maths skills, while British children from poorer backgrounds are nearly three years behind their counterparts in Shanghai.
Education Minister Liz Truss is visiting Shanghai next week with a delegation of head teachers in a fact-finding mission. She warned that “unless we change our philosophy, and get better at maths, we will suffer economic decline. At the moment our performance in maths is weakening our skills base and threatening our productivity and growth.”