English education: world class?

What would it take for England to be considered a truly world class education system?

By Natalie Perera; Jon Andrews; Dr John Jerrim

On 24th August 2017, pupils received their GCSE results – which included the first set of results for English and maths under the new grading system. These new qualifications, designed to be more demanding, will see pupils achieve grades on a new 9-1 scale – with the Government defining a grade 5 as a ‘strong pass’.

In this major new report, in partnership with UCL Institute of Education, EPI has identified what these new grades mean in terms of a world class education system and how far education in England needs to improve to match the highest performing countries in the world. The report uses the latest international PISA data in order to identify a ‘world-class standard’ (based on the performance of the highest attaining countries) and consider the performance of pupils in England in relation to the new standard – the results are represented in both current and new GCSE grading systems.

The report also looks at how different parts of the country are performing, as well as examining how far behind Scotland, Wales, and Northern Ireland are in relation to the new standard. Looking at average overall attainment, the report finds that England’s education system needs to undergo significant improvement if it is to keep pace with the world’s best education systems: to match the highest performing countries in the world, pupils in England must, on average, achieve a ‘strong pass’ in maths and English – a grade 5 under the new GCSE grading system (and the equivalent of a high C or low B grade).

Read the full report