Confusion over cost leaves London schools behind

26 February 2015

In a meeting of the London Assembly Education Panel yesterday, Assembly Members heard how the perceived cost of testing pupils has prevented the capital from featuring in the Programme for International Student Assessment (PISA) - an internationally-recognised survey of the knowledge and skills of 15-year olds conducted in over 70 countries.

While performance is measured for the UK's pupils at the national level, it's not currently possible to measure the performance of pupils in London because not enough of its schools participate in the survey. Meanwhile, cities such as Shanghai and Berlin already collect this information.

As part of the Panel’s investigation into how to prepare London’s students to compete in a global labour market, Deputy Mayor for Education and Culture, Munira Mirza, told the Assembly that the reason why she thought the necessary sample size of 50 schools was not met was because of the high cost involved - estimated by the Greater London Authority (GLA) at approximately £1 million.

Andreas Schleicher, Director for the Directorate of Education and Skills at the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD), told Members that the cost of collecting this information at a city level would in fact be approximately £35,000 to £70,000, for a survey conducted once every three years.

Jennette Arnold OBE AM, Chair of the London Assembly Education Panel said:

"We know that London's pupils are performing well compared to pupils in the rest of the country. But London needs to stay ahead of its international competitors in terms of its educational standards, and we currently don't know how our pupils' performance compares against other global cities.

The PISA programme is an internationally-recognised survey that would give us this information. We only need 50 schools in London to participate, and the costs involved are much lower than everyone here originally believed. We urge the GLA to look again at the costs involved and make a quick decision on whether to provide the funding needed to participate in the 2015 survey round."

View the webcast here.

Notes for Editors:

Read 'London learners, London lives: Tackling the school places crisis and supporting children to achieve the best they can'.

Jennette Arnold OBE AM, Chair of the Education Panel, is available for interview – see contact details below.

As well as investigating issues that matter to Londoners, the London Assembly acts as a check and a balance on the Mayor.

For media enquiries, please contact Mary Dolan on 020 7983 4603. For out of hours media enquiries, call 020 7983 4000 and ask for the London Assembly duty press officer. Non-media enquiries should be directed to the Public Liaison Unit on 020 7983 4100.