Funding shortages lower education standards, says PISA boss

One of the most influential figures in world education has warned that a lack of funding will lead to a lack of quality in education.

Andreas Schleicher, boss of the PISA global education rankings, has said that having tighter education budgets mean that you “lose and lack in quality” and that the financial pressure being placed on schools will harm the standard of education.

His comments follow growing concerns from influential figures in the field about funding shortages in the UK. In response, the key ministers have said that suggestions that cuts are being made are “incorrect.”

National Audit Office warnings were issued late last year, stating that English schools were facing real and severe cuts to their governmental funding.

Headteachers have been forced into issuing statements of warning about having to cut school hours, there have been threats from school governors that they may refuse to sign off budgets and grammar school leaders have said they might have to start charging parents.

Heads were angered further recently by news that the £384m that had originally been allocated to help convert schools into academies had been withdrawn and taken back by the Treasury, following the abandonment of the policy requiring all schools to become academies.

Mr Schleicher spoke in glowing terms about the educational policies of world leaders such as China, in which governments and parents prioritised the funding of the education system and the pupils therein.

“They invest in the future,” he said. “The UK has already spent the money on consumption today, that’s where the debt crisis came from.

“It’s a value choice of societies to make. Education really is an important choice; that is the future.

“The school system today is your economy tomorrow, and that is something I worry about when governments have an attitude of. ‘Oh well, let’s cut some corners here’.”

The latest PISA rankings were published in December, and showed troubling results for British schools, as these were falling behind the best in the world, and had made little to no progress since the previous results that had been published three years prior.

PISA’s rankings were based on tests taken by 15-year-olds across over 70 countries, and showed the UK was not only behind the top nations such as Finland, but also had lower education quality than lesser countries, including Poland, Estonia and Vietnam.

England may have been performing slightly higher than the rest of the UK, but this was certainly not evidence of any high performance, with UK education being described as “flat in a changing world.”

At the time of the previous results Mr Schleicher said that he was concerned about the shortage of teachers in the UK with the lack of educators representing “a major bottleneck” to the process of raising educational standards.

A spokesman for the Department of Education has said that the government has protected funding of schools “and it is now at a record level – more than £40bn this year”.

The spokesman said these figures meant it was “incorrect to say that we are taking money out of the system”.

“We recognise, however, that schools are facing cost pressures, which is why we will continue to provide advice and support to help them use their funding in cost effective ways, including improving the way they buy goods and services, so‎ they get the best possible value for their pupils.”