High Standards of Teaching the Key to Singapore's Pisa Success; Wales'15-Year-Olds Continue to Lag Behind Many Other Nations in the Basics, the Latest Results from the Triennial Programme for International Student Assessment (Pisa) Reveal. Education Editor Abbie Wightwick Reports. 'Explaining Scientific Ideas Often Will Improve Results'

Western Mail (Cardiff, Wales), December 7, 2016 | Go to article overview

High Standards of Teaching the Key to Singapore's Pisa Success; Wales'15-Year-Olds Continue to Lag Behind Many Other Nations in the Basics, the Latest Results from the Triennial Programme for International Student Assessment (Pisa) Reveal. Education Editor Abbie Wightwick Reports. 'Explaining Scientific Ideas Often Will Improve Results'


FOUR policies unite the bestperforming countries in the 2015 Pisa schools tests, according to the OECD, which carried out the survey.

Teaching, which the world's most successful country, Singapore, has put at the heart of its strategy, is at their core.

The OECD lists the four policies uniting the best-performing countries as: | High and universal expectations for all students; | strong focus on great teaching; | resources targeted at struggling students and schools, and, | commitment to coherent, longterm strategies.

The report says quality teaching and respect and support for teachers are vital.

It says: "The most successful education systems select the best candidates for the teaching profession, retain qualified teachers and ensure that they are constantly improving by participating in professional development activities.

"In these systems, education and the teaching profession are greatly valued by society, teachers are adequately compensated, the teaching career is transparent and clearly structured, teachers are given many opportunities - and encouragement - to learn, and they receive feedback on their teaching regularly, such as through mentoring programmes organised by schools."

While Singapore outperforms the rest of the world, other top-ranking countries in reading, maths and science in Pisa's 2015 results, published yesterday, are Japan, Estonia, Finland and Canada.

Only in Canada, Estonia, Finland, Hong Kong (China), Japan, Macao (China) and Singapore do at least nine out of 10 15-year-old students master the baseline level of proficiency in science, reading and maths. Prof Sing Kong Lee, vice-president of Nanyang Technological University, where Singapore's National Institute of Education is based, said standards of teaching were behind his country's success.

"Singapore invested heavily in a quality teaching force - to raise the prestige and status of teaching and to attract the best graduates," he said.

The country recruits its teachers from the top 5% of graduates and all teachers are trained at the National Institute of Education to ensure quality control.

On science - the main focus of Pisa 2015 - the OECD report says time pupils spend learning is more strongly associated with performance turn to page 18 from page 17 than how well equipped and staffed their science lab is, or even science teachers' qualifications.

But the report suggests teachers in Wales may not be explaining scientific ideas enough.

Almost everywhere, students who reported that their teachers explain scientific ideas more frequently score higher in science, even after accounting for socio-economic status.

In the UK, 65% of students reported their teachers explain scientific ideas in many or all lessons - and these students score 56 points higher in science than students who reported that their teachers explain scientific ideas only in some lessons or never. …

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High Standards of Teaching the Key to Singapore's Pisa Success; Wales'15-Year-Olds Continue to Lag Behind Many Other Nations in the Basics, the Latest Results from the Triennial Programme for International Student Assessment (Pisa) Reveal. Education Editor Abbie Wightwick Reports. 'Explaining Scientific Ideas Often Will Improve Results'
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