Gibb attacks ‘too political’ Pisa rankings body

Schools standards minister has previously cited OECD's Pisa study in support of his views on teaching methods and school autonomy

Martin George

nick gibb, pisa, oecd, political, too political, tom bennett, researchED, interview, schleicher

Nick Gibb has criticised the organisation behind the influential Pisa international rankings of education for being too political.

The schools minister has previously cited Pisa research to support his views on teacher-directed instruction, and used comments from Andreas Schleicher, head of education at the Organisation for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD), to back his views about school autonomy.

And Mr Gibb's former education secretary, Michael Gove, famously called Mr Schleicher “the most important man in English education”.

Mr Gove warned that “ignoring what Pisa tells us in education would be as foolish as dismissing what control trials tell us in medicine. We would by flying in the face of the best evidence we have of what works”.

However, in an interview published in this month’s researchED magazine, Mr Gibb was asked “has the OECD become too political in its pronouncements?”

In response, he said: “I think so. They are pushing a particular, progressive approach to education, the 21st-century competence-based curriculum.”

He added: “When you go to these international conferences with Andreas Schleicher and others, it’s almost assumed that you want to have a competence-based curriculum; and I talk to other education ministers from around the world, including some from the developing world who have been advised by the OECD to go down this route that we know doesn’t work.

“So we have to challenge it, and I’ve started challenging it internationally and I am a lone voice.”

However, the minister cited Nuno Cratto, a former Portuguese education minister, as someone who “absolutely agrees with what we’re doing in this country and shares our concerns”.

Mr Gibb added: “I think that gradually we’ll get the message across that this is not the right approach.”

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