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It's time to learn the real lessons of Pisa

The clearest lesson from the latest Pisa results seems to be that free schools, parental choice and the inevitable increases in social segregation that follow do not improve a country's overall educational achievement. Many Swedes had been warning for some time that free schools were a big mistake. Pisa has provided pretty clear evidence for that. In the UK this is confirmed by areas with and without grammar schools: the overall results of counties with selection are worse than those that are closer to the comprehensive ideal. But when has clear evidence ever guided ministerial decisions?

The flatlining of the UK's Pisa results is no surprise. As long as all the antique foibles of English spelling remain unreformed, and learning to read and write continues to be exceptionally difficult, overall educational attainment cannot change significantly. But who is interested in tackling that enormous elephant in the room? Certainly not this government.

Masha Bell, Author of the e-book Spelling It Out: the problems and costs of English spelling.

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