Amid the worry of the low UK rankings in science and mathematics, Bishop Donald brings a voice of concern for educational pressure on the young in the House of Lords on 13 December.
In the discussion of the latest Programme for International Student Assessment (PISA) rankings, Lord Nash, the Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State, Department for Education, stated that UK 15 year olds had performed above the OECD average in science and reading and at the average in mathematics.
Lord Nash said: “This is a credit to the hard work of teachers and pupils. Obviously, however, we will struggle to maintain our position as the fifth-largest economy in the world if we do not raise our game; hence our extensive reforms.”
However, Lord Sharkey expressed his disappointment that the UK was ranked 27th internationally for mathematics – down one place.
Lord Sharkey said: “22% of our 15 year olds cannot solve problems routinely faced by adults in their daily lives.”
The focus on the UK ranking in international scores led Bishop Donald to speak out.
“My Lords, is the Minister aware that, in a number of the countries that have much higher academic standards at secondary school level, particularly those in the Far East—I know the story of South Korea quite well—there is also a much higher suicide rate among teenagers?”
Bishop Donald went on: “Does he agree that our schools need to help people learn in ways that they enjoy and are healthy holistically, and that schools should encourage a love of learning rather than a fear of failure?”
Lord Nash agreed that love of learning was paramount and paid tribute to the Church of England performance in education. “Of course a love of learning is important, and we believe that being taught by teachers with a very high subject knowledge can inspire pupils.”