How did Shanghai win this year’s Education World Cup?
It was Finland. Before that it was Singapore. A long time ago it was West Germany. Now it is Shanghai. If there were an Education World Cup, Shanghai would currently be the holders. Shanghai’s performance in the 2012 PISA survey was exceptional, and the most recent reports suggest that the children of Shanghai’s cleaners and caterers are three years more advanced than UK lawyers’ and doctors’ children in maths. For the next three years, at least, the baggage reclaim at Shanghai Airport will be full of the world’s education ministers and their advisers. So how does Shanghai do it?
Before answering that question directly, it’s worth remembering an old statistical adage, that if something is too good to be true, it’s probably not true. The idea of an educational nirvana in which standards are high and the children of the poor do better than the children of…
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