The great schools revolution, Ctd

Continuing on our discussion about the great schools revolution.

This post will set off the teacher unions even more than the last one. It seems that setting high standards for teachers, nationals standards to keep track of underachieving pupils and school choice are big factors. Watch the vested interests oppose every one of those?initiatives. The results though can’t be argued.

Culture is certainly a factor. Many Asian parents pay much more attention to their children?s test results than Western ones do, and push their schools to succeed. Singapore, Hong Kong and South Korea sit comfortably at the top of McKinsey?s rankings (see table 2). But not only do some Western countries do fairly well; there are also huge differences within them. Even if you put to one side the unusual Asians, as this briefing will now do, many Western systems could jump forward merely by bringing their worst schools up to the standard of their best.

So what are the secrets of success? Though there is no one template, four important themes emerge: decentralisation (handing power back to schools); a focus on underachieving pupils; a choice of different sorts of schools; and high standards for teachers. These themes can all be traced in three places that did well in McKinsey?s league: Ontario, Poland and Saxony.