2007 OECD Economic Surveys: United Kingdom 2007

image of OECD Economic Surveys: United Kingdom 2007

This 2007 edition of OECD's periodic economic survey of the British economy finds that the UK has embraced globalisation and has been rewarded with strong growth and performance, but that the near-term outlook is more uncertain, given recent financial market turbulence. Among other issues, it looks at key challenges including globalisation, raising educational achievement, improving work prospects for the least skilled, the productivity gap, and tax competition.

English Also available in: French

Raising education achievement within a tighter budget constraint

Globalisation, together with skill-biased technical change, is changing the composition of jobs in advanced economies and raising the level of skills required to do them. This has increased the importance of educating a large proportion of the population to much higher standards than in the past. The government has responded to this challenge by raising education spending and expanding the capacity of the education system in key areas such as pre-primary education and increased participation in education beyond the age of 16. The United Kingdom has also pioneered the use of school benchmarking techniques and the use of targets to raise school quality. However, targets may also have biased some measures of education performance. Socio-economic background plays an important role in explaining education performance, and the government has addressed this by the use of funding formulas which direct additional resources to areas with a higher proportion of pupils from deprived backgrounds. There has been some improvement in the most disadvantaged schools but pupils in the middle and lower half of the distribution continue to perform particularly poorly relative to students in countries with the best performing education systems. Overall, the socio-economic gaps remain large. One explanation may be that local authorities and schools are not distributing deprivation funds as intended by the central government, resulting in outcomes which can be seen as inequitable. Stronger measures may be required to correct this imbalance. This chapter proposes a number of avenues for encouraging higher educational attainment, without significant further increases in expenditure.

English Also available in: French

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