by Donna Rachel Edmunds
British school children are getting an increasingly raw deal
from the British education system thanks to larger class sizes and
poorer attainment, a new report has found. Critics have pointed to the
government’s failure to build enough new schools to keep up with
increasing demand due to high immigration rates.
Researchers at the management consultancy firm Boston Consulting
Group found that, based on based on class size, enrolment to tertiary
education, number of years in education and international test scores,
Britain ranked 36th on a list of 149 countries, behind Hong Kong,
Singapore, and even Poland, the Daily Mail has reported.
In Poland, class sizes average just 20 pupils, compared to the UK
average of 26. This year, the number of classes with more than 30
children will hit a 15 year high. And when the children are compared
like for like on metrics such as maths, science and reading using PISA
tests, Britain was ranked 26th in 2012, whilst Poland ranked at number
Perhaps of even greater concern are results showing that Britain is
continuing to slip behind – despite five years of reform under the
Coalition government, when ranked in terms of progress in education
Britain came in a poor 133th place. Poland was at 28.
A Department of Education spokesman defended the government’s record,
saying it’s “focus on standards” were helping young people to “achieve
But the government has been criticised for failing to keep up with
the growing demand for school places that has come about through large
Last week the Office for National Statistics reported that a
net 285,000 people came to the UK to work last year. Ukip’s Migration
Spokesman, Steven Woolfe said:
“That is a city the size of Nottingham, which has nearly a 100 schools,
60 GP surgeries and several hospitals. Britain needs to provide the
equivalent just to keep up with the workers arriving and this
illustrates clearly the strain mass migration is putting on our public
The primary school sector has been particularly hard hit, with an estimated 24,000 pupils missing out on securing a place at any of their preferred choices when the allocations were announced last month.
Patrick Leeson of Kent County Council said: “Our schools admissions
team has been working hard, as usual, to ensure that as many pupils as
possible get a school from among their preferred choices and we are
pleased to see that the number of both first and second choices has
“However, we will not lose sight of the fact that 4 percent of pupils
have not been given a school from their preferences. While many will
secure places through waiting lists and reallocation, I am aware that
this will be a difficult time and we will do what we can to offer a good
One parent who knew what that felt like was Helen, who in 2013 took to the parenting forum Mumsnet
when her daughter was placed in a failing school far from their home.
She wrote: “Can’t stop crying. i thought i would log on and see what
primary school place we had been offered for my eldest. SHOCK we were
not offered any of the three we put down (all our 3 closest primary
schools and within 0.4miles of our home address).
“We have been offered the worst school ever and in distant it is the
19th primary school away from us. i have checked the last ofsted report
and it is awful, by end of reception child are lower than average and it
scored 3’s and 4’s in everything. Feel sick to my core as i do not want
her to go here. Anyone been through the appeal process, omg this cant
Fellow mother Clair commisserated, posting “Slightly different I know but we are appealing for secondary school.
“We have been offered the 5th choice. Its a 40 minute bus ride away –
public transport (no school bus), there are no other children from her
school going which means she would be doing this journey on her own.
“The school that was my 1st choice is an academy that specialises in
sport, Olivia is on the gifted and talented register for sports and
gymnastics (the one we have been offered specialises in drama!!!) so
much for teaching the kids to their capabilitites (sic)”
Last year as part of a documentary meant to cast immigration in a
positive light, the BBC’s Nick Robinson interviewed Anne Steele-Arnett, a
primary school head teacher. She laid it on the line, telling Robinson:
“We are full, and I think parents who are coming into the city
now need to appreciate that they can’t sort of pick and choose anymore.
The schools in the city are full to bursting.”
Commenting on the record breaking immigration numbers, Mr
Woolfe called on the government to “act now in three areas. It must stop
the free movement of people into the UK from the EU.
“Second, it must improve the control systems and review the conditions for visa issuance for immigrants from non-EU countries.
“Third, it must increase the numbers of border control staff to
ensure that we crack down on illegal immigrants entering the UK and can
deport those who are caught once here.”