Education news

Tests in global competence welcomed by integrated education campaigners

Pupils in the north perform slightly better than the global average in international Pisa tests in science, maths and reading

TESTS that plan to ask pupils questions about fake news, global warming and racism have been welcomed by integrated education campaigners.

International education rankings will test young people on "global competence" from this year.

The Programme for International Student Assessment (Pisa) typically provide international benchmarks in mathematics, reading literacy and science in 72 countries.

They are coordinated by the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD) and have become among the most widely used measures for global education standards.

In 2016, they found pupils in Northern Ireland performed above the OECD average in science but were at the average in mathematics and reading

Inaugural tests for global competence will take place this year. OECD said global competence was needed "to live harmoniously in multicultural communities".

The Integrated Education Fund (IEF) said it welcomed news that the rankings would include measurements of social skills and attitudes.

Chief executive Tina Merron said the decision acknowledged the importance of holistic education and the role schools play in preparing young people.

"The integrated education movement has long argued that educating children and young people together, in an environment of inclusion and diversity, helps to develop important skills and attitudes alongside academic study," she said.

"We were proud to publish, in 2015, a report from a Fulbright scholar on research into how successful schools educate the whole child. Professor James Nehring, from the University of Massachusetts Lowell, said the best schools teach academic knowledge alongside skills which equip pupils for modern adult life."

Prof Nehring worked with four schools from different sectors in the north to explore how ethos, pastoral care and academic demands could work together to develop competencies which pupils would need in work and civic life.

He recommended that the Department of Education should prioritise cross-community integration saying it was "a powerful lever not only for peace-building but also for high level learning".

OECD Director of Education and Skills, Andreas Schleicher, echoed the vision of the integrated education movement saying schools played a crucial role in developing global competence.

"Schools can provide opportunities for young people to critically examine developments that are significant to both the world at large and to their own lives," he said.

"They can teach students how to use digital information and social media platforms critically and responsibly. Schools can also encourage intercultural sensitivity and respect by encouraging students to engage in experiences that nurture an appreciation for diverse peoples, languages and cultures."

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