The cities and countries around the world with the 'smartest' children

Narjas T. Zatat@NtheodoraK
Thursday 25 February 2016 12:10

London pupils are falling behind global competition, a new report on global education standards claims.

Schools in the capital have traditionally outperformed the rest of the UK in GCSE examinations, however a report by UCL presents new data that suggests those statistics may not show the full picture.

Using the Programme for International Student Assessment (Pisa) test results for 2009 and 2012, which surveys the educational performance of 15-year-olds in cities, regions and countries around the world, Jerrim’s findings show that London students are far behind their international counterparts.

Out of 50 countries, the findings suggest that if London were to take the Pisa test as a separate education system, it would be 39th in Maths, 34th in Reading and 31st in Science in a pool of top 50 performing economies.

London did not fare much better when separate gender performance was assessed. In all three subjects, boys tended to perform much better in tests than girls, with Shanghai, Singapore and Hong Kong coming in at the top three and outperforming London in almost every way.

The report states:

We find strong evidence that educational achievement is higher in London than in a number of developing cities (e.g. São Paulo, Port-of-Spain, Dubai) but behind world leaders such as Massachusetts, New South Wales (Sydney), Ontario and Shanghai.

Here are the top ten performing countries and cities, calculated by mean performance using 2009 and 2012 results, for the three key subjects:


1. Shanghai 606

2. Singapore 568

3. Hong Kong 558

4. Chinese Taipei 551

5. South Korea 550

6. Liechtenstein 536

7. Japan 533

8. Switzerland 532

9. Macedonia 531

10. Finland 530

26. UK 495

39. London 479


1. Shanghai 577

2. Hong Kong 552

3. Finland 550

4. Singapore 547

5. Japan 543

6. South Korea 538

7. Estonia 534

8. Viet Nam 528

9. Canada 527

10. Australia 524

17. UK 516

31. London 497


1. Shanghai 562

2. Hong Kong 539

3. South Korea 538

4. Singapore 534

5. Finland 530

6. Japan 529

7. Canada 524

8. New Zealand 517

9. Australia 513

10. Netherlands 510

23. UK 499

34. London 483

Given London's reputation as an education powerhouse, these findings are at odds with London's global image.

The report concludes:

Despite strong performance in England’s national examinations, educational achievement in London remains some way behind that observed in other leading economies. Further progress is therefore needed if London is to produce the global talent needed to keep its economy competing upon the world stage.

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