Scottish students show positive attitudes towards others in OECD PISA 6

published 26 October 2020 updated 28 October 2020

According to the recent Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD) Programme for International Student Assessment (PISA) Volume 6 report, Scottish students are among the top achievers in the area of understanding and appreciating the perspective of others based on responses. They have positive attitudes towards immigrants and do well in some related areas.

Volume 6 of the PISA report based on data from 2018, explores areas not previously surveyed. Although students from 27 countries and economies participated, the OECD countries that did not include the UK, except for Scotland.

In “Scottish pupils among top performers in new Pisa test”, an article in “tes”, a weekly publication in the UK for education professionals, Larry Flanigan, the General Secretary of the Education Institute of Scotland, the largest Scottish teacher union and EI member organisation, said,

“Scotland’s students scored exceptionally well in showing empathy with others and being concerned about the type of world in which we live. This confirms that the nurturing of values, which our schools are committed to, is bearing dividends. Given the current pressures created by Covid-19, the report’s overall conclusion about the importance of schools as communities where young people can grow is timely. Pisa 6 argues that tomorrow’s schools will need to help students think for themselves and to develop a strong sense of right and wrong – something that Scotland’s teachers already successfully strive to support, as evidenced in the report.”

One of the areas that the OECD judged positive for understanding others and their cultures was speaking foreign languages. In that area, Scotland was below average. According to PISA Volume 6, “The largest proportion of students who speak several languages was observed in Croatia, Estonia, Hong Kong (China), Latvia, Macao (China), Malta and Singapore, where more than 90% of students reported that they speak two or more languages. The smallest proportion was observed in Australia, Brazil, Chile, Colombia, Korea, Mexico, Scotland (United Kingdom) and Viet Nam.”

Of those surveyed, Scotland was among the top three based on the global competence cognitive test. Only two countries scored higher, Canada and Singapore. Hong Kong also had higher scores.

The new set of survey questions, with earlier additions, have considerably expanded elements and comparisons beyond what was originally measured by PISA. It provides a more well-rounded view of the contributions of education. As Andreas Schleicher, OECD director for education and skills, said in the introduction to the PISA 6 report:

“Education is key to helping young people navigate today’s increasingly complex and interconnected world. The schools and education systems that are most successful in fostering global knowledge, skills and attitudes among young people are those that offer a curriculum that values openness to the world, provide a positive and inclusive learning environment and offer opportunities to relate to people from other cultures.”