Economic costs of underachievement at school

Last week the Guardian published an article identifying the economic costs of current underachievement in school.  The research, based on work undertaken by the OECD, found that the UK economy could be boosted by ‘billions of pounds a year’ if underachievement amongst youngsters at schools was reduced.

The Guardian reported that 20% of pupils in schools in England, Scotland and Wales leave school without gaining basic skills in numeracy.  The OECD report ranked the UK 20th out of 76 countries in terms of the percentage of pupils who lack basic academic and problem solving skills.

The OECD found that by bringing all pupils up to the same minimum level of achievement by 2030, the UK’s national economy would grow by an additional £2tn by 2095.  Their argument is that the costs spent in schools to ensure that all pupils achieve basic key skills will be more than paid for by the economic benefit that this could bring to the UK as a whole.

The OECD report warned that the economic cost of underachievement in school “leaves many countries in what amounts to a permanent state of economic recession – one that can be larger and deeper than the one that resulted from the financial crisis” (cited on the Guardian website 13/05/15).

The Guardian report also warns that pupils in coastal or mining towns are vulnerable to a generational cycle of unemployment and underachievement.

The full Guardian report can be found here.

Helen Robinson