Original URL: http://www.theregister.co.uk/2007/11/30/sci_poll/

British teens score a C in international science poll

Kids ask 'what's a C?'

By Joe Fay

Posted in Science, 30th November 2007 12:22 GMT

British kids have plummeted down an international league of science tests, research from the Organisation for Economic Development (OECD) shows.

However, the nation's youth probably won't be too upset about their unboffinish performance – it's not like they'd be able to read about it after all.

The OECD PISA test of 15-year-olds worldwide says UK kids pull in an average of 515 points, putting them in 14th place. They were trounced by top scorer Finland with 563. Hong Kong came in second with 542, Canada had third with 534, while Chinese Taipei pulled in 532.

In previous tests the UK had scored as high as fourth place, though the OECD points out that comparisons are not strictly valid.

The UK's placing looks slightly less traumatic when you look at who came in lower. Just under the UK were the Czech Republic and Switzerland, with 513 and 512, respectively.

More embarrassingly, industrial technological powerhouse the United States came in 29th place with 489 points, sandwiched between Latvia (490) and the Slovak Republic (488). Which probably explains why the world's brain drain tends to run in one direction.

The middling performance by Britain's boffins of the future will spark yet more soul searching by sections of the establishment, as it bemoans lack of interest in science courses at university.

Other parts of the establishment will then point out that the UK's strength is in its trading heritage and restate the role of financial services and the City. And then someone will ask "haven't you read the papers recently"?” ®