By Claire West

Commenting on the OECD report Education at a Glance, Christine Blower, General Secretary of the National Union of Teachers, the largest teachers' union said;

"For all the recent question marks and doubts raised over the value of further education the latest OECD report paints a very clear picture - invest in education or pay the price.

"Low levels of education cost both the state and society dearly. This is equally, if not more, relevant in times of recession. It would be short sighted and irresponsible of the Government to try and use budget deficits as an argument for cutting further education funding.

"The report shows England has a relatively low proportion of time allocated to modern foreign languages compared with other OECD countries. This was reflected in this year's GCSE and A level results. I urge the Government to come up with a coherent policy to ensure that all young people acquire at least one modern foreign language.

"Yet again we have evidence that teachers are paid less than similar professions. If this worsens, the impact on recruitment and retention will have a detrimental effect on the education system. The Government needs to ensure that teachers pay does not fall further behind other professions.

"Michael Gove has no choice but to argue that funding for education has to remain a high priority for both individuals and the country as a whole. Becoming a graduate still makes financial sense for everyone".

Minister for Universities and Science David Willetts said:

"The OECD report shows that our Higher Education faces some real challenges, which the Government is determined to tackle. We have already taken action to boost student numbers by funding an extra 10,000 places and more people than ever are starting university this autumn.

“Going to university is still a good investment. Graduates are more likely to be in work than non graduates and can expect to earn more over their lifetime.

“We are working to provide more educational opportunities for all ages to ensure that we have highly skilled, internationally competitive workforce. We have provided funding for an extra 50,000 apprenticeships."