We should remember that all this chat about international tables in education is part of their agenda and problem to do with the imperative of capitalism to compete internationally. So 'competition' between schools and between countries is simply yoking children in classrooms to capitalist logic. They call this 'realism' but we also know that the 'realism' of capitalism is built-in, inevitable financial crisis, inequality, slump, unemployment, slave wages, poverty and war.
So this is what they yoke children in classrooms to with this talk of international tables and Britain's position on them. Linked to this is also the blame culture: that is, Britain's own performance within capitalism as a whole goes up and down according to decisions made by politicians and big business e.g. in the decision to shift the emphasis of British capitalism away from manufacture to even more shuffling of money round the globe and flogging insurance, dodgy shares in futures etc etc (i.e. finance capital).
So we get all this bullshit about which micro-position English children are at - according to highly narrow-based tests, conducted as they are on different kinds of sample. But the effect of the talk about the tables is to inflict blame on schools, teachers and children for what are really questions of how English capitalism is run.
The times tables saga is just another chapter in this blame-schools-for-the-failure-of-English-capitalism routine.