NI pupils' high levels of literacy, numeracy


The attainment of pupils in Northern Irish primary schools in reading and numeracy is higher than in any other English-speaking country in the world, according to an international report published yesterday.

Children finished fifth in a country survey of reading ability and sixth in mathematics. Those in P6 (the equivalent of fourth class in the Republic) were ranked by their achievements in literacy, mathematics and science.

The findings were contained in two major studies released yesterday. The Progress in International Reading Literacy Study is a comparison study of reading achievement at ages nine to 10, and the Trends in International Mathematics and Science Study is a parallel study of maths and science.

Last year was the first time the North took part in the studies. Key findings include:

Northern Irish pupils were ranked fifth out of 45 participating countries in reading, significantly outperforming pupils in 36 other countries. The region was the highest-ranking English-speaking country.

Northern Irish pupils were ranked sixth out of the 50 countries that participated in the maths study, significantly outperforming pupils in 44 other countries. The North was the highest-performing English-speaking country in maths.

The average score in science was lower than for reading and maths, although still significantly above the international average. Northern Irish pupils outperformed peers in 23 other countries and were eclipsed by pupils in 17 countries in science.

Pupils in Northern Ireland were more likely (84 per cent) to be taught by teachers who rated their working conditions relatively highly compared to the international average (73 per cent).

Northern Ireland had one of the highest levels of computer provision, with more than three-quarters of pupils taught in schools where one was available for every one to two pupils.

It also had the highest proportion of schools considered safe and orderly and one of the highest levels for discipline and safety. – (PA)