Belfast Telegraph

Thursday 10 July 2014

Primary school attainment lauded

A global survey has ranked Northern Ireland's primary school children as the fifth best at reading in the world

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

Children finished fifth in a country survey of reading ability and sixth in mathematics, it was revealed. Those in Primary 6 were ranked by their achievements in literacy, mathematics and science.

Education minister John O'Dowd said: "It is clear that the characteristics of a good school are being embedded in our system: good teaching and good leadership with strong community engagement and a clear focus on the needs of the pupil.

"It is also clear that the policies we have been implementing in recent years are working and that our young people are reaping the benefits."

Findings from two major studies were released. Pirls (Progress in International Reading Literacy Study) is an international comparison study of reading achievement at ages 9-10 and Timss (Trends in International Mathematics and Science Study) is a parallel study of mathematics and science.

The year 2011 was the first time the local education system took part in Pirls and Timss.

Northern Ireland had one of the highest levels of computer provision among all participating countries, with over three-quarters of pupils taught in schools where one was available for every one to two pupils. The region also had the highest proportion of schools considered safe and orderly and one of the highest levels for discipline and safety.

A higher proportion of children (30%) in Northern Ireland reported having many resources for learning at home compared with the average internationally (17%). Pupils with access to more home resources had higher average achievement in reading, mathematics and science.

The proportion of pupils whose teachers reported lack of sleep as a limiting factor was greater in Northern Ireland than the international average in all three subjects.

Pupils whose teachers reported that their lack of basic nutrition and lack of sufficient sleep limited teaching had lower average achievement than those whose teachers reported not having these limitations.

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