Press Release

Committee Praises Hard-Working Primary School Teachers and Pupils

Session: 2012/2013

Date: Wednesday, 12 December 2012

Reference: EDUC 04/12/13

The Northern Ireland Assembly Committee for Education today welcomed the initial results of the Trends in International Maths and Science Study (TIMSS) and Progress in International Reading Literacy Study (PIRLS).  These prestigious studies show that Northern Ireland’s 9 and 10 year olds out-perform international competitor countries like the USA in both literacy and numeracy, and are above the international average in science.

Committee Chairperson, Mervyn Storey MLA, said: “I am pleased that the Department took the Committee’s advice and participated in the TIMSS and PIRLS studies.  These show in unequivocal terms that our primary school teachers are generally doing a first-rate job – educating our children to a standard which is at least above the international average. In fact, the results for mathematics show that Northern Ireland is hard on the heels of leading countries like Hong Kong and Singapore.

“The Committee wants to congratulate our primary schools, the dedicated principals and teachers, and of course, the hard-working children.  Their level of attainment is a testament to their diligence and indicates, I believe, a bright future for all of our children.”

The Chairperson concluded: “These highly regarded international benchmark studies are a useful context for the reviews of Key Stage 4 and A-level examinations which are on-going in a number of jurisdictions. In terms of the way forward, the Committee will want to review the findings much more closely.  We will want to know for example why attainment at 9-10 years of age does not always translate into success at GCSE and A-level particularly for children from deprived backgrounds.”


Notes to Editors:

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 at ages 9-10.

2011 was the first year in which the cycles of the two studies coincided, allowing the opportunity to assess the same pupils at ages 9-10 in all three subject domains. 2011 was the first time that the local education system took part in PIRLS and TIMSS.

Committee Membership:

Chairperson: Mervyn Storey MLA
Deputy Chairperson: Danny Kinahan MLA
Michaela Boyle MLA
Jonathan Craig MLA
Jo-Anne Dobson MLA
Brenda Hale MLA
Chris Hazzard MLA
Trevor Lunn MLA
Michelle McIlveen MLA
Sean Rogers MLA
Pat Sheehan MLA

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