Press release

11 December 2012

Teachers in England are among the most confident in the world, surveys show

Analysis of two major international surveys of pupil achievement by the National Foundation for Educational Research (NFER) for the Department for Education shows that we are building current education developments in England from a strong foundation, with TIMSS showing the majority of pupils have teachers who report feeling confident to teach their subject, and schools placing a strong emphasis on academic achievement – among the highest of participating countries.

Data from the 2011 Trends in International Mathematics and Science Study (TIMSS) and Progress in International Reading Literacy Study (PIRLS) reveals teacher satisfaction in England is also among the highest in the world, with teachers reporting levels of career satisfaction similar to, or higher than, those of teachers in the highest achieving countries and rating their working conditions positively.

In terms of student attitudes, looking beyond the headline figures, pupil attitudes in England to science and maths compare favourably to European comparators, according to NFER, and are higher than top achievers in Pacific Rim countries such as Korea and Hong Kong. For example, at Year 9, over 64% of learners in England enjoy learning maths, compared to only 46% in Finland or Korea, and two-thirds of England’s pupils in PIRLS are motivated to read. Over half of the pupils in PIRLS in England reported reading for at least half an hour every day out of school, and pupils were more positive about reading than in 2006.

Dr Newman Burdett, Head of Centre for International Comparisons at NFER, said: “When we look at the results of international surveys such as TIMSS and PIRLS, it is important to remember that they are about more than just rankings – the data also helps us interpret the complex picture of education in England and helps guide effective policy, especially important when we are facing a period of exciting educational reform and global challenge.

“NFER’s expertise in handling data of this volume and complexity, as well as our close relationship with and understanding of schools, means we are perfectly placed to offer deeper insights into what the results from these surveys mean for pupils and practitioners – and what those results tell us, among other things, is that England has a world class education system but that we cannot afford to be complacent.”

The full national reports for TIMSS and PIRLS can be found at /timss and /pirls


Contact information:
Sarah Fleming, NFER Media & Communications Officer: 01753 637155;
Jane Parrack, NFER Marketing & Communications Manager: 01753 637245;

Note to editors:
TIMSS 2011 is the fifth in the IEA ’s series of comparative international surveys on maths and science achievement. It has been administered on a four-yearly cycle since 1995. England has taken part in all cycles, allowing comparisons over time of mathematics and science achievement among its Year 5 and Year 9 pupils (9-10 and 13-14 year old respectively).
PIRLS 2011 is the third in the IEA’s series of comparative international surveys of reading achievement of fourth grade (Year 5 in England) pupils. It is administered on a five-yearly cycle, and was first run in 2001.

About NFER
The NFER is the UK’s largest independent provider of research, assessment and information services for education, training and children’s services.