Achievement of 15-year-old pupils in Northern Ireland: PISA 2018 National report

Juliet Sizmur, Robert Ager, Jenny Bradshaw, Rachel Classick, Maria Galvis, Joanna Packer, David Thomas and Rebecca Wheater

03 December 2019

Download the report from the Department of Education website

The PISA 2018 national reports for England, Northern Ireland, Wales and Scotland are published today, 3 December 2019.

PISA 2018 was delivered in the UK by NFER on behalf of the Department for Education in England, the Scottish Government, the Welsh Government, and the Department of Education in Northern Ireland. The report for Scotland is written by the Scottish Government. Please contact the Scottish Government press office for more information.

PISA assesses the knowledge and skills of 15-year-olds in reading, maths and science and is developed jointly by member countries of the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD).

The PISA study has a three year cycle, focusing in turn on reading, maths and science. The main focus in PISA 2018 is reading, with some questions assessing mathematics and science,

In 2018 there was also a short attitudinal survey completed by pupils on wellbeing. These kind of surveys serve the purpose of providing a ‘red flag’ to note any issues that may require further investigation.

Key Findings

  • For the first time, pupils in Wales’ performance is similar to OECD average in reading, mathematics and science
  • In mathematics, both England and Wales show an improving trend across successive PISA cycles, while Scotland has declined, and Northern Ireland has remained broadly stable.
  • Since 2015, Scotland has significantly improved in reading, whilst England, Wales and Northern Ireland have remained stable.
  • In science there has been a decline in performance over successive cycles of PISA since 2006 in Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland, while England has remained stable.