What relevance do international assessments have for understanding England's education system?

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Tuesday May 8, 2018

09.00 - 17.00




  • Carole Willis, Chief Executive NFER


  • Dr Dirk Hastedt, Executive Director; IEA
  • Juliet Sizmur, Research Manager in the Centre for International Education; NFER
  • Dr Christian Bokhove, Associate Professor in Mathematics Education within Southampton Education School; University of Southampton
  • Cath Murray, Features Editor & Head of Digital for SchoolsWeek and FEWeek.

England has been participating in international large scale assessments for over 20 years. The best-known of these – PISA, PIRLS and TIMSS – focus on students’ achievement in reading, mathematics and science, but they are increasingly branching out into other outcome measures as well.

Run by the OECD and the IEA, but funded by national governments, these studies have had a significant influence over education policy in England and overseas. Each time new results are published there is much fanfare and interrogation of global league tables. There is also frequent commentary from detractors of the tests, academics or teachers who are concerned about the methodology or how the results are used.

However, amongst this maelstrom, there is rarely time to step back and consider what we can learn overall about the performance of England’s education system from across the studies. This panel discussion featured some of the key players in the system including the IEA, academics and policy makers. Together, they considered what the latest round of findings (from PISA 2015, TIMSS 2015 and PIRLS 2016) can tell us about education in England when placed in an international context.

 Key insights for England from PIRLS, TIMSS and PISA

 Slides from the event