Key insights from PIRLS 2016 Northern Ireland – What the evidence shows


18 November 2020

International large scale assessment (ILSA) studies are designed to provide evidence to inform policy decisions by providing a reliable, independent measure of the effectiveness of a country’s education system in a global context.

This key insights briefing summarises three recent reports that use information from the PIRLS 2016 study in Northern Ireland, and other ILSA data to explore the following areas:

  1. What can Northern Ireland learn from participation in international studies?
  2. Differences between urban and rural schools in Northern Ireland
  3. Parental engagement in their children’s learning in Northern Ireland

Key Findings

  • Over time, the number of countries outperforming Northern Ireland in reading at post-primary has reduced and a higher proportion of pupils are working at the highest levels in primary maths. This evidence of gradual improvement suggests that the Count, Read: Succeed strategy has been successful in delivering and sustaining positive outcomes for learners.
  • On average, pupils in rural schools performed significantly better than those in urban schools in PIRLS 2016.
  • The types of early literacy activities which were most strongly related to later reading outcomes were those relating to talking, reading together and discussing, rather than those which replicate later academic activities, such as word games and alphabet games.

For more information about the PIRLS study, please visit the Department of Education website.

Sponsor Details

Department of Education Northern Ireland