Performance in TIMSS 2015 of disadvantaged pupils in Northern Ireland

Jenny Bradshaw, Joana Andrade, Giulia De Lazzari

25 January 2018

Research report on the Department of Education website

This study uses data from the 2015 cycle of the Trends in International Mathematics and Science Study (TIMSS) to investigate the role socioeconomic status plays in the education of 9-10 year olds in Northern Ireland. By using information on home resources and parents’ backgrounds we construct a new index of socioeconomic status that goes beyond the standard analysis usually possible from TIMSS data.

Key Findings

  • There is a strong association between pupils’ socioeconomic status and their attainment in maths and science.
  • This association is stronger than in other countries and it appears to be increasing.
  • Attainment in mathematics has increased among the most advantaged groups but not among the least advantaged.
  • Early learning education up to the age of three shows a positive association with TIMSS scores, and higher socioeconomic groups have much higher levels of participation in early learning.
  • Participation in pre-primary education is also associated with higher scores but is more universal, with no difference in participation among socioeconomic groups.
  • Extra mathematics tuition is associated with higher mathematics scores. Those in the highest socioeconomic group are twice as likely to have extra tuition as those in the lowest.