PIRLS 2016 further analysis: Urban and rural schools in Northern Ireland

Rachel Buzinin and Ben Durbin

18 November 2020

This additional analysis of the Progress in International Reading Literacy Study (PIRLS) 2016 assessment considers evidence on the characteristics and performance of urban and rural primary schools in Northern Ireland to examine whether there are particular factors or configurations associated with schools in these areas that have an impact on pupil outcomes. A considerable amount of literature has been published on rural educational disadvantage which highlights the distinct challenges that rural schools can face compared with urban schools. 

Key Findings

  • On average, pupils in rural schools performed significantly better than those in urban schools in PIRLS 2016.
  • Northern Ireland compared favourably overall to other countries on factors related to the school safety and climate.
  • Northern Ireland’s disadvantaged schools achieved similar or higher average results than those in England and the Republic of Ireland (and Northern Ireland’s high disadvantage rural schools did particularly well).

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