Heather is a doctoral researcher at the University of Oxford, specialising in international assessments and language differences in reading assessment. Her research utilises advanced quantitative techniques to explore the validity and fairness of the Progress in International Reading Literacy Study (PIRLS) for South Africa’s diverse linguistic context. With seven years of teaching experience as well as a background in educational research, Heather has developed a deep understanding of educational systems and an ability to translate complex assessment data into actionable insights for improving education policy and practice both in South Africa and internationally.

After completing her MA in Applied Linguistics at the University of Johannesburg and PGCE, Heather taught in Johannesburg primary schools. Since coming to Oxford, she has been involved in collaborative efforts applying analysis techniques from psychometrics and linguistics to compare item difficulty across PIRLS language versions. She is a member of the OUCEA research teams focused on large-scale assessments such as PIRLS and the International Baccalaureate exams and the PISA research team. Her goal is applying diverse research skills to improve the quality and fairness of assessments within multilingual educational contexts.



Stiff, J., Lenkeit, J., Hopfenbeck, T. N., Kayton, H. L., & McGrane, J. A. (2023). Research engagement in the Progress in International Reading Literacy Study: A systematic review. Educational Research Review, 40(1).

Kayton, H. L., McGrane, J. A., (2022). PIRLS 2021 Encyclopedia – England. International Association for the Evaluation of Educational Achievement.

Lindorff, A., Stiff, J. & Kayton, H. L. (2023). PIRLS 2021: National Report for England. Department for Education

McGrane, J., Kayton, H. L., Double, K., Woore, R., & El Masri, Y. (2021). Is Science Lost in Translation? Language Effects in the International Baccalaureate Diploma Programme Science Assessments. Oxford University Centre for Educational Assessment.



Victoria Murphy and Yasmine El Masri