PISA results reveal students in the UK have higher than average levels of maths, reading and science

Tuesday, December 5, 2023

Category: News

Girl studying maths

A series of newly released reports have revealed today that students in the UK score above the international average in mathematics, reading and science.

The Programme for International Student Assessment (PISA) assesses the knowledge and skills in mathematics, reading and science of 15-year-old students in countries around the world and results from the 2022 round have today been revealed. PISA is run internationally by the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD), and delivered in England, Wales and Northern Ireland by Pearson with scores  analysed by the Oxford University Centre for Educational Assessment (OUCEA) at the University of Oxford’s Department of Education.

The University of Oxford Department of Education-led report shows that scores in maths, reading and science in the UK remain above the international average. Across the 81 education systems measured by the OECD globally, science scores remained similar to 2018, but scores in mathematics and reading dropped. This was reflected in the results of England and Northern Ireland, with science scores staying stable, and mathematics and reading scores declining. In Wales, average scores in all three subjects dropped from 2018.

Professor Jenni Ingram, Professor of Mathematics Education at the University of Oxford’s Department of Education, said: “We’re delighted to have been chosen to analyse these vital scores, working closely with Pearson. Having a benchmark to see how students in the UK are doing compared to the rest of the world helps us to see how our education systems are working. It’s great that we remain above average in the UK in a number of areas. Using these results, we can see where the relative strengths and areas for development are in students’ performance and seek to have an impact on policy and practice for improvement.”

Professor Grace Grima, Director of Research at Pearson, said: “Thank you to all the students and schools who took part in PISA 2022. It’s a credit to teachers and support staff across England that PISA scores in maths, reading and science in England remain above the international average.”

“We’re proud to have contributed our considerable experience in education towards the successful completion of PISA 2022, alongside Oxford University. Our operational know-how and high-quality delivery – from large international projects also including PIRLS and TIMSS – has been the perfect partnership with Oxford’s internationally-renowned research expertise.”

As with previous PISA cycles, the highest performing education systems worldwide tended to be in East Asia, with Singapore significantly outperforming all other education systems in all subjects. Japan, Taiwan, Macao and South Korea were also among the top performing systems for all three subject domains.

Gender differences in PISA 2022 were consistent across the nations of the UK, with boys having a higher average score for mathematics and girls having a higher average score for reading.

Students from relatively disadvantaged socio-economic backgrounds performed significantly worse than those from relatively less disadvantaged backgrounds across all three subjects and UK nations, in line with international trends. The gap in performance between students from the most and least disadvantaged backgrounds was smaller in Wales than it was on average across OECD countries for all subjects. This was also true of Northern Ireland for mathematics and reading.

The full reports for England, Northern Ireland and Wales can be found on the following websites: Department for Education (England), Department of Education (Northern Ireland), Welsh Government (Wales) in English and Cymraeg.