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

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A series of newly released reports have revealed today [5th December] 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 – available from 5 December, 10am), Department of Education (Northern Ireland), Welsh Government (Wales) in English and Cymraeg.

If you would like to know more about this press release, contact the Department of Education Communications Team on communications@education.ox.ac.uk. To contact Pearson, email media@pearson.com.

Notes to Editors
About the Department of Education

Oxford has been making a major contribution to the field of education for more than 100 years. Today, the Department of Education has a world-class reputation for research, for teacher education and for its Masters and doctoral programmes. Our aim is to continue to be a world-leader in cross-disciplinary education research that is closely connected with policy and practice.

We are a research-led Department, carrying out research which is of relevance not only to academics in the field of Education and related disciplines, but also to teachers, teacher educators, other education professionals, and policy makers. Our policy of developing both depth and breadth of research expertise remains central to successfully maintaining and enhancing our position as an internationally recognised centre of outstanding research. The 2021 Research Excellence Framework evaluation placed the department as the leader for education research in the United Kingdom.

Overall the Department is now one of the three largest centres in the UK for full-time postgraduate study in the field of education.

Find out more about us on our website: www.education.ox.ac.uk.

About the University of Oxford

Oxford University has been placed number 1 in the Times Higher Education World University Rankings for the seventh year running, and number 2 in the QS World Rankings 2022. At the heart of this success are the twin-pillars of our ground-breaking research and innovation and our distinctive educational offer.
 Oxford is world-famous for research and teaching excellence and home to some of the most talented people from across the globe. Our work helps the lives of millions, solving real-world problems through a huge network of partnerships and collaborations. The breadth and interdisciplinary nature of our research alongside our personalised approach to teaching sparks imaginative and inventive insights and solutions.
 Through its research commercialisation arm, Oxford University Innovation, Oxford is the highest university patent filer in the UK and is ranked first in the UK for university spinouts, having created more than 200 new companies since 1988. Over a third of these companies have been created in the past three years. The University is a catalyst for prosperity in Oxfordshire and the United Kingdom, contributing £15.7 billion to the UK economy in 2018/19, and supports more than 28,000 full time jobs.

About Pearson

At Pearson, our purpose is simple: to add life to a lifetime of learning. We believe that every learning opportunity is a chance for a personal breakthrough. That’s why our c. 20,000 Pearson employees are committed to creating vibrant and enriching learning experiences designed for real-life impact. We are the world’s leading learning company, serving customers in nearly 200 countries with digital content, assessments, qualifications, and data. For us, learning isn’t just what we do. It’s who we are. Visit us at pearsonplc.com