A positive press: what does TIMSS tell us that English schools do well?

UCL IOE led the research and analysis for TIMSS 2019 and is doing so again for TIMSS 2023. Reflecting on TIMSS 2019 raised the question, ‘What do our primary and secondary schools do well, in relation to mathematics and science?’ Answers allow us to value what our young people achieve, and the professional and other support they have in achieving it. A key question for 2023 will of course be, ‘To what extent have schools maintained and perhaps extended what they do well, through the last four years that have included the pandemic?’

The TIMSS 2019 National Report shows that young people in England performed, on average, significantly1 above the TIMSS centre point (500) in mathematics and science in both years 5 and 9, and across almost all content areas. In mathematics, both year groups were good at handling data, an area that is ever-more important in our data-saturated world. 2019 performance in year 5 mathematics improved significantly from all previous cycles. In mathematics, many more students hit the advanced, high and intermediate international benchmarks and performed well when compared to both other English- speaking countries, and those in a representative ‘comparator’ group of other European countries.