Irish 10-year-olds top the European league at reading
Irish 10-year-olds are the best in Europe at reading, according to the biggest international test on pupil achievement.
The reading skills of the country's fourth-class pupils improved dramatically over a five-year period.
The results show the overall score for Irish pupils in traditional reading jumped by 15 points since 2011 - and they also excelled in a new online assessment.
The Progress in International Reading Literacy Study (PIRLS) is based on findings from 340,000 pupils in 50 countries.
The study, the largest global assessment of reading ability among primary-aged pupils, was conducted in 2016.
The 4,881 Irish 10-year-olds showed improvements right across the board, from the weakest readers to the top achievers.
PIRLS included a separate assessment in online reading, known as ePIRLS, in which 14 countries participated. The Irish came out top in Europe and only Singapore and Russia were significantly better.
Key findings from the main PIRLS assessment show that no country in Europe is better than Ireland for reading skills at primary level.
Ireland's score of 567 was the highest in Europe, although we were deemed to be in a 'dead heat' with Finland, Poland and Northern Ireland, which tied at 566. The only countries significantly ahead were Russia (581) and Singapore (576).
Education Minister Richard Bruton described the results as "fantastic".
Irish National Teachers Organisation general secretary Sheila Nunan attributed the results to the professional work of high-quality primary teachers and warned that the current teacher shortages represented a risk to the future outcomes of our education system.