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Primary school pupils score above average in international literacy, maths and science tests

IRISH primary school students have scored above average in major international tests of literacy, mathematics and science – but didn’t make it into the top ranks.

There is disappointment particularly about the performance Irish primary pupils in science, to which Ireland devotes only about half the teaching time of the international average.

The Progress in International Reading Literacy Study (PIRLS 2011) and the Trends in International Mathematics and Science Study (TIMSS 2011) tested 10 year olds in over 60 countries.

The best scores for the Irish were in reading, where pupils were ranked 10th out of 45 participating countries.

Students in only five countries performed significantly better than the Irish: Hong Kong, Finland, Singapore, the Russian Federation and Northern Ireland.

Irish students scored significantly higher than students in 31 other countries, including Germany, Sweden, Australia and New Zealand.

In maths, Ireland was placed 17th out of 50 countries, and Irish students scored significantly below countries such as Singapore, Korea, Japan, Northern Ireland, Finland, England and the Unites States, and at about the same level as students in Germany, Lithuania and Portugal.

In science, Irish students were placed 22nd out of the 50 participating countries, scoring significantly below countries such as Korea, Singapore, Finland, Japan, the United States, Sweden and England.

However, Ireland’s score did not differ significantly from 10 countries including Italy, Northern Ireland and Australia.

Education Minister Ruairi Quinn said: “We cannot be complacent. In all three tests, pupils in a number of countries are performing significantly above the performance of Irish students.”