English education

World class in primary?

By Natalie Perera; Peter Sellen

This report by the Education Policy Institute, in partnership with UCL Institute of Education (IOE), examines how well primary school pupils in England are performing compared to those in top performing nations – with the findings represented, for the very first time, in English measures of attainment. ‘English Education: World Class in Primary?’ converts countries’ results from the international Trends in Mathematics and Science Study (TIMSS) into equivalent English Key Stage 2 (KS2) assessment results, producing an estimate of where England stands in the world in primary education.

Our analysis shows that England has one of the largest gaps between its high and low performers out of all developed nations. England’s top performing maths pupils achieve a very high standard, but the bottom performers lag far behind. If England is to be considered world class at primary in maths, the performance of pupils at the bottom must be improved. Examining overall performance, the report also finds that England compares well with other developed nations at primary level maths – but trails behind the top performing nations. To match the performance of the top-performing nations, the report estimates that 90 per cent of pupils would need to meet the government’s expected standard in Key Stage 2 maths by the end of primary school. In 2016, only 75 per cent of pupils met this standard.

Read the full report