Thursday, 7 March 2013

Questions (50)

Jonathan O'Brien


50. Deputy Jonathan O'Brien asked the Minister for Education and Skills his views on the finding of two studies (details supplied) which showed primary school children in the Six Counties came sixth in numeracy and fifth in literacy, the highest rating of any English speaking country in the world; his views on whether this success can be attributed to the 48% rise in per capita education funding in the North from 1997 and 2007; the lessons his Department can learn from this success; and his further views that similar measures should be implemented to improve standards in the 26 Counties. [11744/13]

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Written answers (Question to Education)

Pupils in Northern Ireland performed very well in PIRLS and TIMSS. The report was published last December. Further study will be needed to establish the reasons for this, and I look forward to the future publication of further analyses. It is notable that Northern Ireland was developing and implementing elements of its Literacy and Numeracy Strategy for some time prior to the development of our own strategy here in the Republic. I wish to acknowledge that Irish 4th class pupils also performed well in tests of reading, mathematics and science. In all three areas, Irish pupils scored significantly above the international average. Many of the elements of our own Literacy and Numeracy Strategy – improving teacher education, reform of the curriculum and better use of assessment – are similar to those in Northern Ireland. This range of measures as they are implemented should enable improvements in our reading and maths standards. We have, I believe, made a good start.