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News story

PISA 2018 England report release

10 Dec 2019

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The latest PISA results have now been released. Published by the OECD, they look at the reading skills of around 600,000 15-year-olds from 79 countries across the world. Key findings on reading include:

Reading attainment

  • The mean reading score in England has remained consistent since 2006, and is above the OECD average, as it was in PISA 2015
  • The attainment gap between England’s high and low achieving pupils in 2018 was similar to the OECD average
  • Pupils in England showed relative strengths in the reading skills of ‘locating information’ and ‘evaluating and reflecting’ but were less strong in ‘understanding’


  • In common with all other participating countries, girls in England outperformed boys in reading. However, the gender gap in England was significantly smaller than the average gap across the OECD

Socio-economics and ethnicity

  • In common with all other countries, pupils from the most advantaged backgrounds in England had higher reading achievement than those from less socio-economically advantaged homes. Socio-economic status is likely to be an explanatory factor for differences in the below two points:
    • Pupils whose ethnicity was Mixed or White achieved, on average, higher mean reading scores than pupils from other ethnic groups, and significantly outperformed Asian and Black pupils
    • Pupils who spoke a language other than English at home also scored significantly less well in reading than pupils who spoke English at home

Reading attitudes

  • Pupils in England were more confident in their reading ability than the OECD average, with a higher percentage agreeing with the statements that they were good readers and could understand difficult texts
  • Pupils in England had less engaged attitudes towards reading than pupils across the OECD. In general, pupils in England and the OECD had more negative attitudes than in 2009, but the change in attitudes of pupils in England was greater than on average in OECD countries
  • They did, however, have more negative attitudes towards reading, with a lower proportion agreeing that reading was a favourite hobby and that they liked talking about books


  • Pupils reported reading online materials far more frequently than printed materials, in both England and the OECD. The most popular reading activity was chatting online, a frequent activity for 92% and 88% of pupils in England and the OECD respectively

Pupil wellbeing

  • Pupils’ attitudes and wellbeing Pupils in England were, on average, less satisfied with their lives than pupils across the OECD countries. They were also more likely to feel miserable and worried and less likely to agree that their life has a clear meaning
  • They were much less likely to always feel joyful and cheerful, and were more likely to sometimes or always feel worried, miserable, and sad than pupils across the OECD.


  • In comparison with the OECD average, pupils in England had similar expectations of their highest level of qualification, but were more likely to expect to have a professional job in the future
Download the full report
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