Which countries are the best for children’s reading ability? England ranked fourth in new data

New statistics showed England ranks fourth for children’s reading  (Pexels)
New statistics showed England ranks fourth for children’s reading (Pexels)

Schoolchildren in England are in the top five in the world at reading, new stats have shown.

Primary pupils have ranked in at fourth in international rankings for literacy skills in results announced today by the UK Government.

The Progress in International Reading Literacy Study - known as Pirls - saw England’s rank jump from eighth to enter the top four.

The tests internationally are looked at every five years and place countries in a global education league table.

Children aged nine and ten, normally Year 5 pupils in England, are tested at the end of the school year.

In the latest round of tests - in 2021 - a massive 400,000 pupils across 57 countries were assessed. But in this round of league tables a total of 14 countries delayed testing until the start of the 2022 school years because of the Covid pandemic, meaning they were not included in the rankings table as the children were deemed older than others in the study.

The International Association for the Evaluation of Educational Achievement (IEA), which runs the study, decided to include England in the table - even though it pushed back testing until 2022 to avoid that disruption - because it tested the same age group as the other countries.

Schools minister Nick Gibb said England’s success was aided by government reforms, including a focus on phonics, which teaches children to read using sounds, and to teachers “putting reading at the heart of everything they do”.

Geoff Barton, general secretary of the Association of School and College Leaders (ASCL), said the “excellent results” were “a badly needed piece of good news for an education system that feels beleaguered”.

He said the success was testament to the “hard work, skill and dedication of primary school teachers and leaders”.

The best countries for children’s reading

Here are the top ten and the scores for each country:

1. Singapore

Average score: 587

2. Hong Kong

Average score: 573

3. Russia

Average score: 567

4. England

Average score: 558

The stats also showed that in England, there is still a gender gap, with girls outperforming boys, although it was by a lower margin this year.

5. Finland

Average score: 549

6. Poland

Average score: 549

7. Chinese Taipei

Average score: 544

8. Sweden

Average score: 544

9. Australia

Average score: 540

10. Bulgaria

Average score: 540