Let's hear it for primary maths

8th September 2006 at 01:00
It is interesting that your report on the 2003 PISA results for secondary schools should make front-page news (TES, August 18) while no fuss was made of the primary maths results in the equally important 2003 TIMSS report.

Let me remind you of some of this good news:

* In 1995, England scored 484 scale points - 16 points below the international average - and ranked 17th out of 26 countries. In 2003, England scored 531 scale points - 36 scale points above the international average - and ranked 10th out of 25 countries.

* Only six of the participating countries scored significantly higher than England - the four Pacific Rim countries, Belgium and the Netherlands - and four (including Hungary) scored at a similar level. The 14 that performed significantly worse included Scotland (one point ahead of England in 1995), the USA, Australia, New Zealand and Italy.

* In 1995, England had significantly lower scores than more than half of the participating countries (14). In 2003, we had lower scores than less than a quarter of them (six).

* England's increased score of 47 points was the largest of any country.

Surely results like these were worth celebrating, but I am aware that "bad news" is considered to make better reading than "good news".

Professor Ian Thompson

Millfield Road, Riding Mill, Northumberland

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