PISA study reveals UK is a “top performer” for science


The UK is one of only 7 OECD countries achieving the optimum balance of enjoyment, performance, attainment, understanding, aspiration, likelihood and expectation of a career in science.

New data published today (Tuesday 6 December) in the OECD Programme for International Student Assessment (PISA) 2015 report showed:

  • by age 15, students in the United Kingdom perform above the OECD average in science
  • UK boys and girls are equally likely to score at Level 5 or 6, the highest levels of proficiency, in science
  • quarter of UK students want to work in science
  • higher than average number of UK students have positive attitude towards science
  • there is no significant gender difference in the expectations of UK students overall, with girls continuing to lean towards medical and boys towards engineering professions

Yvonne Baker, Chief Executive of the National STEM Learning Network said:

“These positive headlines are the result of the hard work and dedication of teachers, support staff and STEM Ambassadors in schools, colleges, community organisations and STEM employers from across the UK. A coordinated approach to engaging young people in STEM subjects is beginning to pay off. We are ensuring teachers have the professional development they need, that resources are available, and that role models from industry can work with pupils to build their enthusiasm for the subject. Much more can be done and we are delighted that the government has announced further funding for Science Learning Partnerships.”

The government has today announced a £12.1million investment until 2019. The multimillion pound package will provide continued professional development for science teachers, support schools to share best practice and offer tailored in-school support. The programme will be delivered through a network of national Science Learning Partnerships and also support schools to encourage more teenagers to take GCSE triple science – physics, chemistry and biology.

School Standards Minister Nick Gibb said:

“We are determined to give all young people the world-class education they need to fulfil their potential. It is encouraging to see so many young people setting their ambitions high, as we know science is valued by employers and is linked to higher earnings. Studying science offers a wide range of options following school – whether that’s a career in medicine, engineering or teaching science in the classroom these are the vital skills needed for the future productivity and economic prosperity of this country. This extra funding will further support high quality science teaching in our schools.”

The PISA study is conducted every three years and tests 15-year-olds in science, mathematics and reading in over 70 participating countries. More than 5,000 teenagers were tested and surveyed in England and also asked about their learning experience and future aspirations.

Read the results in full below:

Programme for International Student Assessment (PISA) Results 2015