News story

Progress in International Reading Literacy Study (PIRLS) 2016

Schools across England will take part in a study to help measure our progress in reading.


Schools across England are set to take part in an international literacy study.

The Progress in International Reading Literacy Study (PIRLS) measures the reading ability of 10-year-olds, which can then be compared with other countries. The study is run by the International Association for the Evaluation of Educational Achievement (IEA) on a 5-yearly cycle. The next round of the study takes place later this year and will be delivered through Pearson Education and Oxford University in England.

A randomised sample of 170 schools from across England have been selected to take part, and will have been contacted by the PIRLS recruitment team. Teachers and pupils do not need to prepare for the test.

Children with strong reading skills are more likely to succeed at school, achieve good qualifications, find a rewarding and enjoyable career - and even enjoy good health. The Secretary of State for Education recently announced a new literacy campaign aiming to make children in England the best in Europe at reading by 2020. In the Progress in International Reading Literacy Study (PIRLS) 2011, England ranked eleventh out of 45.

Thanks to the time and effort of teachers and pupils, not only will PIRLS 2016 enable us to see whether we are on track to become the best in Europe by 2020, it will also give us important information that we can use to improve policies on teacher training, techniques for teaching reading, the national curriculum, and much more. PIRLS allows us to share what we do well, learn from other countries where we need to, and gain a better understanding of what affects and influences reading in 10-year-olds, including teaching style, school climate, home life, and access to books and computers. A summary of key findings from the 2011 study is available.

More than 4,000 pupils in England will take part in PIRLS tests between May and June 2016, and the results will be published in 2017. You can find more information about PIRLS 2016 on the IEA website or the OUCEA website.

(News story updated 24 November 2017, to correct the ranking of England from sixth to eleventh in PIRLS 2011)

Published 29 January 2016
Last updated 24 November 2017 + show all updates
  1. Corrected the ranking of England from sixth to eleventh in PIRLS 2011 rankings.
  2. First published.