Primary school pupils have significantly improved their performance in English reading and mathematics for the first time in 30 years.

Minister for Education Jan O'Sullivan has launched a study on the performance of over 8,000 pupils in 150 primary schools which was carried out in May 2014.

The study carried out by the Educational Research Centre found that reading and maths improved significantly since the last assessment in 2009.

The National Assessments of English Reading and Mathematics have been conducted on second and sixth class pupils approximately every five years since 1972.

The 2014 study found that there were small gender differences observed in second class with girls outperforming boys on English reading and boys doing better on mathematics.

Gerry Shiel, one of the report's authors, said that "the results suggest that considerable improvement has been made in both reading and mathematics since 2009, in schools in general and in DEIS schools in particular".

Ms O'Sullivan said today's results show that the national literacy and numeracy targets set for 2020 have been met.

But she cautioned against complacency saying the results leave scope for improvements especially in maths and in DEIS schools.

DEIS band 1 schools showed a significant increase in English reading at second class and smaller increases in maths in second and sixth class.

Band 2 schools had a significant increase in overall reading and in maths at second class.

There were smaller improvements in sixth class performances.

The Irish National Teachers’ Organisation welcomed the findings of the study, saying that the improvement in reading and maths among primary school pupils is a reflection on the work of primary teachers.

The union said that the results were achieved despite "significant cuts to the education budget in recent years".