Leighton Andrews, Minister for Education and Skills
My priority is to raise the standard of education and improve outcomes for young people in Wales. Improvements in levels of literacy and numeracy, and reducing the impact of deprivation on educational attainment are central to this aim. The National Literacy and Numeracy Framework (LNF) sets clear national expectations for the teaching of literacy and numeracy and will be a critically important driver of improvement.
The LNF will help all schools to embed literacy and numeracy across all subjects in the curriculum and will support all teachers to become teachers of literacy and numeracy. The LNF will be a statutory curriculum requirement for pupils from Reception to Year 9, from September 2013.
Alongside the LNF the reading and numeracy tests for pupils in Year 2 to Year 9 will provide further evidence of pupils’ level of attainment in addition to teacher assessments.
Consultation on both the LNF and Reading and Numeracy Tests ran from 11 June to 12 October 2012 and I am delighted to have received 160 written responses from a variety of stakeholders. I am also pleased that consultation events were very well attended, with around 300 participants across Wales. I am very grateful to teachers, schools, individuals and organisations from across Wales for their contribution to this process - it demonstrates our shared commitment to raising standards of literacy and numeracy.
Several key themes emerged from the consultation responses:
- Respondents felt that the expectations in the LNF are set correctly and the right skills are being emphasised. The expectations are felt to be challenging and time is needed to meet these expectations;
- It was felt that the language in the framework is sufficiently precise, though non English, Welsh or Maths teachers may have some difficulty in understanding the terminology;
- Respondents generally agreed that Welsh-medium schools should use both the Welsh and English literacy framework from year 4 onwards, though some respondents felt it should not be a statutory requirement;
- Respondents emphasised the need for support and guidance to schools to assist them in implementing the LNF and that in addition a template would be useful for recording and reporting assessments;
- There were divergent views on whether Routes for Learning should be the statutory basis for assessment for learners with more complex needs;
- Concerns were raised over the potential for increased workload and the fit with existing curriculum and assessment requirements.
The summary report will be published on the Learning Wales website in Spring 2013.
In the meantime, I wanted to provide an update on the steps we are taking to respond to the consultation.
Revisions to the LNF
Some aspects of the LNF have been revised in light of the very helpful consultation responses that we received, for example, the reading strand of the literacy component has been changed in response to concerns that the title “reading for information” might understate the importance of readers reading for pleasure. It now refers to “reading across the curriculum”. Also as a result of consultation feedback we have removed the term “farenheit” as it was felt that this was an outdated form of measurement and in both literacy and numeracy frameworks there have been extension columns added to the LNF to stretch higher achievers.
The final version of the LNF will be available on Learning Wales from January 2013, in advance of statutory implementation in September 2013.
In the consultation we asked for views on the use of the English component of the LNF in Welsh-medium primary schools. Most respondents agreed with the principle that the English LNF should only be a statutory requirement and be assessed from Year 4 onwards. We have therefore decided that in reception to Year 3 inclusive, Welsh-medium schools should only be required to use the Welsh literacy component of the LNF (alongside numeracy). From Year 4 onwards we expect Welsh-medium schools to use both the English and Welsh components. Schools can of course also use the English component in Reception and Years 1–3 if they wish to.
Training and Support – New National Support Programme
A suite of on-line bilingual guidance and training materials are currently being developed to help schools implement the LNF before the framework becomes statutory in September 2013. The first of these materials, the curriculum planning guidance and training workshops will be published in January 2013, followed by Classroom Practice materials in September 2013 to coincide with statutory implementation.
In addition I am pleased to announce that we are investing over £6m in a new National Support Programme that will be put in place to offer direct support to schools and teachers to help them effectively implement the LNF and to bring about improvements in the way that literacy and numeracy is taught in schools. The programme will begin in January 2013
Assessment against the LNF
The LNF is first and foremost a curriculum planning tool. However, it also provides a means for schools to assess pupil progress and report to parents. In the consultation we proposed that the LNF should be used to support formative assessment and assessment for learning.
A key theme emerging from the consultation responses has been the importance of schools embedding the LNF in their curriculum planning and for this in turn to lead to changes in teaching and learning. It is changes in teaching and learning that will ultimately raise standards. While respondents generally agreed that assessments should be made in relation to pupil’s progress against the expectations in the LNF, concern was expressed about how this requirement would sit alongside existing assessment requirements. There were also concerns raised about the potential workload implications. I have therefore decided to adopt a phased approach to the requirement to undertake assessments against the LNF. The LNF will be a statutory curriculum requirement from September 2013 and assessment against the LNF will become a statutory requirement from September 2014. This means that schools will have a full academic year to focus on embedding the LNF into their curriculum planning and their teaching and learning before being required to assess pupils progress against it.
On 1 October I announced a review of the curriculum and assessment arrangements in Wales, in particular to ensure that the LNF, tests and wider assessment arrangements which operate in schools all form part of a coherent whole. The phased approach to the implementation of the assessment requirements of the LNF will also allow me to consider the conclusions of this review.
Schools should still use the LNF to support assessment for learning and reports to parents on their child’s progress in literacy and numeracy will still be required on an annual basis from September 2013. These requirements will entail schools including in the reports that they give to the parents of each pupil information based on the numeracy and reading tests and a narrative report on literacy and numeracy based on the LNF. Governing bodies will also be expected to include, in their annual report to parents, information on the school’s performance in literacy and numeracy based on the reading and numeracy tests and in relation to the LNF.
I will provide a separate update to Assembly Members on progress in implementing the National Reading and Numeracy tests and our response to the consultation.