Agenda Item No


The Vale of Glamorgan Council


Scrutiny Committee (Lifelong Learning): 23rd July 2012


Report of the Chief Executive


National Literacy and Numeracy Programmes


Purpose of the Report

1.             To up-date Members on the requirements of the National Literacy and Numeracy Programme for schools.


1.          That Members note the report and receive quarterly progress reports to consider and follow up activity required.

Reason for the Recommendation

1.          To develop shared understanding about the new framework and its possible impact on schools in the Vale of Glamorgan.


2.          In February 2011 the Minister for Education Leighton Andrews announced his 20 Point Improvement Plan for the education System in Wales.  He reinforced this plan in his keynote speech on 29th June 2011 and again in 2012.

3.          The 20 Point Plan is comprehensive and includes the need to improve standards in literacy and numeracy.

4.          The minister has since commissioned a team of Literacy and Numeracy Advisers from across Wales to work with Welsh Government Officials to devise a Literacy and Numeracy Framework.

5.          The Literacy Framework has been devised and is out for consultation.  The consultation period will end in September 2012.  The Numeracy Framework is currently being devised.

6.          The full Implementation Plan for the initial 20 Point Plan is also in the process of being devised.  This will provide more operational detail to the 20 Point Plan and will include further implementation details for both the Literacy and Numeracy Frameworks.

Relevant Issues and Options

7.          The component strands of English are oracy, reading and writing.  As part of the statutory framework for assessment, teachers are required to submit teacher assessment for each strand, which is then aggregated to form the final end of Key Stage assessment for English.

8.          The term literacy is used to describe a learners overall ability to demonstrate a level of competence in the skills of speaking, reading and writing, in a variety of contexts, subjects or topic areas, across the school as a whole.

9.          National evidence suggests that standards in reading in particular, need to improve.

10.        The Minister is keen to introduce a framework for literacy, that sets out in straightforward terms, the ways in which pupils progress from one level of functioning to the next, within and across all strands.

11.        The Minister is also keen to introduce a consistent approach across Wales to evaluating an individual pupil's reading ability using a standardised test.

12.        Currently teachers use a mix of either i) a standardised reading test, or ii) their professional judgement, or iii) a mix of both to evaluate reading ability demonstrated by a pupil against the National Level Descriptors contained in the National Curriculum.

13.        In the Vale of Glamorgan we have used a standardised reading test for many years.  We use this type of test as well as teacher's professional judgement to arrive at the end of Key Stage reading assessment for pupils.

14.        Additionally, we use the reading test on an annual basis and for all year groups from Year 1 to Year 9, not solely at the end of any one Key Stage.

15.        Schools and the Advisory Service use this information diagnostically to plan for further improvement, as well as in a summative way to arrive at statutory End of Key Stage Assessment.

16.        The recently published National Literacy Framework and soon to be published Numeracy Framework set out the actions the Welsh Government intends to implement to improve literacy and numeracy standards in Wales.

17.        The plans for a national framework and for a system of national testing are integral to both frameworks.

18.        All learners in years 2 through to 9 will be required to be assessed using the national tests for the first time in May 2013.  Welsh Government have awarded a contract to the National Foundation for Education Research (NFER) for the development of bespoke national reading tests.  The tests will be available in both English and Welsh: reading tests will be separate but comparable tests, they will not be translations.

19.        Learners following a Welsh language programme of study will take a reading test in Welsh only in years 2 and 3 but in both English and Welsh in year 4 onwards.  Schools will have the option to use both tests in year 3.  Learners will take the numeracy test in either English or Welsh.

20.        Although Welsh Government want the tests to be directly comparable they will draw on different source materials and be separately developed to ensure linguistic and cultural integrity.  This will also avoid duplication for learners taking the test in both languages.

21.        Some of the data generated from the national tests will be used as part of the accountability framework, including banding.

22.        All data should be used to support effective planning, self evaluation and learner tracking.

23.        Parents should be informed of the outcome of a test undertaken by their child.  It is expected that this information will form part of their annual report to parents/carers.

24.        The tests will be administered and marked in schools.  Schools will be able to plan the exact details of test administration to best suit their timetable and learners within specified guidelines.

25.        Clear and concise guidance will be provided by Welsh Government to ensure consistency of administration, balanced with clear indications of where flexibility can be applied to ensure that administration is straight forward and does not present too great a burden on learners or teachers.

26.        Welsh Government wants to develop a consistent test, consistently used, to help them and school leaders develop a shared understanding of how we are doing in developing literacy skills for learners in Wales.

27.        For this academic year only, all local authorities, including the Vale of Glamorgan have agreed to test in both primary and secondary schools on a voluntary basis.

28.        The tests will be introduced on a statutory basis from 2013.

29.        The expectations set out in the framework are more stretching than many of those currently in the curriculum to provide a more rigorous approach to raising standards.  In light of this, and to ensure that we have a balanced and streamlined set of assessments Welsh Government is currently considering existing assessment arrangements and taking a broader look at the curriculum and foundation phase.

30.        In the Vale of Glamorgan we will continue to analyse current data and incorporate the new test data into our systems in due course.

31.        Analyses of all pupil achievement is conducted at the end of every year in order to effectively inform planning at local Authority level, school and individual pupil level.

32.        In summary, the new Literacy Framework, as well as the testing regime, will be incorporated into our School Improvement Programmes via consultation with our Head teachers and partners in the new Joint Education School Improvement Service for Central South Consortium. 

Resource Implications (Financial and Employment)

33.        Decisions around costs and payment of the statutory tests are still being undertaken.

Sustainability and Climate Change Implications

34.        None.

Legal Implications (to Include Human Rights Implications)

35.        None.

Crime and Disorder Implications

36.        None.

Equal Opportunities Implications (to include Welsh Language issues)

37.        None.

Corporate/Service Objectives

38.        This report supports the Council's corporate objectives for Education and Lifelong Learning and the priorities it identified in Education 2015.

Policy Framework and Budget

39.        The recommendations in this report will need to be reflected in the Council's Literacy and Numeracy Policies in due course, as well within consortium arrangements.

Consultation (including Ward Member Consultation)

40.        Not applicable.

Relevant Scrutiny Committee

41.        Lifelong Learning.

Background Papers

Published National Literacy Programme and testing arrangements.

Contact Officer

Lynette Jones, Head of School Improvement, ALN and Adult Community Learning

Officers Consulted

Jane McCarthy, Estyn Inspector and Literacy Advisor for School Improvement Service

Responsible Officer:

John Maitland-Evans, Chief Executive