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Huw Lewis, Minister for Education and Skills

First published:
13 March 2015
Last updated:

This was published under the 2011 to 2016 administration of the Welsh Government

In October 2014, following consultation with the education profession, I published revised Foundation Phase Areas of Learning (AoL) for Language, Literacy and Communication Skills (LLCS) and Mathematical Development (MD) and revised Programmes of Study (PoS) for Key Stages 2 to 4 for English, Welsh (first language) and mathematics.

These new curriculum requirements allow for better integration of the Literacy and Numeracy Framework into the teaching of English, Welsh and mathematics.  When the Literacy and Numeracy Framework was introduced we very consciously and deliberately raised the bar in terms of expectations for what learners should know and be able to do at all ages and stages of education.  The new curriculum requirements reflect that higher level of expectations.

The more demanding curriculum requirements necessitate a review of expectations at the end of each phase and Key Stage.  These expectations are contained within the Foundation Phase Outcomes and for Key Stages 2 and 3 the National Curriculum Level Descriptors.  

The recommendations contained within Professor Donaldson’s report Successful Futures will require significant changes to assessment.  I am therefore mindful that any changes to assessment that might be necessary now to align curriculum expectations would be an interim position and I do not wish to create more change than is absolutely necessary for schools and learners.  

For the Foundation Phase, I believe it is sensible to issue recalibrated Outcomes that are aligned to the expectation statements within the Areas of Learning, in the summer term. The structure of the Foundation Phase Profile (FPP) will help provide detailed information on a child’s development at the beginning of, throughout, and at the end of Foundation Phase.  This will take effect from September 2015, alongside the Areas of Learning becoming statutory.

For Key Stages 2 to 3, recalibrating level descriptions would require significant changes,  creating additional work for teachers and potentially hindering the reliability of teacher assessments as the system familiarised itself with the new levels. I have therefore determined that a different approach is required.

Guidance for the programmes of study and the Literacy and Numeracy Framework makes it very clear that teaching and learning expectations at the end of Key Stage 3 are more like Level 6 than Level 5 and at the end of Key Stage 2 more like Level 5 than Level 4. Furthermore, we must prepare our learners sufficiently for the skills required for the working world and in the revised GCSEs. Therefore, I have determined that the most sensible approach is to retain the existing level descriptions for affected subjects, but to guide schools to work towards higher expectations in line with the expectation statements. I would expect this to happen in practice from September 2015.

An immediate impact is that from September 2015, Foundation Phase Outcome 5 will be broadly aligned to National Curriculum Level 3, rather than Level 2 as generally expected at present.

To reinforce the revised expectations I intend to make changes to school categorisation to use data to the higher expected level from summer of 2018. To be clear, that means we will use data on Level 5 achievement at the end of Key Stage 2, and Level 6 achievement at the end of Key Stage 3. I believe that this gives sufficient lead in time for schools to adjust their teaching and learning.