Kirsty Williams, Cabinet Secretary for Education
Today we are publishing the Final Report of the Evaluation of the National Literacy and Numeracy Programmes (NLNP) ( http://gov.wales/statistics-and-research/evaluation-national-literacy-numeracy-programmes/?lang=en ) by the independent research contractors SQW.
As a Government we know that systemic change takes time if it is to have a lasting impact. We want a curriculum which provides all our learners with the skills and knowledge, ambition, confidence and qualifications for individual and national success.
In March 2016 the Welsh Government’s commitment to literacy and numeracy was re-affirmed by the publication of the National Literacy and Numeracy Programme- a strategic action plan, which sets out in a single document the actions we will continue to take to improve in these vital areas.
Developing a continuum of learning for these skills from the Foundation Phase through to the reformed GCSEs has been the main purpose behind our reforms in order to bring long term sustained improvement, and will continue to be central to the education reform now under way.
With this in mind, I welcome the findings of the evaluation of the NLNP. It is extremely encouraging that schools have embraced and implemented so effectively our Programmes, and that key policies, such as the National Literacy and Numeracy Framework and National Tests, have led to changes in strategic planning to benefit all our learners.
In summary, the final report recognises the strengths in our education system, including:
• notable improvements in the levels of attainment over the five years of the study and a narrowing of the gap in attainment between FSM pupils and their peers in English, Welsh and mathematics.
• high levels of school to school working; and
• wide spread agreement of the aims of the NLNP and a collective responsibility to improve.
The report also provides a number of recommendations to consider which we are working hard to address. The review found that:
• some schools have mixed feelings about the support they have received to embed the NLNP from both Welsh Government and Consortia. I recognise the need to ensure that schools continue to be fully supported to deliver on literacy and numeracy. I want to assure you that we will continue to invest in support and work together with our partners in Regional Education Consortia to make sure schools receive the support that they need.
• some schools still need support in implementing the National Literacy and Numeracy Framework (LNF) effectively. The LNF is a key policy of the NLNP, and therefore it is crucial that all schools are equipped with the confidence to implement it successfully. There is ongoing work to support the LNF which includes the direct support delivered via the consortia referenced above and a comprehensive package of bilingual guidance materials available on Learning Wales. We will continue to support schools with the LNF as needs are identified.
• during the evaluation period there was increasing confidence amongst practitioners of the value of National Test data as an accurate assessment of achievement in literacy and/or numeracy . However, there was no uniformity in the way the test data was used. We will continue to work with the Regional Education Consortia to encourage schools to make use of the diagnostic information the tests can provide. The new personalised assessments that I am phasing in from the 2018/19 academic year will provide schools with immediate feedback to plan next steps in learning and assess progress.
I want to finish by thanking practitioners for all of their dedication and efforts to help us achieve our aim to improve the literacy and numeracy skills of learners - working together great progress is being made.