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Kirsty Williams, Cabinet Secretary for Education

First published:
17 May 2018
Last updated:

This was published under the 2016 to 2021 administration of the Welsh Government

Our National Mission is to raise standards, close the attainment gap and create an education system that is a source of national pride. In our education system every child counts; the way we hold schools to account should reflect this.

Working with the OECD and learning from best practice across the world, we recognise that the way in which we measure schools and system performance must better reflect our commitment to high expectations for all learners, teacher development and the added value provided by each individual school.

In Education in Wales: Our National Mission 2017-2021 a key enabling objective is to establish robust evaluation and accountability arrangements supporting a self improving system. To support this, we have already made a number of changes.  

Actions already taken

We have consulted on ceasing the publication of Teacher Assessment data below the national level. This will help shift focus back to pupil assessment rather than data wrongly being used as part of a high stakes accountability system.


We have consulted on the use of National Reading and Numeracy test data. I want to make it clear that data from these tests are not used as part of the accountability system.

A summary of responses to the consultation was published on 4 May. We anticipate that the amending regulations will come into force in August for implementation from September 2018.

National tests will continue, and from the Autumn a system of a personalised online assessments will be rolled out so that parents will continue to get annual information on the development of their child’s reading and numeracy skills.

We have addressed the growing culture around GCSE early entry to ensure decisions are made in learners’ best interests; the data from Step 1 of National School Categorisation is now used as part of a school’s self-evaluation with regional consortia; and alongside this, Estyn have commissioned Professor Graham Donaldson to undertake a review of current inspection arrangements.  

Assessment and Evaluation Framework

Working with the OECD, we continue to develop a new Assessment and Evaluation Framework, to be published alongside the curriculum for feedback in April 2019, for implementation in 2022. I will provide a further update on this later in the term, following the publication of Professor Donaldson’s review.


As part of our journey towards a new framework, we committed in Our National Mission to introducing transitional evaluation arrangements for 2019 with schools in order to support deeper collaborations between schools and secure the raising of standards for all learners.

Interim Key Stage 4 performance measures and Evaluation Indicators for 2019 onwards

We have been working collaboratively with schools on a range of transitional and interim performance measures for secondary schools that shifts the focus from ‘average’ to raising our aspirations for all learners.


These new measures, based on points scores, will remove the emphasis on the Level 2 inclusive measures for GCSE and the narrow focus on borderline C/D grade pupils that past use of threshold measures has cultivated. I am determined that we raise the standards for all of our learners, including our more able and talented.

To this end, we will move to an updated version of the current ‘Capped 9’ points score. This will include three specified components at its core, one each reporting on GCSEs which indicate a pupil’s outcomes in literacy, numeracy and science. These will also stand as performance measures on their own. Each of these components will capture every pupil’s best GCSE results from the specified subjects.

The remaining six components will comprise pupils’ best results for GCSE, or equivalent qualifications approved or designated for delivery in Wales, and as such will be open to local choice.

Specified components

Learning Measures (GCSE only)

Measure type


Best of English Language, Welsh First Language, English Literature or Welsh Literature

Average points score


Best of mathematics or numeracy

Average points score



Best of Science

Average points score

This will result in a school’s average points score for all 3. All schools will be expected to self-evaluate against these points scores, plus the average points score for both learners eligible and not eligible for Free School Meals, along with the performance of boys and girls, to ensure that every child counts and that we value the progress of all pupils across the cohort.

We will expect to see that the remaining 6 components of the Capped 9 reflect the school’s context and the breadth of curriculum offered and provide assurances that all pupils are able to follow a curriculum that meets their needs.

In addition to the separate components, schools will also need to self-evaluate against the average points score for the whole Capped 9 and again, the splits between learners eligible and not eligible for Free School Meals and girls and boys. This approach will allow a far more sophisticated and robust analysis of school and learner progress than is currently in operation.

Attainment of the Welsh Baccalaureate Skills Challenge Certificate at Foundation and National level will be included as specific performance measures to ensure all young people engage with this qualification which provides the skills that both employers and HE require. Additionally, the Skills Challenge Certificate can count in the Capped 9 alongside any other approved or designated qualifications for delivery in Wales. The Skills Challenge Certificate qualification will count if it is one of a pupil’s best 6 results outside of the 3 specified components.

Furthermore, we will be sharing with schools a further range of measures and analyses to support robust and rigorous self-evaluation. In addition to the above, schools will also need to consider their performance using the following analyses:


  • the cohort for each school will be divided into thirds showing the average score for the top third highest scorers in the cohort, second third of the cohort and lowest third of the cohort. This will ensure that schools do not drive up their averages simply by focusing on a single part of the cohort. The same approach will be taken at a national level, and each third cohort compared. This will ensure that every learner counts.
  • the performance of schools in a very similar socio-economic setting, so that schools can more easily learn from the successes of others facing similar challenges.
  • participation, entry and grades received for English Language, Welsh Language (first and second language), Mathematics and Numeracy along with single, double and triple science. It is my intention that we continue to focus on improving the quality of outcomes for our young people in all of these key areas, and through the self-evaluation system. 

Reporting against the interim performance measures will commence in September 2019. We will continue to work with schools and stakeholders on the implementation of these performance measures.