The Minister for Education and Skills made raising standards of literacy and numeracy in schools a priority (Raising Schools Standards, 2011) and in January 2013 the new National Literacy and Numeracy Framework (LNF) for all learners aged 5 to 14 was made available to schools (Literacy and Numeracy Timeline 2013/14, Welsh Government).
The National Literacy Programme (NLP) and National Numeracy Programme (NNP) sets out the actions the Welsh Government intends to implement to improve literacy and numeracy standards in Wales. The LNF and a system of national testing are integral to both programmes.
National Numeracy Programme (NNP)
Statutory national reading and numeracy tests were introduced in May 2013 for all learners in Years 2 to 9. These will be annual assessments with the results being reported to parents/carers and Estyn.
The LNF is statutory from September 2013 and affects the Foundation Phase and Key Stages 2 and 3.
The Review of Qualifications 14–19 (2012) recommended the development of two new GCSEs: GCSE in Numeracy and GCSE Mathematics Techniques. These will be implemented in Wales only for first teaching in September 2015.
Essential Skills Wales (ESW)
The Review of Qualifications 14–19 recommends that ESW qualifications are no longer used within the Welsh Baccalaureate at 14 to 16 years of age.
ESW content, structure and assessment will be reviewed through comprehensive stakeholder engagement in 2013 with new qualifications trialled in 2014.
The Learning Wales website provides a link to the LNF and explains:
The National Literacy and Numeracy Framework (LNF) has been developed to help achieve our [the Welsh Government] aim that the children of Wales are able to develop excellent literacy and numeracy skills during their time at school.
The LNF provides schools with a curriculum-planning tool, identifying clear annual expected outcomes in literacy and numeracy for all learners aged 5 to 14. It can be used to monitor and assess learners’ progress on a year-to-year basis and therefore identify where additional support may be needed.
The national tests
The Numeracy Procedural Test was statutory from 2013 and the Numeracy Reasoning Test will be statutory from 2014. The results will be reported as an age-equivalent score and placed in one of five categories.
- Considerably below national average.
- Below national average.
- National average score range.
- Above national average.
- Considerably above national average.
Some more able learners will achieve a score above the highest standardized score and will only be given an age-equivalent score.
Schools will be able to use the test results to plan interventions for specific learners and review their numeracy delivery. The data generated from the national tests is likely be used as part of the accountability framework, including banding which will affect the school’s development planning.
Investigate the use of standardised scoring and age-equivalent scores to provide a full understanding of the test results.