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Written Statement - Review of assessment and the National Curriculum in Wales

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The school curriculum for 3 – 19 year-olds has been developed to meet the needs of individual learners whilst taking into account the broader needs of Wales.
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Leighton Andrews, Minister for Education and Skills


My key priority is to raise the standard of education and improve outcomes for young people in Wales.  As part of this we are reforming the system in order to improve levels of literacy and numeracy, and to reduce the impact of deprivation on these.  

In order to embed literacy and numeracy across all subjects in the curriculum and to support all teachers to become teachers of literacy and numeracy we are introducing the National Literacy and Numeracy Framework (LNF).  The LNF will be a statutory curriculum requirement for pupils from Reception to Year 9, from September 2013, and teachers will be required to undertake annual assessments of pupils’ progress in meeting the expectations set out within the LNF and report these to parents.  Alongside the LNF we are introducing reading and numeracy tests for pupils in Year 2 to Year 9, which will provide further evidence of pupils’ level of attainment in addition to the teacher assessments that will be undertaken.

Taken together these two reforms represent a significant change to the assessment arrangements in schools in Wales.  I have therefore asked my officials to consider the wider assessment arrangements which operate in schools and to make recommendations to me on any changes needed to ensure that the LNF and the tests form part of a coherent approach.  The review will respond to concerns about the reliability of teacher assessment highlighted by Estyn, consider whether standards/levels of attainment contained within our curriculum are sufficiently stretching and explore the impact of changing assessment on the wider curriculum.  I have asked officials to consider, in particular, the use and usefulness of the current approach to level descriptors and attainment targets, the most appropriate modes of assessment, how assessment data is used and reported, and the timing of the assessments that are undertaken and which subjects it is necessary to assess.  My aims in undertaking this review are to streamline and simplify assessment arrangements and ensure that assessment supports improvements in teaching and learning.

The LNF very deliberately raises the bar in terms of our expectations of what children should know and be able to do.  I think it is right that we seek to ensure that the standards set for our children are stretching and in keeping with international best practice.  As a result, alongside the review of assessment, I have also asked officials to consider whether the expectations for what children should know and be able to do, as set out in the current National Curriculum Subject Orders, are sufficiently demanding and in line with the expectations of the LNF.  This review will cover each of the National Curriculum core and other foundation subjects, at each key stage, to ensure our expectations of content and skills development are suitably robust.

We will work with and consult stakeholders throughout this review.

The first phase of the review will be completed by September 2013. This will include evidence gathering, consultation with key stakeholders and experts, and analysis, all of which will culminate in a report.

The second phase of the review will be completed by September 2014. This will include identification of any revisions to the current assessment and curriculum arrangements in Wales, informed by public consultation.

Implementation is expected to take place from September 2014.

Further details on how the review is to be taken forward and how key stakeholders including parents, teachers, and the learner can contribute will follow in due course.