Nothing is more important than ensuring all of our young people have the skills they need to read, write and communicate. It is unacceptable that pupils are leaving primary school with levels of literacy below the levels they should have. We have to get this right.
There are many schools across Wales which are already getting it right. I’ve seen plenty of excellent examples of teaching and learning in literacy. What we must do is ensure that all learners benefit from excellent teaching of literacy and develop the skills that are so vital to their future success.
I have previously spoken about the steps needed to raise literacy levels and our National Literacy Programme (NLP), which we’ll be publishing next week, brings these plans together and explains how we’ll translate them into actions.
The NLP sets out the actions that we and our partners need to take to achieve a step change in literacy standards in the next 5 years.
Firstly, we want to support teachers of every subject across every phase of education to become teachers of literacy. This means taking a national approach to professional development in literacy – including giving teachers the opportunity to undertake additional study. Our new Masters in Educational Practice will include a specific literacy module.
A key component of our plans to support teachers will be to identify outstanding teachers of literacy who can transfer their knowledge to their peers. They will support our Professional Learning Communities, allowing them to draw on this knowledge and experience to model good practice in the classroom.
If we’re to truly support teachers then we must give them the right tools for the job. Central to the NLP is the development of a National Literacy and Numeracy Framework, which we’ll be putting out to consultation from 11 June to 19 October.
The Literacy and Numeracy Framework (LNF) sets out clear annual expectations for literacy and numeracy for all learners aged 5 to 14. Both primary and secondary schools will use the LNF to make sure that the teaching of literacy and numeracy skills is embedded in all subjects across the curriculum rather than focused on English, Welsh and Maths lessons alone. The LNF will allow all teachers to monitor pupils’ progress against end of year expectations for literacy and help schools identify how best to challenge and support all of their learners.
The expectations set out in the LNF are more stretching than many of those currently in the curriculum to provide a more rigorous approach to raising standards. In light of this, I am considering current assessment arrangements and a broader look at the curriculum.
Alongside the Literacy and Numeracy Framework, we are also developing Welsh and English national reading tests for learners in years 2 through to 9. The tests will give teachers and parents a more accurate picture of the level of a pupil’s reading ability by helping to identify their individual strengths and weaknesses. This means that where pupils fall behind schools can step in and intervene. It also means that schools can challenge their more able and talented pupils.
Learners who fall behind with their literacy skills will struggle to keep up with the rest of the curriculum and fulfil their potential. This is unacceptable. Through the steps I have outlined above, we will turn this situation around and deliver the improvements we need and the standards our learners deserve.