Children’s literacy skills found lacking in Wales
Forty per cent of pupils in Wales are entering secondary school with a reading age that is more than six months below their actual age, the chief inspector of Welsh education inspectorate Estyn has warned.
Publishing her annual report for the education and training inspectorate for Wales, Ann Keane described the findings as “unacceptable” and urged teachers to plan lessons more effectively to develop pupils’ literacy and numeracy skills across all subjects.
Although performance in four out of five primary schools and two out of three secondary schools inspected was mainly found to be good, Keane said teachers must be able to adapt lessons for learners of all abilities.
Keane said: “We have concerns about standards in reading and writing in a significant minority of primary schools. Forty per cent of pupils enter secondary schools with a reading age that is more than six months below their actual age. This is unacceptable.
“Teachers and managers need to plan lessons more effectively to develop pupils’ literacy and numeracy skills in all subjects. We have seen a drop in the proportion of excellent or outstanding teaching by comparison with the last cycle of inspections.
“Schools need to do more to adapt their materials and teaching styles to meet the needs of learners of all abilities.”
Of the 238 primary schools inspected, five per cent were judged excellent, 74 per cent good, 19 per cent adequate and two per cent unsatisfactory.
Four schools had special measures imposed, eight needed significant improvement and 43 required an Estyn monitoring visit.
The Welsh government has been gradually expanding its early years scheme, the Foundation Stage, since 2008, which now covers children aged from three to seven years.
In around 30 per cent of schools standards of reading and writing remain a concern. The inspectorate found that in many schools pupils in the Foundation Stage made good progress in speaking, listening and reading. However, the report found that in nearly a quarter of schools inspected, pupils’ written work was full of simple spelling and grammatical errors.
In nearly all primary schools pupil wellbeing is good or better, with pupils feeling safe and behaving well.
Keane said: “The Foundation Phase is a strength in the majority of schools, with boys and girls responding positively to the stimulating activities. They are more independent, confident and creative.
“But despite this progress, there are still several areas that are still a concern: children and young peoples’ reading and writing skills and the uneven quality of teaching and leadership.”
Of the 31 secondary schools inspected, 13 per cent were judged excellent, 52 per cent good, 32 per cent adequate and three per cent unsatisfactory.
In most schools, inspectors found that pupils made good progress in developing their knowledge and understanding, but in schools where standards are adequate or unsatisfactory, performance in external examinations was weak with shortcomings in pupils’ literacy.
Pupils in most schools were found to listen well in lessons and many pupils were also able to write well for a wide variety of purposes and audiences. However, in about a quarter of schools, standards in writing are not as good as in other aspects of literacy.
During 2010/11, Estyn inspected seven local authorities and found performance is good overall in only two. Five of the seven authorities inspected required follow-up visits, with three judged adequate, one in need of significant improvement and one in special measures
Source: CYP Now