Pupils in Wales struggle to read and write, warns Estyn
Pupils’ performance in English is lower than in all other core subjects, at Key stage 3, a study by Estyn has revealed.
Children of all ages are struggling to read and write and many children aged 11-14 are making “basic errors” in spelling, punctuation and grammar.
Many schools responding well
“Too many pupils have a weak grasp of literacy skills which affects how well they do at school. Even when pupils do well in external assessments of their Welsh or English, their literacy skills are not always strong enough for them to apply these skills fully and confidently in other subject areas”, said Ann Keane, Estyn’s Chief Inspector.
“However, we have found that many schools have responded well to the increased emphasis on developing pupils’ key skills and they have made improving literacy a top priority in their school development plan. All schools surveyed have literacy co-ordinators but it is too early to judge the impact of their leadership on improving standards.”
The report on literacy follows the introduction of the National Literacy Programme (NLP) which set clear national expectations and is designed to combat current inconsistencies in provision, Wales Online reported.
Owen Hathway, Policy Officer for NUT Cymru, welcomed the new NLP. “Hopefully, the introduction of clearer and easier guidance will help assist the profession in the already extensive work they are doing to support literacy in schools. We will naturally be monitoring the effectiveness of the Welsh Government’s scheme in achieving this.”
The Estyn report goes on to make recommendations for schools, The Welsh Government and local authorities. These include monitoring the impact of strategies for improving literacy to providing better guidance and support for teachers.
In response to the report’s findings, Shadow Education Minister Angela Burns said, “it appears to validate Estyn’s previous evidence that as many as 40% of young people start secondary school unable to read properly. If a child is struggling with basic literacy skills, it will set back both their confidence and performance in almost every other subject”.
Commenting on Estyn’s report, a Spokesman for the Welsh Government said, “poor literacy skills affect not just the achievements of learners in Welsh or English but also their ability to make good progress in other areas of the curriculum. We welcome Estyn’s report. Their [Estyn’s] recommendations will inform our work to ensure that literacy levels in Wales improve. We have made clear our commitment to improving literacy standards in our schools. The recently published National Literacy Programme sets out the actions we will take to achieve this”.
Children are turned off reading for pleasure
Further concerns for children’s literacy has been raised across the UK, with more than two-fifths of UK teachers saying children are turned off reading for pleasure by the time they finish primary school.
The survey, carried out by the publishers Pearson showed 97% of teachers thought parents could do more to encourage their child to read and 74% warned that pupils did not spend enough time reading outside the classroom the BBC reported.
“The findings of the survey are no surprise, said Schools Minister Nick Gibb. “Children need to master the basics of reading as early as possible in primary school so they can then go on to explore magical and powerful books such as Private Peaceful, Harry Potter, and, in good time, books such as Lord of the Flies, Animal Farm and those by Charles Dickens."