Reading and numeracy tests to be introduced

Student sitting an exam
National tests for school aged students in Wales were scrapped in 2004 Photo: David Davies/PA Wire

A new national reading test is to be introduced to improve literacy skills. The Education Minister is launching a new National Literacy Programme to try and tackle the problem of poor reading skills in Welsh students.

Leighton Andrews says standardised tests will improve the focus on improving literacy and numeracy in primary schools.

A report by the school's inspectorate Estyn earlier this year found that 40% of pupils arrive at secondary school with reading ages below their actual age, 20% of those are up to eighteen months behind. The most recent tests for 11-year-olds in England put the equivalent figure at 16%.

National tests for school aged students were scrapped by the then Education Minister Jane Davidson in 2004 and replaced with more teacher assessment and a skills-based assessment for every child when they are nine-years-old.

Teaching unions have broadly welcomed the move to bring tests back for literacy and numeracy, but say it's important that it doesn't add to the teachers work load.

The Welsh Government say that driving up standards is vital to ensure young people develop the skills they need to succeed. It's hoped that tests will help teachers and schools identify strengths and weakness for individuals and help to ensure those who need extra support get it.

The first groups of students will start sitting the National Reading and Numeracy Tests from May 2013. The tests will be available in both English and Welsh.

Nicola Hendy has been to Ysgol Gynradd Gymraeg Cwm Garw in Pontycymer, where the strategy was launched.