Following a disappointing PISA performance in 2009, the Welsh government developed a curriculum planning tool called the Literacy and Numeracy Framework, borne out of international best practice, to identify the expected outcomes for students. The government then needed a strategic partner to help implement and embed the new Framework to improve literacy and numeracy in students aged 4 to 14.
With our extensive international experience of school and curriculum reform, Education Development Trust (then operating at CfBT Education Trust) was chosen to design and implement the National Support Programme for the government's Numeracy and Literacy Framework. We worked with all 1604 schools in Wales to support them through the process of adopting the government’s Literacy and Numeracy Framework. Working in partnership with the Welsh government, we established a school-centred, sustainable model of improvement, building competency at every level in the school system through training, materials and personal support. As a direct result of our work, adoption of the Welsh government's Literacy and Numeracy Framework has vastly improved.
In the first year of operation alone, the percentage of schools rated red against their application of the Literacy and Numeracy Framework went from 80% to 0%.
Measuring Framework adoption
We gathered our experts on school system reform to develop a baseline-assess adoption of the Framework against 25 statements across four areas - leadership, curriculum, assessment and learning and teaching. We worked with all 1604 school leaders to capture this baseline on progress tracker software we specifically created to ensure all the data was captured and trackable. The software used a traffic light system of red, amber or green, and was updated at six scheduled checkpoints throughout the life of the programme. This was the first national body of knowledge for Wales on literacy and numeracy skills and development needs for every school across this age range.
Targeted and prioritised support
Data from baseline assessment informed the identification of each school's top five priority support needs, at which point support packages were mapped to schools. This ensured support was prioritised against the greatest needs of the schools. These priority areas were shared as a detailed cross-system map with the Welsh government. We used our experienced education experts to offer specific interventions and targeted support to a cluster of schools. This support included:
Establishing data-driven school improvement
During the final phase of the programme, the progress tracker measured where the Framework was being most successfully applied and where support was still needed. This process of regular feedback means that resource allocation was targeted and tailored directly to the point of need, ensuring that schools continued to progress with their adoption of the framework and resources were cost effectively distributed.
Building schools' capacity to self-improve and collaborate
The benefit of our schools led approach is demonstrated in the body of best practice resources, quality assured by Education Development Trust, shared nationally on the National Support Programme website. In total, 90 grants were given to schools and this system of grants has yielded around 300 materials and resources. Education Development Trust's experts were also able to facilitate collaboration within peer-to-peer networks in local hubs.
As a result of our delivery of the National Support Programme, schools are well networked and have an established learning community to draw upon for support, best practice and collaboration. This sustainable approach to school improvement empowers education practitioners and ensures that school systems are able to continue to self-improve against the Government’s Framework. Education Development Trust's activities have supported the drive in adoption of the Framework, and ultimately improved school performance in Wales.