English in key stages 2 and 3 - June 2014


This report has been produced in response to a request for advice from the Welsh Government in the Minister’s annual remit letter to Estyn for 2013-2014. The advice is set in the context of the Welsh Government’s improving standards agenda. This agenda emphasises the need for schools to accelerate improvement so that learners achieve higher standards. The report examines standards of English in key stages 2 and 3 and includes case studies of best practice. The report refers to English as a subject taught in both English and Welsh-medium primary and secondary schools.
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Primary and secondary schools should:

  • continue to focus on raising standards of pupils’ independent and extended writing, giving close attention to content, expression and accuracy;
  • continue to raise pupils’ ability to read for information and use higher-order reading skills;
  • tackle the underperformance of pupils entitled to FSM in English, including for more able pupils, by targeting and matching support to their individual learning needs;
  • provide challenging work in English to stretch all pupils, particularly the more able;
  • agree how to teach spelling, punctuation and grammar and provide consistency in approaches, such as teaching spelling rules and strategies;
  • improve ‘assessment for learning’ practices and the marking of pupils’ work;
  • achieve a better balance of literary and non-literary material and cover all seven writing genres;
  • work with other schools to share effective standardisation and moderation practices; and
  • share more information to aid pupils’ transition to secondary school.

In addition, secondary schools should:

  • improve the teaching of writing as a process by encouraging pupils to plan, review, edit and improve their own work; and
  • make more use of oracy prior to reading and writing, in order to help pupils to develop and extend their understanding and improve the quality of their work.

The Welsh Government should:

  • improve the reliability and validity of teacher assessment by reviewing assessment criteria and introducing external moderation at key stage 2 and key stage 3.