Home Page

Basic Skills

Welcome to the Basic Skills page.

Basic Skills 2013-2014


Ysgol Bryn Castell

A Guide to Basic Skills support at YBC

What is Basic Skills?

Basic Skills is defined by the Welsh Government (2009) as ‘the ability to read, write and speak in English or Welsh and to use Maths, at a level necessary to function and progress both in work and in society.’

Basic Skills Cymru is the Welsh Government's strategy to help children and adults in Wales who struggle with basic literacy and numeracy.

The basic skills strategy is underpinned by the following fundamental aims:

  • All young children should be prepared for learning when they begin school
  • The number of children leaving primary school struggling over reading, writing and using numbers should be further reduced
  • Fewer young people should leave compulsory education still struggling with basic skills
  • The number of adults with poor basic skills should be diminished significantly


Why do we need Basic Skills?

  • ‘Literacy and numeracy underpin nearly all the other skills we need in our daily lives – at work, in the family or in leisure and other activities. Although most people with poor basic skills will cope, they will often avoid situations that require these skills and therefore miss out on so much’ (Welsh Government, 2009).
  • ‘We must continue the drive to reduce the number of young people leaving school without good literacy and numeracy skills. Without these skills the opportunities that are available in education, training and employment will not be available to them’ (Welsh Government, 2009).


  • In early 2013, Ysgol Bryn Castell achieved The Basic Skills Quality Standard. The Quality Standard is awarded to those schools, colleges and other learning providers that have a strategy for the identification of basic skills needs, and to support those needs. The standard is renewed within a three year cycle and the Quality Standard is aligned to, and will complement the Estyn framework.      


  • Basic Skills assessments and interventions have identified areas that many of our pupils have difficulty with. Basic Skills lessons and one to one support with key Basic Skills support workers provide an opportunity to focus closely on these areas to increase literacy and numeracy levels of our pupils and in turn develop self esteem and confidence to carry out simple literacy and numeracy tasks.


Basic Skills - Referral Criteria


One to One Literacy Referrals


All pupils are tested using Accelerated Reader, which determines a reading age and Single Word Spelling Test which establishes a spelling age. All results are entered into the school’s Basic Skills Database. Those pupils in the lowest cohort with a reading age of <8.05 are referred for extra one to one basic skills support and those selected receive Rapid Reading interventions twice a week, where possible. Most of these pupils also access Toe by Toe in their pastoral classes with support workers and some access Lexion, a computer-based programme for stimulating and training people with language related learning disorders, dyslexia or aphasia and includes focus on phonological awareness, letter-sound correspondence, syllable and morpheme segmentation and blending etc. Lexion sessions are supported by the school’s Speech and Language Therapist. Those with phonological awareness difficulties are also engaged in the Beat Dyslexia programme sessions, as well as Rapid Reading as of September 2013.


Some pupils are referred as a result of staff members raising concerns and suggesting pupils they feel could benefit from one to one support. Such referrals are backed up by the data which suggests that extra support is necessary.

Numeracy Referrals


The majority of pupils in KS2 and KS3 and all Post 16 pupils have been BKSB assessed by the basic skills worker. These assessments have provided a Numeracy BKSB level for each pupil over the past year. As of September 2013, the Local Authority requires all pupils from Year 5 to Year 9 to complete BKSB English and Maths assessments.


The main baseline assessment used to identify Maths referrals is MaLT testing which provides a maths age for each pupil. Those in the lowest cohort as shown on the database with a maths age of <8.05, are considered priority and selected for additional support where they receive mainly Rapid Maths intervention and or support within some of their Maths lessons. BKSB resources and elements of other relevant materials provided by the Maths Department and otherwise, are also used to address mathematical misconceptions with each pupil, if and when necessary.


Pupils receiving additional support for both literacy and numeracy are retested and reassessed at a later date to measure progress and identify if there is still a need for one to one interventions to take place. The database is re-sorted into lowest and highest cohorts following reassessment and those pupils in the lowest either continue or begin to access one to one basic skills support and interventions.


Some pupils in the middle cohorts may be selected for support as they have potential to progress further with extra support and intervention.

Literacy and Language (LAL) Groups


A number of pupils at YBC have been identified to take part in LAL group sessions that have been put in place as a result of very little movement in their reading ages over the past 2 academic years. As of September 2013, these groups are withdrawn from English lessons, twice a week, where they currently receive Rapid Reading and Beat Dyslexia interventions with Kayleigh Cattell (Basic Skills) and Lisa Chapman (Speech and Language Therapist).


These sessions also provide opportunity for pupils to take part in other relevant literacy games and activities in a bid to improve their Literacy and Language skills. This term, lower school groups have been working to improve their knowledge, understanding and use of vocabulary. Selected words for these vocabulary activities can often be found within the High Frequency word lists which the pupils are assessed on each year and more recently words from the Rapid Reading Programme have been selected for use within language based activities.


Post 16 pupils are currently working through the Beat Dyslexia programme whilst working towards completing OCN’s in Punctuation and Grammar.


Sessions mostly take place in a separate learning area in Ceri Finneral’s English class during English lessons and in the IT Suite for Post 16 groups.