Cymraeg

The purpose of personalised assessments

Online assessments in reading and numeracy have been phased in ahead of the introduction of the new Curriculum for Wales. They are designed to support individual learner progression both now and when the new curriculum and assessment arrangements are in place. The assessments are for formative use, so that teachers in all maintained schools have information on the reading and numeracy skills of their learners and a common understanding of strengths and areas for improvement in these skills. When planning progression, teachers are encouraged to give full consideration to the skills identified by the assessments (not the scores alone), alongside any other relevant classroom-based information.

The assessments are focused on understanding learner progress, and should not be used for school performance or accountability purposes.

Requirements for 2021 to 2022

In the academic year 2021 to 2022, learners in Years 2 to 9 in maintained schools (including community, voluntary-aided, voluntary-controlled and foundation) are required to take the personalised assessments in Numeracy and Reading at least once during the school year. Numeracy is taken in 2 parts: Numeracy (Procedural) and Numeracy (Reasoning).

This handbook sets out the arrangements for the National Reading and Numeracy personalised assessments and provides guidance on administration, access and disapplication arrangements. It forms the National Tests administration handbook (‘NT administration handbook’) for the purposes of the Education (National Curriculum) (Assessment Arrangements for Reading and Numeracy) (Wales) Order 2013. National Tests are now delivered online and referred to as ‘personalised assessments’. Therefore, for the purposes of this guidance, National Tests will be referred to as ‘personalised assessments’ or ‘assessments’. With regard to the reference to the National Tests assessment timetable (‘NT assessment timetable’) in the Order, personalised assessments are available for scheduling throughout the year.

Please note that the requirements set out in this handbook were correct at the time of publication. If any requirements change as a result of disruption caused by COVID-19 during the 2021 to 2022 school year, a notice will be published on the Welsh Government website.

Benefits of personalised assessments

By moving reading and numeracy assessments online, the Welsh Government is providing an individualised assessment experience that dynamically adjusts the level of challenge for each learner.

The personalised assessments are constructed from large banks of questions (and texts for the Reading personalised assessments) that are based on the skills in the National Literacy and Numeracy Framework (LNF) for Years 2 to 9.

The assessments are ‘adaptive’ which means that questions are selected based on the learner’s response to the previous question or questions. When learners answer questions correctly they will receive more challenging questions, and when learners answer incorrectly they will receive easier questions. This personalisation means that every learner will see a different set of questions, and the number of questions will vary.

This process continues until the assessment system has covered the relevant aspects of the curriculum and gathered sufficient information on the learner’s responses.

Responses are marked automatically and feedback is made available to staff the day after an assessment is taken.

Timing of personalised assessments

Schools have the flexibility to schedule the personalised assessments at any point during the academic year that they consider is most beneficial to inform learning, teaching and progression planning.

Schools should note that there may be planned downtime for the personalised assessments system from time to time, which will be communicated via the assessment website.

Learners are required to take the personalised assessments once during the 2021 to 2022 academic year. Schools also have the option to use the assessments a second time during the academic year, which can be useful to support understanding of learner and group progress. If schools decide to use an assessment for a second time, it is recommended that learners do not take the second assessment in the same term as the first.

Learner well-being

The purpose of the personalised assessments is to support teachers to assess how learners’ reading and numeracy skills are developing and to use the information to inform learning, teaching and progression planning.

Personalised assessments should not be a cause of worry or anxiety for learners and it is very important that schools consider how the assessments are presented. Familiarisation assessments are available for learners to use at any time so that they can view and become accustomed to the different types of questions available in advance of taking an assessment. Aside from using these, ‘practising’ with questions should be avoided as this is inappropriate and unnecessary in the context of formative assessment and can cause anxiety for learners.

Access to personalised assessments

Staff and learners access the personalised assessments via Hwb, the Welsh Government’s online learning platform, using their individual Hwb account logins. Detailed step-by-step guidance can be found in the user guide, which staff can access on the assessment website once logged in through Hwb.

Before learners can take personalised assessments:

  • the headteacher, or staff member acting on their behalf, must log in and accept the data and administration requirements, and assign functions and access for relevant staff
  • staff need to log in to Hwb and navigate to the personalised assessments website (by clicking on personalised assessments in the menu near the top right-hand side of the page or on the Hwb homepage) in order to schedule and release assessments for learners
  • learners need to log in to Hwb and work through the familiarisation assessments so that they understand the question formats and how to navigate through the assessments

For information on how users find their Hwb usernames and passwords, please go to Getting Started.

Schools should note that the assessment website relies on data retrieved from schools’ management information systems (MIS). Schools need to ensure that their MIS is up to date, that their Hwb Provisioning Client is updated to the latest version and that this runs successfully on a regular basis.

Assessments in other settings, for example pupil referral units (PRUs)

Learners in Years 2 to 9 who are registered in mainstream schools must take the personalised assessments at least once during each academic year. This includes learners who have dual registration in a mainstream school and also at a PRU or special school (unless a disapplication decision has been made). The responsibility for ensuring the assessments are run rests with the headteacher of the mainstream school at which the learner is registered, who can arrange for the learner to take the personalised assessments in either setting.

For PRU learners who are dual-registered, personalised assessments can be scheduled by a teacher on either learning site. Both schools can access the learner’s feedback and progress reports.

Headteacher agreement and user management

Data protection is the responsibility of schools as independent data controllers. Schools need to ensure full compliance with the data protection principles in accordance with the Data Protection Act 2018 and UK General Data Protection Regulation (UK GDPR).

Schools must therefore ensure that access to data about individual learners complies with the UK GDPR. This includes access to data related to the statutory personalised assessments.

Schools have discretion as to which of their staff have access to assessments and reports. When making arrangements for their staff to schedule and facilitate the personalised assessments, schools must be mindful of the provisions of the Welsh Government’s School Teachers’ Pay and Conditions (Wales) Document 2021 or relevant terms and conditions.

In order for personalised assessments to be run in any school, the headteacher (or a suitable staff member acting on their behalf) must log in to the assessments website (accessed via Hwb) and assign functions and access for relevant staff to schedule and facilitate assessments and to view learner and group reports.

The headteacher (or suitable staff member acting on their behalf) also needs to agree that the personalised assessments will be run in accordance with this administration handbook and must re-sign this agreement for each academic year. Access for other staff members will be restricted until this has been signed.

The functions allocated by the headteacher determine which activities staff can undertake on the assessment website. Access can be restricted to particular year groups or classes, to ensure that staff are accessing relevant and appropriate information. The rights and roles allocated in the previous year will automatically carry over for staff remaining in post at the school, therefore the headteacher should review these functions and access requirements each academic year.

The functions shown in the table below are available for headteachers to assign to their staff members. The headteacher is automatically assigned the ‘Administrate’ function, which enables them to manage other users’ functions. The ‘Administrate’ function can also be allocated to other staff members who have been delegated responsibility for assessment arrangements. It is recommended that the ‘Administrate’ function is assigned sparingly, and only to those staff members for whom this level of access is essential.

Figure 1: User management – functions

Function

Schedule personalised assessments 

Facilitate personalised assessments

Access feedback and reports

Manage users

Administrate

Facilitate and analyse

Facilitate

No access

A ‘user’ is any staff member with access to the assessment website.

Scheduling assessments

Please note that the headteacher, or nominated staff member, must allocate access before users can schedule assessments or access feedback and reports.

Schools have the flexibility to schedule the personalised assessments throughout the academic year. Schools can schedule the assessments for individual learners, small groups or whole classes, in accordance with their preferences and their IT facilities. As the personalised assessments are different for each learner, there is no requirement for a whole class of learners to take the assessments at the same time.

Personalised assessments must be scheduled for a particular school day and be scheduled at least the day before the assessment is due to take place. They can be taken at any point during the school day. If a learner does not start an assessment on the scheduled day, it will be cancelled overnight, and the school can reschedule the assessment. If a learner starts an assessment on the scheduled day but does not complete it, the results will be submitted overnight unless the assessment is cancelled by the school. It is important in this situation that the assessment is cancelled and rescheduled by the school.

A step-by-step guide to scheduling assessments is available on the assessment website.

At the start of an assessment, learners are allocated a question (or text and set of questions) based on their curriculum year group. When scheduling, the teacher can override this setting to give an easier starting point if appropriate.

When scheduling, staff members can also select accessibility options, colour and contrast changes as set out under ‘Modifications to personalised assessments’.

Devices and infrastructure

The assessments have been designed to be compatible with a wide range of devices that have a modern browser installed, including:

  • desktop computers
  • laptops, including Chromebooks
  • tablets, including iPads

Before any assessments are run, devices should be fully charged and checked for updates.

Browsers that can be used

You should use one of the following browsers (these are the minimum browser requirements):

  • Google Chrome
  • Microsoft Edge (Chromium)
  • Mozilla Firefox
  • Safari

Please note that you can no longer access personalised assessments using Internet Explorer 11 (IE11). This is due to the fact that Microsoft will be ceasing support and security updates for IE11 in 2022.

Checking IT set-up

To run personalised assessments, schools need:

  • internet connection – typically you will need a minimum bandwidth of 2Mbps if you are assessing a class of 30 learners, with no other significant demands on the network at the time
  • devices – schools can use a combination of devices when running assessments and are encouraged to use what the children are most familiar with
  • Hwb login details for all learners taking the assessments

Further guidance on how to get the best out of your IT systems can be found in the Education Digital Standards and Guidance. The Standards will assist schools to understand, manage and implement their digital environment, by themselves or with their IT support partner. The Standards also provide guidance on how schools should future-proof their digital environment to meet the needs of a more digitally focused school curriculum.

Language

Numeracy personalised assessments can be taken in English or Welsh. The language of a learner’s assessment is chosen when a staff member schedules the assessment. A learner is able to view the question in the alternative language at any point during the assessment by clicking the ‘globe’ icon at the bottom of the screen.

When scheduling the Reading personalised assessments for learners, staff members select which assessments will be taken: English Reading or Welsh Reading. Questions and texts are not available in the alternative language as the assessments assess learners’ skills in reading each language. Statutory requirements regarding which Reading personalised assessments learners should take are covered under the ‘Requirements for learners following the Welsh programme of study’ detailed below.

Familiarisation assessments

In advance of taking personalised assessments, schools should ensure learners have an opportunity to try familiarisation assessments in each subject. This will enable learners to view the question types and understand how to answer them, and also to become familiar with the navigation of the assessments. This is particularly important for the Numeracy (Reasoning) assessment which requires use of audio.

Familiarisation assessments are accessed on the assessment website via Hwb and can be used by learners at any time.

Taking the assessments

Before a learner can take a personalised assessment, a staff member with the appropriate access to facilitate an assessment must release the assessment scheduled for the learner. Staff members have the option to release assessments for individual learners, or for a whole class.

Detailed guidance on how to schedule and facilitate assessments is available in the videos and user guide on the assessment website. The user guide includes checklists for staff to use before and during an assessment.

Once an assessment has been released, the learner can access the assessment on the assessment website via Hwb using their Hwb account login. Learners should navigate to the assessments website and click either ‘Numeracy (Procedural)’, ‘Numeracy (Reasoning)’, ‘English Reading’ or ‘Welsh Reading’.

Key features

Before the assessments have started, staff members should remind learners of key features of these assessments.

  • The purpose is to provide learners with information on their skills so that they understand what they can do and the areas they may need to work on.
  • Learners cannot go back to a previous answer and make amendments once they have moved on to the next question.
  • If learners get stuck on a particular question and cannot answer, they shouldn’t worry if they find it hard, they should just move on to the next question.
  • Learners may need to scroll down on-screen to see the full question content. A green notice will pop up on the screen to warn them of this.
  • If a learner encounters problems with their computer/device, they should raise their hand and advise a staff member (if they need to switch to another device mid-assessment, the assessment will resume where it left off).
  • There is no fixed end point in terms of duration; when the system has gathered enough information the assessments will end automatically.

During the assessments, the staff member should check that learners:

  • are progressing through questions and moving on if they don't know the answer to a particular question
  • are working honestly and independently
  • have rough paper and a pen or pencil for working out/notes

Staff should be aware that if there is an incident or interruption, assessments can be paused, resumed or cancelled in the assessment website.

Assessment conditions

Each learner receives a different set of questions, and therefore it is not necessary for whole classes to take the assessments at the same time; schools can schedule assessments for individual learners, small groups or whole classes, depending on preferences and facilities available.

In order that teachers can gain the most accurate information about learners’ skills, schools should ensure that:

  • the room is set up to allow learners to work on devices independently
  • learners have all necessary resources (paper and a pen or pencil for any rough working out/notes)
  • the work produced in the assessments is genuinely that of the learners
  • there is appropriate supervision at all times
  • the assessments are run according to the guidance given in this handbook

When their assessments have been released by a staff member in the assessment website, learners should navigate to Hwb and enter their Hwb login credentials. They should be given assistance entering these where required.

Assessment length

The personalised assessments do not have a fixed duration or a fixed number of questions (although there is a maximum number of questions). The assessment system stops the assessment when it has made a reliable decision about the learner’s ability. Learners can work at their own pace. The staff member can use their professional judgement to determine how long to give the learner to complete the assessment based on classroom practice and learner well-being.

The staff member facilitating the assessments can and should encourage learners to move on through the questions, rather than spend too long on questions they cannot answer. If necessary, the assessment can be stopped, cancelled by the school and rescheduled for another day.

Numeracy (Procedural) personalised assessments generally last between 20 and 40 minutes; the Numeracy (Reasoning) between 20 and 45 minutes; and Reading personalised assessments generally last between 35 and 45 minutes.

Before learners take the assessments, you will need to ensure that there is sufficient time to set up, including ensuring all devices are working and all learners have their Hwb account login details.

If you are scheduling for a group of learners or a whole class, you may need to plan a suitable activity for those who finish their assessment ahead of the rest of the group.

Rest breaks

Rest breaks may be given to learners of any age, and an assessment may be spread throughout the school day. It is recommended that staff members give particular consideration to younger learners, and that learners in Years 2 and 3 have rest breaks. The length of the break is at the discretion of the school. Staff members should monitor to decide when or if breaks are appropriate for other learners.

The staff member can pause the assessment, and learners can log out of the assessment and then log back in after the break. It is important that the staff member pauses the learner assessment within the assessment website, otherwise the learner will be able to access it from a different device.

The assessment must be completed in a single day. If a learner cannot complete it in a single day the assessment should be cancelled by the school and rescheduled, otherwise the results will be uploaded overnight.

When an assessment is paused or stopped, the results for the questions the learner has answered will be uploaded at 5.00 p.m. on the day the assessment is taken unless the assessment is cancelled. An assessment with submitted answers cannot be restarted.

Absence

Should a learner be absent on the day of a scheduled assessment, the assessment can be rescheduled for another time. If the learner has not started the assessment, it will automatically be cancelled overnight. If a learner has started the assessment but cannot complete it, for example because they are sent home ill, then the assessment should be cancelled by the school.

After the assessments

Feedback and reports

A range of reports are available for individual learners and groups of learners, including whole classes to those staff members with ‘Administrate’ or ‘Facilitate and analyse’ functions.

Feedback on skills for individual learners who have taken Numeracy (Procedural) and Reading personalised assessments is available on the assessment website the day after assessments are completed. Staff have the opportunity to review feedback before releasing this to learners. Guidance on this is available on the assessment website.

After Numeracy (Reasoning) personalised assessments are taken, staff will have access to sample questions which they can use with learners to support the development of reasoning skills.

Progress reports for each assessment are also available the day after assessments are completed. Progress reports include a progress chart which is automatically updated after each assessment, and also an age-standardised score for the learner’s most recent assessment.

Other reports available to schools to support planning and progression include skills profiles and progress reports for groups and classes. Training materials on making use of the information in the reports are available on the assessment website and on Hwb.

Reports must be shared with parents/carers as part of the normal reporting process. The reports to be shared are: feedback for Numeracy (Procedural) and Reading, and individual learner progress reports in all subjects. Wherever possible, schools are encouraged to share these with parents/carers while the information is current. However, teachers can use their professional judgement to decide how and when to share the reports. If the assessments are taken twice during the academic year, then parents/carers should receive both sets of feedback.

Feedback for Numeracy (Reasoning) will be teacher-facilitated and will not result in a report for issue direct to parents/carers.

Monitoring of assessment arrangements

Local authorities have a statutory responsibility to monitor the assessment arrangements in at least 10% of their schools. With the change from paper tests to online assessment, and to support the formative purpose of personalised assessments, monitoring will now focus on promoting good practice in the delivery of the assessments and encouraging the use of information on learners’ skills to inform learning, teaching and progression planning.

Monitoring of how schools are implementing the personalised assessments may take place at any time and is carried out by the local authority or regional education consortium working on the local authority’s behalf. Headteachers and governing bodies have a duty to permit the local authority or regional consortium to access school premises for this purpose.

The assessments are designed for formative use and to support learner progress and not to be used for school performance or accountability purposes. Schools are therefore not required to share assessment scores with their local authority or regional consortium.

Support

Further guidance on the personalised assessments, including managing user access, scheduling and taking assessments, as well as accessing feedback and reports, is available on the assessment website. Training materials in the form of pre-recorded webinars are also available on the assessment website and Hwb. For further support, schools can contact the Assessment Helpdesk on 029 2026 5099 or help@personalisedassessments.wales.

This guidance relates to the specific requirements of administering the Numeracy (Procedural) and Numeracy (Reasoning) personalised assessments.

The Numeracy assessment is taken in 2 parts: Numeracy (Procedural) and Numeracy (Reasoning). The Numeracy (Procedural) assessment focuses on numerical facts and procedures – the tools needed to apply numeracy within a range of contexts. The Numeracy (Reasoning) personalised assessment provides information on how well learners can apply their procedural skills to solve numerical problems.

In 2021 to 2022, following disruption to learning due to the COVID-19 pandemic, it is possible that some learners may not be developing their skills at the same pace as in previous years, and that some Year 2 learners may not be ready to apply their procedural skills to the problems and contexts designed for Year 2 in the bank of questions for the Numeracy (Reasoning) assessments. During this academic year, schools are advised to run the Year 2 Numeracy (Procedural) personalised assessments first, and then to use their discretion and professional judgement regarding whether or not to use the Numeracy (Reasoning) assessments with some or all of their Year 2 learners.

For all other curriculum year groups, the Numeracy (Reasoning) part of the assessment is required. Schools are reminded that, when scheduling, staff can start an assessment with questions designed for a lower year group if they consider that a lower starting difficulty would be appropriate. Headteachers are also reminded that they have the discretion to disapply assessments for learners who are not working at the level of even the easiest questions in the personalised assessments question bank. Teachers are encouraged to use the sample questions supplied with the assessment reports in order to support their learners to develop their reasoning skills.

The use of calculators

Numeracy (Procedural) personalised assessment

Calculators and/or other tools are not allowed to be used for the procedural assessment. Learners should have access to paper and pens/pencils and should be encouraged to use them for their working out.

Numeracy (Reasoning) personalised assessment

Year 2 and Year 3 learners should have access to a calculator for the assessment if they normally use one in class. Learners in Years 4 and above should all have access to a calculator for the assessment. Learners should also have access to paper and pens/pencils and should be encouraged to use them for their working out.

Structure of the assessments

Each Numeracy (Procedural) personalised assessment is tailored to the learner’s responses. The first question in an assessment is selected to be appropriate for a learner in their current curriculum year, although the teacher can override this where necessary if a learner is working at a level significantly below their curriculum year. Subsequent questions are selected from the bank of questions as outlined under ‘Benefits of personalised assessments’ above.

Each Numeracy (Reasoning) personalised assessment is also tailored to the learner’s responses, in a similar way to the Numeracy (Procedural) personalised assessments. However, the content of the assessments varies in some ways. There are two question types in Numeracy (Reasoning) personalised assessments, namely:

  • single mark questions
  • multi-mark questions (with hints)

These questions are used to structure the assessment as follows:

  • for Years 4 to 9, the assessment begins with single-mark questions before progressing to individual multi-mark questions with hints. The assessment concludes with the stimulus section, namely information pages and audio content on which a number of single- and multi-mark questions are based
  • for Years 2 to 3, the assessment comprises single-mark questions followed by the stimulus section described above

For this assessment, learners will access an audio file and must have a set of headphones attached to their device.

It is important to note that learners cannot go back once they have moved on to the next question.

Timing

Numeracy (Procedural) personalised assessment

Learners will work at their own pace, and the length of an assessment will typically be about 30 minutes.

Numeracy (Reasoning) personalised assessments

Learners will work at their own pace, and the length of an assessment will typically be about 35 minutes.

Familiarisation assessments

Familiarisation assessments are provided for staff to use with learners prior to taking the assessment.

They are divided into sets: Years 2 to 3, Years 4 to 6, and Years 7 to 9. Each familiarisation assessment contains 8 or 9 questions, which include examples of each of the question types used in the personalised assessments.

For Numeracy (Reasoning), the assessment includes audio content and the use of hints. It is therefore very important that learners use a familiarisation assessment beforehand to experience and understand how the hint questions work. Learners should be encouraged to attempt all questions and use the hints to help them.

Some learners may not be familiar with some of the question types or may not have completed assessments on computer. It is very important, therefore, that you spend time familiarising learners with these materials so that when they take an assessment it will provide the best information on their skills.

For learners in Years 2 to 6, it is recommended that you read the familiarisation questions aloud and work through each question, checking that learners are clear about how to complete each question.

For learners in Years 7 to 9, you do not have to read the questions aloud but you must ensure that learners are clear about how to complete each of the different types of question and should discuss the most appropriate answer for each of them.

Familiarisation assessments may be accessed at any time. They should be taken shortly before a personalised assessment (though not necessarily in the same lesson due to time constraints and in case learners become tired).

Setting the language of the assessment

When scheduling a Numeracy personalised assessment for learners, staff members can select whether the assessment will be taken in English or Welsh. In either case, the alternative language version of the question will be available as a pop-up window at any time. Clicking on the globe icon at the bottom of the screen allows learners to see the assessment content in the other language. The alternative language version is displayed as an image and the learner cannot enter an answer in the alternative language. In Numeracy (Reasoning) a learner can access the audio in the other language by using the globe icon and selecting the audio on the relevant screen.

Responding to questions

The assessment questions may be read aloud to learners if needed. No help should be given with any of the numerical content of the questions.

You should answer questions such as ‘Is this the right one?’ by saying ‘Choose the one you think is the correct one’.

Facilitating a Numeracy personalised assessment

Before the assessment has started, staff members should remind learners of the key features of the assessments and remind them of the following.

  • If they need help reading a question, they should raise their hand and ask a staff member (who may read the question aloud to the learner but should not help with the numerical content).
  • If they want to see the question in the alternative language (English/Welsh) they should click the globe icon at the bottom of the screen. If they want to hear the audio section in the alternative language in the Numeracy (Reasoning) assessment they should click the globe icon and select the audio on the relevant screen.
  • They can use paper and a pen or pencil for working out, but they must type their answer on-screen.
  • The length of the assessment is not a reflection of their ability and they should work at their own pace. The assessments will be about 30 to 35 minutes, but this will vary (they generally last between 20 minutes and 45 minutes depending on how fast the learner works and how many questions they receive).

During the assessment, the staff member should:

  • check that calculators and other tools are not being used for the Numeracy (Procedural) assessment
  • check that learners are working independently
  • encourage learners to progress through the assessment at a pace that suits them
  • check that learners do have access to calculators (if appropriate) for the Numeracy (Reasoning) assessment, and that they have headphones ready to use for the audio section

This guidance relates to the specific requirements for running the Reading personalised assessments.

Structure of the assessment

Each Reading personalised assessment is tailored to the learner’s responses. At the start of the assessment the learner will receive either a sentence completion question or a short text with 3 associated questions. The initial questions will be at a difficulty appropriate for learners in that curriculum year, although the teacher can override this where necessary if a learner is working at a level significantly below their curriculum year. Subsequent texts and questions are selected from the bank based on the learner’s answers to the previous questions. For example, if a learner is presented with a text and 3 associated questions, the system will evaluate the responses they have given and then select a more challenging text and group of questions or an easier text and group of questions as appropriate.

It is important to note that learners cannot go back once they have moved on to the next question.

Timing

Learners will work at their own pace, and the length of an assessment will typically be about 35 to 45 minutes.

Familiarisation assessments

Familiarisation assessments are provided for staff to use with learners prior to taking the assessment. There are 3 familiarisation assessments: Years 2 to 3, Years 4 to 6 and Years 7 to 9.

Each familiarisation assessment contains one text and a range of questions, which include examples of each of the question types used in the personalised assessments. A sentence completion question is included in the familiarisation assessments for Years 2 to 3 and Years 4 to 6.

It is very important that you spend time familiarising learners with these assessments so that when they take an assessment it provides the best information on their skills.

Familiarisation assessments may be accessed at any time. They should be taken shortly before a personalised assessment (though not necessarily in the same lesson due to time constraints and in case learners become tired).

The questions are presented in a fixed order to enable staff to talk a whole class through a familiarisation assessment, for example by reading the text and the questions together, and discussing the answers and how to respond.

Requirements for learners following the Welsh programme of study

Learners in Year 2 who are following the Welsh programme of study are required to take the Welsh Reading personalised assessments only. Learners following the Welsh programme of study in Year 3 are required to take the Welsh Reading personalised assessment; for these learners the English Reading personalised assessment are also available as an option. Learners in Years 4 to 9 who are following the Welsh programme of study are required to take both the Welsh and English Reading personalised assessments.

When scheduling an assessment for learners, staff members select English or Welsh Reading personalised assessments as appropriate.

Facilitating a Reading personalised assessment

Before the assessment has started, staff members should remind learners of the key features of the assessments and remind them of the following.

  • They may have sentence completion questions and these may not be at the start of the assessment.
  • When they have a text to read, they should read it carefully before they move on to the questions.
  • There will be an instruction to use the ‘Next’ button to answer the questions after the learners have read the text.
  • The questions (other than the sentence completion questions) will appear with a button that can be used to open the reading text so learners can refer back to it.
  • Learners can select the ‘X’ button to close the text.
  • If the text covers a question the text can be dragged to one side to view the question again.
  • Learners cannot have texts or questions read to them as this is an assessment of reading.
  • The length of the assessment is not a reflection of the learner's ability and learners should work at their own pace. The assessments will be about 40 minutes, but this will vary depending on how fast the learner works and how many texts and questions they receive.

The assessments have been designed with learners’ access in mind; it is expected that nearly all learners will be able to access them without special arrangements. However, where accessible versions are needed the assessments have been devised to meet the widest possible range of access needs, and to work with a wide range of commonly used access technologies and usual access arrangements. Where possible, learners should be provided with support to access the assessments in the same way as it is provided to them in day-to-day classroom practice for computer-based working.

Enlarged versions

The personalised assessments have been designed to work with the magnification tools available within learner devices (for example Windows Magnifier, or using the browser zoom function). These should be used in the way that the learner uses them in normal classroom practice. An enlarged version will probably require additional scrolling which the learner may need support with when using browser zoom (Magnifier automatically scrolls if using mouse navigation). The assessments are designed so that a prompt is given when scrolling is required. For further guidance on using the magnification tools, please see the user guide on the assessment website.

Colour and contrast changes

When scheduling an assessment for a learner it is possible for a staff member to select from a range of different colour and contrast options. The colour and contrast selected should be in line with what the learner uses every day in the classroom.

If this set-up is not suitable for the learner, then it is possible to use colour overlays on the computer or laptop screen (though not on a tablet device) or for the learner to use coloured filter lenses. Again, the approach selected should reflect the approach used in normal classroom practice for the learner.

Using screen readers

The Numeracy (Procedural) and Numeracy (Reasoning) personalised assessments have been designed to be compatible with dedicated screen readers and have been tested with the latest versions of JAWS (Job Access With Speech) screen reader.. Alt text has been added to the images where this is appropriate.

A screen reader should be used in line with the usual classroom practice for the learner.

A screen reader cannot be used with the Reading personalised assessments because this is an assessment of the learner’s reading.

Use of tactile diagrams

A small number of the questions in the Numeracy (Procedural) personalised assessments require the use of tactile diagrams. It has been necessary to include these to ensure curriculum coverage for learners who are using screen readers or having the assessments read by a staff member or other adult. The booklet of tactile diagrams should be made available to the learner when taking the assessment. The learner will only need to use the booklet if one of the questions requiring a diagram is selected by the system. If this occurs, the learner may need support in locating the correct diagram.

Copies of the booklet of tactile diagrams can be obtained by contacting the Assessment Helpdesk on 029 2026 5099 or help@personalisedassessments.wales.

Braille reading booklets

For those learners with visual impairments whose usual classroom practice is to use Braille materials for reading, hard copy Braille materials are available. For the Reading personalised assessments, the Braille booklets include the texts and the questions. The assessment system will prompt the learner as to which text and questions to use. The answers must be inputted into the assessment system so that the system can select the next appropriate text and questions. It is likely that a scribe will need to be used to input the learner’s answers into the assessment system.

The Braille booklets are available in grade 1 and grade 2 Braille. Copies of the booklets can be obtained by contacting the Assessment Helpdesk on 029 2026 5099 or help@personalisedassessments.wales.

Use of sign language

In the Numeracy (Procedural) and Numeracy (Reasoning) personalised assessments any question or instruction can be signed to the learner. Sign language versions of the assessments are not provided owing to the wide range of sign languages in common use in schools. The learner’s usual sign language support can be used to sign text to the learner. You may sign all or part of any question and record the learner’s sign language responses if appropriate, and if this is usual classroom practice.

For Numeracy (Reasoning) where audio narration supports the on-screen content, printable scripts are available to access and/or download for signing to learners.

In the Reading personalised assessments, only the instructions can be signed to the learners. Texts and questions cannot be read to the learner as this is an assessment of the learner’s reading skills.

Scribes

Scribes may be used for learners who would normally receive this type of support in a classroom setting or have the need for a scribe as a result of a recent impairment. A scribe should only be used to support a learner who:

  • uses Braille
  • is physically unable to use a keyboard
  • has a motor impairment or experiences physical or mental discomfort when typing responses

Readers

Any question or instruction in the Numeracy (Procedural) and Numeracy (Reasoning) personalised assessments can be read to the learner.

In the Reading personalised assessments, only the instructions can be read to the learners. Texts and questions cannot be read to the learner as this is an assessment of the learner’s reading skills.

Changing the assessment starting point

The assessments are personalised, which means the assessment system will select a text or a question to present to a learner based on their response to the previous questions. This means that the assessment will adapt to the learner’s ability level.

The first question in an assessment is determined by the learner’s current national curriculum year group. It is possible for the teacher to override the starting question difficulty, to make it easier than would normally be presented to learners in their national curriculum year. The override is available to the teacher in the assessment website when scheduling an assessment for a learner.

Note that for learners in Year 2 the starting point in the Numeracy (Procedural) and Numeracy (Reasoning) personalised assessments is one of the easiest questions in the bank. For the Reading personalised assessments there are a number of easy texts and questions in the bank aimed at learners who are finding it difficult to access Year 2 reading skills in the LNF.

For learners unable to access these questions, it may be inappropriate to proceed with the assessment. Teachers should use their professional judgement and consider the disapplication guidance detailed below. 

As a statutory part of the assessment framework, the personalised assessments have been designed to allow as many learners as possible to have access to them and there is an expectation that nearly all learners will take them. Staff are able to change the level of difficulty for the start of each assessment, where they consider it appropriate. There may, however, be a small number of learners who are unable to access the assessments, even with modifications in place.

Also, in this academic year, following disruptions caused by COVID-19, there may be some learners, mainly but not exclusively in Year 2, who are not yet working at the level of the easiest questions in the bank for one or more of the personalised assessments. Schools have responsibility to identify learners who they consider unable to work at the level of the easiest questions in the personalised assessments question bank or who are unable to access the assessments with modifications in place.

The decision that a learner should not take the personalised assessments is for the headteacher to make. When making a decision the headteacher must:

  • have regard to this statutory guidance
  • have considered whether any of the access arrangements would support the learner to access the personalised assessments

It is not necessary for headteachers to make a direction disapplying the national curriculum in order to do this.

All disapplication decisions must be made individually. For example, a learner disapplied from the Numeracy (Procedural) personalised assessment is not automatically disapplied from either the Numeracy (Reasoning) personalised assessment or the Reading personalised assessment.

The requirement for headteachers to maintain a list of disapplications is removed for this academic year (2021 to 2022) in order to minimise any administrative burden. However, if requested by their consortia or local authority, headteachers should be able to explain the grounds for the number of disapplications in their school, with regard to the guidance in this handbook.

Disapplication on well-being grounds

Following the return to on-site learning, schools will want to be flexible in their response to individual learner needs and well-being. Taking a personalised assessment should not be a cause of anxiety for any learner. In the current circumstances, teachers may decide that there are instances where they believe a learner’s well-being would be adversely affected. In this academic year therefore, the headteacher may continue to make decisions for disapplication on well-being grounds, if they judge them appropriate. The decision should be made on an individual learner basis, and not for whole classes or year groups.

Learners who cannot access the personalised assessments even with modifications

Some learners’ additional learning or other needs will be sufficiently significant or severe that, in the view of the headteacher, they will not be able to access the personalised assessments even with full use of the modified personalised assessments and the access arrangements available.

This is particularly likely to be the case for learners with severe learning difficulties or profound and multiple learning difficulties. Headteachers may therefore determine that such learners are not required to take the personalised assessments.

Learners for whom relevant sections of the national curriculum have been disapplied

Some learners may have a statement of SEN (as provided for in section 113 of the Education Act 2002) or an individual development plan (IDP – as provided for in section 41 of the Additional Learning Needs and Education Tribunal (Wales) Act 2018) which modifies or disapplies some or all of the national curriculum. In addition, under sections 113 to 116 of the Education Act 2002, headteachers may temporarily disapply the national curriculum for a particular learner if, for the time being, it is inappropriate to offer the national curriculum as it currently applies to them. Where such a disapplication has an effect on the literacy and/or numeracy elements of the curriculum such that the learner’s ability to access the personalised assessments would be adversely affected, the headteacher may determine that that learner need not take them.

Learners entering from different education systems and whose ability to access the personalised assessments cannot be established

Due to the facility to adjust the starting question of the assessments, and their year-round availability, it is unlikely that a school would consider disapplication on this basis. However, if a school does not have time to determine a learner’s ability to access the personalised assessments before the end of the school year, for example because they have recently arrived from a different education system, the headteacher may determine that a learner need not take personalised assessments during that school year. This provision applies for that year’s personalised assessments only.

Disapplication in relation to learners with English as an additional language or Welsh as an additional language (EAL/WAL)

Disapplication would be appropriate for relatively few EAL/WAL learners. Headteachers who take this option must be willing and able to explain their decision to their regional consortium or local authority and to the learner’s parents/carers. When making a decision the headteacher must have:

  • regard to this statutory guidance
  • considered whether any of the access arrangements would support the learner to access the personalised assessments

Learners who are new to the UK education system

Learners from a non-English-based or non-Welsh-based education system (NEWBES) may not be disapplied from the personalised assessments solely for this reason. The personalised assessments are for formative use and therefore all learners must take them unless they cannot access them, or the school cannot assess their ability to do so.

To consider a learner as NEWBES, the following criteria must be satisfied:

  • the learner’s first language is not English or Welsh
  • the learner has arrived from a non-English- or non-Welsh-based education system
  • the learner entered a United Kingdom (UK) education system on or after the start of the 2020 to 2021 school year (1 September 2020)