What are basic skills?
Basic skills are defined as:
‘The ability to read, write and speak in English and use mathematics at a level necessary to function and progress at work and in society in general.’
Without good communication, literacy and mathematical skills, individuals are severely disadvantaged throughout their lives – as learners, in the workplace and as parents, consumers and citizens.
Underattainment and underachievement
The terms underattainment and underachievement are used in some of the Primary Quality Mark elements.
Underattainment means where a pupil performs in literacy and/or mathematics at a lower level than the attainment expected for a pupil of their age.
Underachievement means where a pupil performs at a lower level than their potential. An underachiever may be a high-attaining pupil who does less well than their potential.
The national agenda
The Primary Quality Mark complements and supports the principles underpinning the national strategies, the inspection framework and the drive to improve standards in literacy and mathematics. It is also consistent with the Every Child Matters agenda.
Benefits of the Primary Quality Mark
A school working towards the award will find that it adds value to their current teaching and learning in literacy and mathematics, and supports improved outcomes for learners.
The Primary Quality Mark is an inclusive award as it can be achieved by all types and sizes of schools. It can be used as a supportive improvement framework for those needing to address issues of underattainment and/or underachievement in basic skills, or as an external validation and recognition of good practice and progress in basic skills.
The process of rigorous self-evaluation, followed by action planning and regular review to identify impact, is a key strength of the award. Primary Quality Mark work will complement and help to integrate other initiatives being undertaken to improve basic skills.
Download the Primary self-audit template.
Each school controls the timescale for making its submission. The length of time taken to achieve accreditation will vary according to a school’s starting point and its capacity to demonstrate progress.
All staff1 will be involved in helping to achieve a Primary Quality Mark but there are particular continuing professional development (CPD) benefits for middle and senior managers. They can develop and employ generic leadership and management skills such as auditing, action planning, monitoring and evaluating, in a practical context and with a tangible outcome.
Governing bodies will find that work undertaken to achieve and sustain a Primary Quality Mark offers a practical context in which to monitor and evaluate the quality of provision and educational standards in their schools. This will demonstrate how governors are actively carrying out their ‘critical friend’ role and offers opportunities to work with staff.
Achieving a Primary Quality Mark offers valuable public recognition and ‘a pat on the back’ for staff for their day-to-day work of teaching literacy and mathematics. It celebrates the work of the whole school community in making progress in improving the quality of its provision for basic skills.
One benefit of working towards the award is that it encourages networking to share good practice in basic skills.
1 Staff includes all those adults working in a school who are involved in helping children to learn or to improve basic skills, not only those with Qualified Teacher Status.