This Autumn, four-year-olds across England will be assessed within a few weeks of starting school. Instead of learning all that school has to offer, they will be given test questions in English and maths. As baseline assessment rolls out, test results will be used to judge schools against each each other.

The government hasn’t produced any evidence that four-year-olds can be reliably tested. And how can it? Anyone who has – or works with – four-year-olds knows that one size most definitely doesn’t fit all. Small children develop social and cognitive skills at very different rates and every day will give a different snap-shot of their abilities.

The tests will be particularly difficult for children with special educational needs, a Summer birthday, or who do not have English as their first language: they will sit the same tests as everyone else in their class.

These standardised tests make no sense. They won’t provide any useful information about a child’s ability or potential for future achievement. Experts agree that they’re a pointless and damaging waste of £10 million, particularly at a time when schools face serious funding challenges. The British Educational Research Association has described the proposals as “flawed, unjustified and totally unfit for purpose”. Durham University’s centre for evaluation and monitoring (CEM) — who have been involved in previous baseline trials  — have condemned the plans as “verging on the immoral”.

We all know that our children are More Than A Score. Reception year should be an exciting, reassuring introduction to the joy of learning through play. It should stimulate children’s curiosity and build their self-confidence. It should not include tests that ignore all that four-year-olds can do and turn them into data points.

We have prepared a dossier bringing together the case against the introduction of baseline reception with arguments from academics and experts. You can read more here.

Add your voice to call a halt to the tests for children in reception.


10th September 2018

An open letter: testing four-year-olds is “pointless and damaging”

Over 700 academics and experts signed an open letter to the government urging them to re-consider baseline assessment.


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20th September 2018

Say “no” to tests for four-year-olds

Children in reception should be learning through play, not sitting tests.


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