From September 2020, four-year-olds across England were due to be tested in English and maths within six weeks of starting school, with the results used to judge schools against each other. The Reception Baseline Assessment (RBA) has now been delayed until September 2021 thanks to a campaign by the More Than A Score coalition of parents, teachers, headteachers and education experts.
More Than A Score’s opposition to the pointless and harmful testing of four-year-olds is based on professional understanding of this age group. Anyone working with four-year-olds knows that one size most definitely doesn’t fit all. Small children develop social and cognitive skills at varying rates, with each day giving a different snapshot of their abilities.
Not only that, standardised tests would be significantly more difficult for those with special educational needs, or a summer birthday, or for whom English isn’t their first language. Yet they’d sit the same tests as everyone else in their class.
This is why education experts agree that Baseline testing simply doesn’t provide any useful information about a child’s ability or potential. Indeed, the British Educational Research Association specifically describes the proposals as “flawed, unjustified and totally unfit for purpose”. Durham University’s Centre for Evaluation and Monitoring, which was involved in previous Baseline trials, condemns the plans as “verging on the immoral”.
Reception year should be an exciting and 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 everything four-year-olds can do and turn them into data points.
Our children are More Than A Score. Add your voice to calling a halt to testing four-year-olds in reception year.
If you’d like further information on the case against the introduction of Reception Baseline Assessment, see the arguments from academics and experts here.
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