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.
16th January 2019
Primary school leaders will soon be faced with a dilemma. The government will be encouraging them to join a trial run of tests on four-year-olds starting school next September. Should they go along with baseline assessment as a trade-off for removing statutory testing at the end of Key Stage One? Or would this be swapping one nightmare for another, and storing up big problems for the future?