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Baseline assessment guidance

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Friday, 27 February, 2015

Early Education and TACTYC have reviewed the six baseline schemes accredited by the Department for Education, and our considered recommendation remains that schools should not introduce a baseline scheme at all, on the grounds that:

  • The best interests of the child are not served by baseline test schemes. 
  • Judgements of school effectiveness derived from baseline will not be relevant until 2022/3; given the changes subject to government policy, current intentions on baseline-based judgements may well be obsolete by then.
  • It will still be necessary to maintain a much broader EYFS assessment. Ofsted school reports contain a specific judgement based on implementation of the EYFS, which includes observational assessment, involving parents, and knowing where children are and supporting progress across all areas of learning and development and the characteristics of effective learning.
  • There are a number of uncertainties in the pilot year, including unresolved issues about comparability of data between schemes.  Any chosen scheme might be withdrawn if it does not gather at least 10% of the market. 
  • There are ethical issues in using a baseline scheme which does not enable all children to show their full capabilities.

Nevertheless, we recognise that many headteachers feel under pressure to introduce a scheme, and we have therefore reviewed all six schemes strengths and weaknesses against the principles of good assessment practice in the EYFS.  The results can be found in our downloadable guidance:

Chief Executive of Early Education, Beatrice Merrick said "It is wrong that school leaders are being pressured to adopt assessment practices in their schools which are not in the best interests of children.  Ministers must urgently rethink this policy and demonstrate their commitment to the sound early years principles which underlie the Early Years Foundation Stage curriculum.  Accountability of schools is an important principle, but the proposed baseline assessment tests are not a sound, effective or valuable means of showing how schools meet the needs of their children."

Jane Payler, Chair of TACTYC, said: ""The overriding concern must be to ensure excellent quality early years provision for young children around the time of school entry. Any measures of accountability that threaten such provision must be resisted."

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