The More Than a Score coalition, of which Early Education is an active member, has issued the following comments on the news that the DfE has awarded NFER, the National Foundation for Educational Research, the £10 million contract to develop the Baseline Assessment of all four year olds in England.
Baseline Assessment in various guises has been repeatedly introduced and failed. Reintroducing it is an expensive and pointless exercise which only serves to damage children’s education and wellbeing.
There is no research evidence that four year olds can be reliably tested; the government has certainly not produced any. The score that the Baseline test produces will not be a true picture of what children can do – yet it will be used to judge schools seven years later to assess whether they have enabled children to make enough progress
By focusing almost exclusively on literacy and numeracy, the proposed baseline assessment will force a narrowing of the curriculum to these areas. This is counterproductive, as young children will not develop these skills without developing their oral language, physical development and having rich experiences across the curriculum to engage their love of learning and understanding of the world around them. Teachers around the country are already telling us how they are being pressured to teach in ways that are not in children’s best interests.
Baseline Assessment is doomed to fail again. In the interests of children and their schools, More Than a Score will be working to make sure this happens sooner rather than later.
More Than a Score is an alliance of parents, teachers and educational experts that opposes our current system of primary assessment. It aims to make sure that plans for Baseline Assessment will be scrutinised, criticised and rejected.
Early Education (The British Association for Early Childhood Education) is the leading independent national charity for early years practitioners and parents, campaigning for the right of all children to education of the highest quality. Founded in 1923, it has members in England, Northern Ireland, Scotland and Wales and provides a national voice on matters that relate to effective early childhood education and care of young children from birth to eight. The organisation supports the professional development of practitioners through publications, training, conferences, seminars and access to a national and regional branch network. For more information on the work of Early Education visit www.early-education.org.uk