The early years foundation stage profile, due to be scrapped as a mandatory assessment measure, will remain statutory for the next academic year, it has emerged today.
An email from the Standards and Testing Agency (STA) sent to school staff today, weeks after they have broken up for the summer holidays, tells leaders that “having looked carefully” at “particular issues”, teachers must still carry out the assessment for pupils in reception.
It comes after the fiasco with the introduction of the baseline test, a reception on-entry test designed to track pupil progress through to the end of key stage 2, which was due to become statutory from next month.
But the baseline test was scrapped as an accountability measure in April by the Department for Education (DfE) after it was found there was “no comparability” between the three chosen providers.
The STA said today that schools should continue to complete the early years foundation stage profile (EYFSP) in the summer term, and that the decision would “provide continuity and stability”.
The email stated this action would enable the STA to “take the time to review options for assessment in the reception year beyond 2016 to 2017”.
But the decision has provoked criticism, particularly around its timing. Deputy headteacher Michael Tidd tweeted: “DfE incompetence shocks me most in its ability to constantly shock me! Just astounding.”
Neil Leitch, chief executive of the Pre-school Learning Alliance, added: “This announcement provides at least some clarity for practitioners and teachers preparing for the new term, although it is disappointing and frustrating that it has come in the middle of the summer holidays.”
It has also been reported that thousands of schools were planning to use baseline to assess their pupils next year, and the DfE said it would fund them to do so.
A DfE spokesperson said today’s decision was not a “long-term policy direction” but merely a “delay”. He added: “We recognise that this clarification comes during the summer break but we wanted to confirm as soon as possible the position for local authorities, schools and others ready for the start of the new term.”
The government decision follows a campaign by early years experts to reinstate the early years profile.
A letter issued to the DfE by the Better without Baseline campaign group read: “Although no assessment tool is perfect, the EYFSP remains a widely respected, meaningful and practical assessment, and should be retained at least until a clear, principled and effective improvement can be introduced.”
The full STA email can be seen below in full.