Greening: New “teacher-mediated” baseline tests for 4-year-olds

Reception pupils will once again face a “baseline assessment” when entering school, Justine Greening has announced, two years after the government climbed-down over its failed policy to bring in such tests.

A “teacher-mediated assessment”, which simply means the teacher will be present, will be rolled out in the first year of school from 2020, according to the government’s response to a primary assessment consultation.

The check will be developed “in conjunction with the teaching profession”, and aims to give “credit” to the work and progress achieved by teachers for their pupils, said a government press release.

Speculation has surrounded the baseline assessment since three approved providers rolled out their assessments in September 2015 only for a study to later find they were not comparable and the project was effectively cancelled although schools could still opt to take part.

One provider, Early Excellence, developed an observation-based model of assessment which was favoured by the majority of primary schools.

The other two, Durham University’s Centre for Evaluation and Monitoring, and the National Foundation for Education Research’s centre for assessment, created test-based models.

It is not clear from today’s announcement what kind of assessment any future test will be.

Kevin Courtney, joint general secretary of the National Education Union, said the reception baseline assessment would be “of no educational benefit to children” and “broke the promise” by the government not to increase the assessment burden on primary schools.

“These tests will be a waste of valuable time, energy and money and should not be introduced.”

But Julie McCulloch, primary specialist at the Association of School and College Leaders, said a new baseline assessment in reception was “good for children and schools” because “schools will be given credit for a pupil’s progress through their whole time at primary school from the age of four to 11, instead of the current system which measures progress only from the age of seven.”


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  1. Sara Tomlinson

    There is no accurate way to test 4 year olds that shows progress to year 6 and I’m sure ASCL know this. This will be flawed data and yet it will be used in high stakes comparisons.