‘Pointless’ baseline assessment pilot for four-year-olds announced by Government

The joint Local Secretary of the National Education Union says it’s self-evident that baseline testing of four-year-olds is a waste of teachers’ time, public money and that data produced will not be rigorous or robust.

young girl sitting on large number four

Peter shares this latest news on behalf of National Education Union. Ed

In 2018 the National Foundation for Educational Research (NFER) became the preferred supplier to design and deliver the new tests to four-year-olds.

The intention being to trial them this September and then make them statutory in September 2020.

Last week Schools Minister Nick Gibb announced that the Department for Education (DfE) will be looking for schools to take part in a pilot scheme for the proposed baseline assessment tests.

Shreeve: Misleading statement from Minister
Peter Shreeve, Joint Local Secretary of the National Education Union, said:

“Schools Minister Nick Gibb claims that making all four-year-olds take a baseline test as soon as they enter school will provide a ‘fair and accurate measure’ of their attainment.

“This is misleading. We believe it will disrupt the settling-in process for children and place an additional workload burden on reception teachers and support staff at the start of the year.

“Mr Gibb was told last year by an expert panel of the British Educational Research Association (BERA) that testing four-year-olds will not produce reliable results. BERA maintains the tests are flawed, unjustified, and wholly unfit for purpose. They would be detrimental to all.”

Shreeve: Play is essential
He went on to say,

“Will testing four-year-olds achieve its aim? Will it succeed in reducing all pupil complexity and diversity, not to mention the contradictions embodied within four year olds to a single number? A single number to be used to predict children’s progress across seven years of schooling!

“Or will it label some pupils as low attainers, narrow the primary curriculum and decrease the opportunities for learning through play? We maintain play is essential. It is the main and best way, in which younger children do their thinking and learning.”

Shreeve: “Baseline testing is a waste of teachers’ time”
Peter added,

“Thus, it is self-evident that baseline testing is a waste of teachers’ time, public money and that data produced will not be rigorous or robust. It is impossible to decide with certainty what a child of four can or cannot do, because they are affected by so many other contextual factors.

“The Government should listen to what teachers, school leaders and education experts are saying: it is time that they stopped thinking that the answer to problems of assessment and accountability is to introduce new tests.

“Given the workload crisis and the inadequacy of this test, we hope schools locally and nationally will not sign up to Mr Gibb’s pointless pilot, and the NEU will support them in that decision.”

Image: criminalintent under CC BY 2.0

Tuesday, 5th March, 2019 11:46am


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2 Comments on "‘Pointless’ baseline assessment pilot for four-year-olds announced by Government"

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Just shows how out of touch the government and the latest education minister are. Any money wasted on this pointless scheme would be better spent on making proper financial provision for the schools which are desperately starved of adequate funding. But then, that is this government all over, starving everyone of money from local authorities to the police and the health service and still expecting everyone to… Read more »
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Just ignore it. What are they going to do if no one complies on the island, close all the schools? Sack all the teachers?