Baseline: Almost 200 schools drop out of pilot

EXCLUSIVE: Reception baseline assessment is being piloted - but some schools have changed their minds about taking part

Helen Ward

Early years: the Reception baseline assessment is being piloted in primary schools

Almost 200 schools had already dropped out of the Reception baseline assessment pilot before it began this term.

More than 9,600 schools signed up to take part in a pilot of the controversial assessment earlier this year.

But a reply to a freedom of information request by Tes reveals that 178 schools have since withdrawn from the pilot.

The Reception baseline assessment is designed to assess four- and five-year-old children in maths and language, communication and literacy when they start in Reception.

The assessment, which is due to become statutory next year, is designed to provide a starting point for measuring progress from Reception to Year 6. Teachers will not be given the child’s score, but instead will get a "narrative statement" about each child’s performance.

Reception baseline assessment 'a waste of time'

Each assessment will take about 20 minutes and will involve teachers giving children tasks using plastic shapes or picture cards and recording the children’s responses.

But opponents say the assessment is “unreliable” and “a waste of time”.

In May, the government announced that 9,612 primary and infant schools had signed up for the optional pilot study of baseline assessments, being carried out this term – 57 per cent of those eligible.

But in the past six months, scores have changed their minds and some headteachers have taken to Twitter to explain why.

Reception Baseline Pilot #Edutwitter #EYFS
I signed up to this several months ago because:
1. We do a baseline anyway
2. I have piloted other things in the past as I like to know what's going on
3. I try to be open minded
Today I have cancelled my sign-up to the trial 1/2

— Head-for-something🙋🏻‍♀️ (@Headfornothing1) May 30, 2019

...because there is not one thing I have seen or read about it that makes me think it is a good idea.
• no data for schools
• no characteristics of learning
• no leuwen
• no use
Anyone convince me otherwise before my mind is fully closed?

— Head-for-something🙋🏻‍♀️ (@Headfornothing1) May 30, 2019


I opted in. They sent the stuff this week. I have decided to now opt out and sent withdrawal email. They will collect the box of stuff in Sept. if you didn’t opt in, nothing will be sent to you ... I think.

— Sarah Alexander (@Sarah_Alexand) July 6, 2019


Opted in because I am curious and thought it would be good to see what was proposed but.... when I discovered we wouldn’t get results and they might use school results to measure progress in 7 years .. 😡😡😡😡

— Sarah Alexander (@Sarah_Alexand) July 6, 2019


We opted out too but it was delivered yesterday! Makes a good door stop I should imagine? 😳

— 𝕄𝕚𝕔𝕙𝕒𝕖𝕝𝕒: 𝕄ℂℂ𝕋 ⭐️ (@Michaela_EYFS) July 6, 2019


Nick Gibb, school standards minister, has said previously that the reception baseline assessment is a quick check of a child’s early language and ability to count which will provide important information on schools’ performance.

The DfE has said the pilot will provide an important opportunity for schools to familiarise themselves with the format and for the government to make sure it works for both children and teachers, ahead of the full roll-out next year.

Headteachers’ union the NAHT has supported the introduction of a low-stakes baseline assessment and has said that the pilot will provide feedback on whether the assessment that has been developed works for teachers and children.

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Helen Ward

Helen Ward

Helen Ward is a reporter at Tes

Find me on Twitter @teshelen

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