Baseline assessment: four-year-olds prepare to march

Petition with 65,000 signatures to be handed in to Downing Street by preschoolers

Helen Ward

early years

Young children are to march to Downing Street in protest at the plans for a Reception baseline assessment.

The protest, dubbed 'March of the four-year-olds', is being organised by campaign group More than a Score for Thursday 25 April. 

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A group of four-year-olds will be handing in the group’s petition, signed by more than 65,000 people, which calls on schools minister Nick Gibb to abandon the baseline assessment saying it is “pointless and damaging”.

The Reception baseline assessment is a test of the maths and language skills of four- and five-year-olds as they start school in Reception year.

The test will take about 20 minutes. It will consist of a set of tasks using objects such as plastic shapes and picture cards. The children’s results will be recorded online by their teacher.

The scores will be used to set a baseline for a progress measure, which will show how children have progressed between Reception and Year 6.

There will be a ‘narrative statement’ fed back to teachers, but teachers will not be given individual scores. There is no pass mark.

Schools have been invited to take part in the voluntary pilot of the assessment this September.

The test is due to become mandatory in September 2020.

A More than a Score spokesperson said: “The government has refused to listen to teachers, parents and early education experts, all of whom agree: testing four-year-olds within the first few weeks of starting school makes no sense. So we’re bringing the message directly to Westminster with the help of those who will be affected the most: children who will be starting school as these pointless and damaging plans are rolled out.

“We are still waiting for the government to provide any evidence that four-year-olds can be reliably tested. Now over 65,000 people agree that this absurd plan should be halted in its tracks.”

The march will begin at Parliament Square at 12pm and end at 10 Downing Street at 1pm.

A Department for Education spokesperson said: “Schools should be accountable for the progress of all their pupils, throughout their time at primary school, and the reception baseline will help to provide a starting point to measure how well the school supports children to succeed.

“There is no pass mark, it is a short, interactive assessment ‎that will help teachers understand how best to support children. Many schools already carry out assessments like this.

‎”We have invited schools who are interested to pilot the assessment and help us make sure it works for children and teachers before its full introduction in autumn 2020.”


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Helen Ward

Helen Ward

Helen Ward is a reporter at Tes

Find me on Twitter @teshelen

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