Baseline: Number of schools keen to trial test halves

3,878 schools signed up as “early adopters” for Reception baseline assessment, compared with the 9,657 that took part in previous year’s pilot

Amy Gibbons

Primary school pupil

The number of primary and infant schools expressing an interest in trialling the controversial new baseline assessment for four- and five-year-olds before it becomes statutory has fallen by more than half, new figures reveal.

And more than a quarter of schools that signed up to the Department for Education’s (DFE) “early adopter” project appeared to later withdraw from the scheme.

Statistics published by the DfE today show that 3,878 schools signed up to receive materials for the Reception baseline assessment (RBA) “early adopter” year in 2020. 

This compares with 9,657 schools that signed up for the RBA pilot in 2019.

It represents nearly a 60 per cent drop in the number of schools expressing an interest in trialling the assessment.


Related: Quarter of baseline pilot schools had incomplete tests

Baseline: Almost 200 schools drop out of pilot

Study: Pupils 'scared' of baseline tests, say teachers

Need to know: Reception baseline assessment


It was initially planned that the RBA would become statutory in autumn 2020. However this was delayed by a year owing to the Covid crisis.

Instead, schools were told they could sign up for an optional “early adopter year”, to “familiarise themselves with assessment materials”, with tests taking place in the second half of the autumn term.

The DfE’s 2019 pilot was intended to provide an opportunity for schools to familiarise themselves with the format of the assessment, and for the government to make sure it worked for children and teachers before it became statutory.

Of the 9,657 schools that had signed up to the pilot by early April last year, just 7,046 (73 per cent) had completed assessments by 25 October 2019 for all their pupils registered on the system.

The proportion of schools appearing to drop out of the project has risen slightly in the “early adopter” scheme.

During the summer term 2020, 3,878 schools signed up to receive materials for the early-adopter year but, in the autumn, only 2,980 schools had logged into the baseline ePortal (BeP) and just 2,731 carried out assessments with their pupils.

In total, 88,947 pupils completed the assessment last summer.

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Amy Gibbons

Amy Gibbons

Amy Gibbons is a reporter at Tes

Find me on Twitter @tweetsbyames

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