They also argued that it was “an absurdity” to believe that pupils as young as 4 could be reliably tested.
“Parents are going to worry about the baseline tests, even when their children are younger than 4,” said Julie Dunford, director of the Family Learning School in South London, who attended the march with some of her pupils (currently on Easter holiday).
“Parents will be feeling the pressure to have their children learning literacy and numeracy from the age of 2 or 3.”
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Teachers, parents and pupils attended the protest, billed "The march of the four-year-olds". They walked to 10 Downing Street, where a small group of four-year-olds and their parents presented a petition with more than 68,000 signatures against the baseline assessment
Angela Roy, a former primary teacher, was on the protest with her four-year-old daughter.
“This is just one of the reasons I left teaching,” she said. “We have Year 6 Sats, Year 2 Sats, the phonics test, and now this one leading us down a path that’s not conducive to good learning.”
Alison Ali from march organisers the More Than a Score campaign group said: “The government policy is totally out of step with what headteachers, teachers, experts and parents want.
“It’s an absurdity to believe that you can reliably test four-year-olds, and it’s simply a really rubbish way for four-year-olds to have their introduction to Reception class, to starting school.”
One of the parents addressing the crowd before the march agreed. She said: “How on earth can you get any kind of reliable data out of a four-year-old? I mean, they’re four years old. Have they not met a four-year-old?
"One day, you’ll ask them ‘what’s two plus two?’ and they’ll say ‘four’, the next day, ‘Bananas’. It’s just an absolute nonsense.”
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 scores will be used to set a baseline for a progress measure, which will show how children have progressed between Reception and Year 6.
A Department for Education spokesperson said: “The Reception baseline assessment is not a test. It does not have a pass mark, and there is no reason for parents or teachers to prepare pupils ahead of the assessment, which has been carefully designed with children in mind.
“Carried out in the right way, children should not even be aware an assessment is taking place. It will simply provide a vital starting point to measure how well primary schools are doing to make sure all children reach their potential.”