Exclusive: Most parents oppose Reception baseline test

Parents' views are in 'sharp contrast' to government policy, YouGov survey suggests

Amy Gibbons

Majority of parents oppose Reception baseline assessment

The majority of parents disagree with the government's controversial plans to test children as soon as they start school, research shows.

A YouGov survey found that two-thirds of parents oppose the new Reception baseline assessment (RBA) for four- and five-year-olds, which is due to be introduced in all primary schools from September this year.

The assessment, which evaluates children’s skills in English and maths, is designed to provide a baseline for the Department for Education (DfE) in measuring pupils' progress between their first weeks in school and their final Sats results in Year 6.

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A pilot was carried out in September 2019, but DfE figures revealed that more than 7,000 primary and infant schools refused to take part.

The YouGov poll of 2,028 people, carried out on behalf of campaign group More Than A Score, found that the majority of parents (65 per cent) disagree with testing children in English and maths when they first start school.

Some of the strongest opposition to the government's plans came from parents in Yorkshire, where 74 per cent of respondents disagreed with testing children at the beginning of the Reception year.

A majority of parents also opposed the baseline assessment in the North East (68 per cent) and the North West (66 per cent).

In September, a University College London study revealed that 86 per cent of primary school headteachers had negative or qualified negative views of the tests.

The RBA has also attracted widespread criticism from classroom unions, early years practitioners and assessment experts, who have raised concerns about the reliability of the test; the long timespan that the progress measure covers; the potential for children to be labelled by “ability” at a young age; and the ethics of asking teachers to carry out an assessment which will not support a child’s learning.

Nancy Stewart, from More Than A Score, said: "Parents, educators and experts all agree – testing four-year-olds makes no sense.

"It will not provide reliable information; it will not help teachers, parents or children. The government could still take the opportunity to listen to those who know best and halt these plans. It’s time to make our children more than a score."

A DfE spokesperson said: "The Reception baseline assessment is a quick check of a child's early language and counting skills to help inform teachers when they start school.  Nine in 10 schools already carry out on-entry checks.

"More than 9,000 schools took part in the Reception baseline assessment pilot and the feedback we received from school leaders was largely positive."

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Amy Gibbons

Amy Gibbons

Amy Gibbons is a reporter at Tes

Find me on Twitter @tweetsbyames

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