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Maths tests for four-year-olds are 'costly, inappropriate and flawed'

Maths teachers have called on education secretary Nicky Morgan to scrap plans to test four-year-olds, claiming the assessments are "costly, inappropriate and flawed".

The government has announced plans to introduce a baseline assessment for children at the beginning of Reception year.

But the Association of Teachers of Mathematics and the Mathematical Association have jointly written to Ms Morgan to say that the results will be "meaningless".

“Reception children will be of significantly different ages when assessed: proportionally, comparing the scores of a four-year-old with a five-year-old is akin to comparing those of a 12-year-old with a 15-year-old, which is obviously nonsense,” they said.

A score obtained from a one-off test would not reveal anything useful, they added, but would put pressure on students and schools and risk labelling children.

The cost of introducing the new assessment would be better spent on funding mathematical professional development for those working with young children, they continued.

The tests are currently being developed by outside organisations, who will submit them for approval this term. 

The government has said that children’s communication, literacy and maths skills must be tested within the first six weeks of starting school. The tests will not be adjusted for age.

A list of approved assessments will be published early next year and can be used from September 2015, despite 51 per cent of those responding to the consultation in 2013 opposing the plan. 

Although schools will not have to use an approved baseline assessment, the government has said that from 2016 they will be the only way that schools will be allowed to demonstrate how much progress pupils have made between reception and age 11.

In its response to the consultation, the government stated that many respondents supported the principle of schools being accountable for the progress of their pupils and that progress should be measured from the earliest possible point in school. 

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Tests for four-year-olds to be introduced by 2016  – 27 Mar 2014

Delay formal education until age 6 or 7, experts urge  – 12 Sep 2013

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