Schools were invited today to sign up for the voluntary pilot of the Reception baseline assessment, which starts this autumn.
Schools will be able to sign up for the pilot from Friday. The test which will assess 4- and 5-year-olds in language, communication and literacy, and early maths, as they begin in Reception year. The results will be used as a starting point to measure how children have progressed between Reception and Year 6.
But the controversial assessment has been threatened with disruption, with the NUT section of the NEU teaching union voting at its conference last year to explore ways of stopping the 2019 pilot.
Quick read: NfER will develop the baseline assessment
The government awarded the £9.8 million contract to develop the baseline assessment to the National Foundation for Educational Research (NfER), which ran trials in selected schools last autumn.
The baseline assessment consists of interactive and practical activities. It takes about 20 minutes to carry out and can be administered at any time within the first six weeks of children starting Reception classes.
While there has been opposition from the NEU and the More than a Score parents’ campaign group, the two headteachers' unions, the Association of School and College Leaders and the NAHT, have supported the new assessment on the understanding that it would be a "light touch" check.
The government has said that if the baseline assessment did become statutory in 2020, as planned, key stage 1 Sats, which are currently used to measure progress through primary school, would be scrapped from 2022-23.
School-standards minister Nick Gibb said: “The Reception baseline assessment is a hugely important step forward in ensuring that we can fairly and accurately measure how effectively schools are helping children to progress, while helping to reduce the burden of assessment for teachers.
“This is an opportunity for schools to familiarise themselves with this new assessment, and help us make sure it works for children and teachers ahead of its scheduled statutory introduction in autumn 2020.”