A teaching union has voted to explore ways of disrupting and stopping the government’s plans to introduce the baseline assessment for children in reception.
The DfE’s overhaul of primary assessment includes plans to assess children shortly after they enter reception, to provide a starting point to measure their progress during their time in primary school.
It is due to be piloted in 2019, before being rolled out nationally the following year.
The NUT section of the National Education Union today called for a “major campaign aimed at encouraging schools not to take part in the pilot of the baseline assessment in September 2019, using industrial action if necessary”.
Katharine Lindenberg, of Waltham Forest, said: “The government has announced, despite abandoning baseline tests for four-year-olds in 2016, they plan to make them statutory by 2020.
“Baseline tests will be given to four-year-olds in the first weeks of reception. They are unnecessary, they are pointless, they are expensive and above all they are damaging, and they are immoral.”
She added: “They will become data, that is what baseline testing is all about.”
A motion passed by delegates calls for an indicative survey of the union's members in all primary and infant schools to identify individual schools where “formal industrial action ballots might be successful as part of the campaign to stop the baseline pilot going ahead”.
The attempt to disrupt the baseline pilots in 2019 is linked to the union’s wider campaign against SATs, which the motion says aims “to create the best possible conditions for a successful challenge to the system of primary assessment in 2019 and 2020, including ballots for industrial action”.
Alex Kenny, a member of the NUT executive, said the strategy was to “pile pressure on heads and governors to say that they won’t take part, they won’t volunteer to take part in baseline in 2019”.
He added: “But if that pressure doesn’t work, we will combine it with ballots. We will conduct indicative ballots so that we can identify the schools and areas where we can use industrial action if heads say they will go ahead with the pilot.”
Mr Kenny added: “Baseline is the bridgehead into a campaign that can sink the government’s assessment programme. If we stop baseline in 2019 we create the conditions where they can’t go back to key stage 1 SATs and then we are in a position to sink the whole testing campaign.”
He said that only one organisation had bid to deliver the baseline assessment, and that the government had delayed announcing who had won the contract.
A Department for Education spokesperson said: "Tests and teacher assessments at primary school form a fundamental part of a child's education, but they are not intended to hinder their development or cause undue stress. We trust teachers to administer tests in a way that does not put undue pressure on pupils.
"The baseline assessment is not an accountability measure and won't be published. It is purely to assess children's starting point so that we can see how well schools help children to make progress during their time at primary school."