Baseline Testing

The DfE announced last week another U-turn in assessment policy. Baseline Assessment of reception children has been abandoned as an accountability measure.

This is a victory for the campaign which brought together the NUT, the ATL, early years organisations and parents' groups. The last 12 months of petitions, street stalls, research and argument have produced a great result, which will benefit teachers and pupils alike.

The private companies which sold Baseline Assessment systems to schools will now be trying to persuade teachers to carry on using their tests and observation schedules, on a voluntary basis. The Union believes that there is no good reason for schools to do this. Research from the UCL Institute of Education, commissioned by the NUT and ATL, showed that over 90 per cent of teachers did not think Baseline Assessment was a fair and accurate way of assessing children. Teachers emphasised that they already had a well-proven method to hand, the Early Years Foundation Stage Profile.

The DfE is now "considering options for improving assessment arrangements", through discussion with stakeholders. The Union welcomes the opportunity to participate in such discussions. We believe in developing forms of assessment which support children's learning needs. Baseline Assessment, with its focus on school accountability, was an entirely inappropriate means of doing this, and the confusion of accountability and assessment must not be repeated.

Teachers and parents who are angry and dismayed at the fiasco of assessment at KS1 and KS2 will take heart from the Government's U-turn on Baseline. There is wide support for a movement against primary testing, which the Union is now working to build.

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