Under new government plans, national testing for Reception-aged children in England will be introduced from September 2016.
The purpose of the 'baseline check' is to assess each child’s level of development at the beginning of their formal schooling in order to measure how they’ve progressed by age 11. The government says the new tests will ensure higher standards and that all pupils receive the attention they deserve.
Designed to give teachers and schools a clearer picture of each child’s initial skills, the tests will help indicate a child’s ‘baseline’ abilities in very basic literacy, reasoning and cognition (how a child understands and acts in the world). The tests won’t be quite a ‘be all and end all’ approach as they’ll still be supplemented by teachers' broader assessments and observations of a child’s development.
At St John XXIII, we have decided to use an assessment that relies on teachers' observations of children's skills within the normal day-to-day school routine. This method of assessment, called Early Excellence, is approved by the Department for Education and designed so that children don't even know they're being tested.
By giving each child a baseline assessment when they first start primary school, schools will not only have a clearer idea of how much progress their pupils are making but should also help teachers identify which children are likely to need most help. “In primary schools we are raising the bar to improve standards,” says Schools Minister, David Laws, “and introducing a proper measure of progress from when children start school to age 11.” The government feels it will also recognise the good progress that schools make with children from a low starting point.