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Moves come as consultation on baseline assessment in schools closes

Delegates at a 4Children conference on quality in early years have today (Thursday 10 October 2013) provided overwhelming backing for the continuation of the early years profile. This backing came just hours before a government consultation on proposals to remove it to replace it with a new baseline assessment for children entering school closes.

The conference which included presentations by Sue Gregory, National Director for Early Childhood at Ofsted, Katie Farrington, Deputy Director Teaching and Curriculum, Department for Education and Sue Robb, Head of Early Years at 4Children was attended by over 200 early years experts discussing issues such as workforce, leadership, Early Years Foundation Stage (EYFS) and the new policy of free childcare places for the most disadvantaged 2 year olds. New proposals for a baseline assessment in schools were highlighted by delegates as being of critical importance to early years

Speaking at the conference Anne Longfield OBE, Chief Executive of Children, said:

“Government proposals to introduce a new baseline assessment for children as they enter schools offer an opportunity to bring consistency and depth to a process that we know takes place in many different forms in every school around the country.  There is also the opportunity to use the assessment to build on the new two year old check to provide a continuum in the identification of children who need additional help, linked to the pupil premium.

“However, the early years sector is clearly expressing its concern over the potential threat to the EYFS in reception year if proposals to remove the profile from the statute book were implemented.”

4Children has today responded to the consultation, noting how if proposals to introduce a baseline assessment are to succeed they must:  

  • Use the baseline to build on existing two year old checks to truly inform early identification for the pupil premium, meaning working closely with and receiving support from and the involvement of parents in the formative and summative assessments. This is about informing the next learning steps and the support needed for each child and should link clearly to funding from the pupil premium.
  • Ensure that any baseline assessment is in sympathy with a child starting school: to formally assess a child at Early Years stages (<5) within their first weeks of reception is unlikely to give valid results as this is a time when they will be settling in and assessments at too early a stage are unlikely to identify true potential and need. Ofsted already recognises (in its Additional Guidance) that entry to school is affected by age and pre-school experience; and
  • Balance between a baseline assessment and the profile of a child’s learning over time. Any assessment therefore should not be a simple (for example, computer based) test alone, but is an opportunity to join up a baseline with the EYFS profile and to have a monitoring / tracking system of children’s progress. This should be grounded in Early Years effective assessment practice – through a mixture of observation, questioning and discussion with a child over a period of time. This would be similar to the system outlined in “Progress Matters: Reviewing and enhancing young children’s development”, published in 2009 and used by many schools and nurseries when we had for the 2008 Early Years Foundation Stage, which built this on-going assessment into a simple summative assessment  to inform both parents and year 1 teachers. It needs to be a process that assesses not only what children learn but how they learn.

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For further information or to request an interview, please contact Steven Toole at [email protected] / 0207 522 6919

4Children is the national charity all about children and families. We have spearheaded a joined-up, integrated approach to children’s services and work with a wide range of partners around the country to ensure children and families have access to the services and support they need in their communities. We run Sure Start Children’s Centres as well as family and youth services across Britain.

Find out more on the consultation on Primary Assessment and Accountability