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On Thursday 27 March the Department for Education (DfE) published the Government response to the primary assessment and accountability consultation.  Sitting alongside changes to assessment and accountability systems and structures for keys stages 1 and 2 there are changes to assessment in the reception year.   A short reception baseline will be introduced that will sit within the assessments that reception staff make of children during their reception year.

This will capture the school’s starting point from which the progress of a cohort will be measured.  The baseline will be age appropriate and schools will be able to use it from September 2015.  This baseline will sit within the teacher’s broader assessments of children’s development – which go wider than any single baseline assessment can accurately capture.  Teachers will continue to undertake on-going (formative) assessment during reception.  At such a key transition point, such as moving into reception, we expect teachers to liaise with a child’s previous setting in order to build on the child’s learning and development.

The Early Years Foundation Stage continues to be statutory supporting children to experience a broad and engaging programme of learning in reception and ongoing (formative) assessment is an integral part of that process.  Ofsted assess how schools meet the requirements of the EYFS as part of their inspection and this is emphasised by the fact they are currently consulting on a separate judgement on early years in schools.

Status of the EYFS Profile

The Early Years Foundation Stage Profile was not designed to be a progress measure therefore once the reception baseline has been fully implemented in September 2016 and in order to avoid an excessive assessment burden in Reception, the EYFS Profile will no longer be compulsory.  The transition period up to September 2016 will be carefully managed and DfE will communicate clearly with local authorities, stakeholders and schools.

Accountability in the Primary Years   

The accountability system will now reflect the raised expectations being placed on primary schools.  The DfE:

  • Are setting a challenging aspiration that 85% of children should achieve the new expected standard by the end of primary school.  Over time the DfE expect more and more schools to achieve this standard;
  • Will be requiring schools to publish information on their websites so that parents can understand both the progress pupils make and the standards they achieve;
  • Will be introducing a new floor standard, which will be based on the progress made by pupils from the reception baseline to the end of primary school.  A school will fall below the floor only if pupils make poor progress and fewer than 85% of them achieve the new expected standard.

Summary of reforms in key stage 1 and 2:

  • Introduce more challenging tests at key stage 1 and 2 that will report a precise scaled score rather than a level;
  • Make detailed performance descriptors available to inform teacher assessment at the end of key stage 1 and key stage 2. These will be directly linked to the content of the new curriculum;
  • Improve the moderation regime for KS1 and 2 ensuring that teacher assessments are more consistent.

The Government analysis of the consultation responses, along with the full response, can be found here.  The consultation closed on 11 October.  DfE received 1187 written responses to the consultation, and held discussions at a series of events and conferences.

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