Heads critical of new reception tests for five-year-olds

A small-scale survey conducted by University College London has revealed that 86 per cent of headteachers are negative about the new reception baseline assessment.

This September, about half of all primary schools in England will begin to trial the 20-minute test before a planned full rollout across the country next year. The test, which provides data about a child’s language skills and ability to count, can then be compared with test results at the end of primary to reveal how much progress a child has made, so that schools can be held to account.

Arguing it is a waste of money and will not benefit schools or children, a number of head teachers and education campaigners have urged the government to halt plans to introduce a start-of-school assessment for four- and five-year-olds. It has been labelled ‘totally unnecessary’, ‘a terrible idea’ and even ‘one of the most poorly conceived ideas I have experienced in my 30-plus years of teaching’.

Only eight per cent of the 288 survey respondents were positive about the test.

A Department for Education spokesperson said: “The reception baseline assessment is a quick check of a child’s early language and ability to count when they start school to help inform teachers. Nine in 10 schools already carry out on-entry checks. We have been listening carefully to feedback we have received throughout the development process to ensure we get the experience right for pupils and schools.”