EYFS Profile remains statutory and 'good level of development' on the rise

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The EYFS Profile will continue to be used for the 2017-18 academic year, the education secretary has confirmed.

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Five-year-olds' development improving

Earlier this year the Profile was extended until the 2016-17 academic year by the Standards and Testing Agency, after the Baseline which was intended to replace it, was scrapped.

It has now been extended further.

The latest results of the Profile published today (Thursday) also show that children are completing Reception class with improved development.

Yesterday, education secretary Justine Greening confirmed in a written statement that there will be a consultation in the new year in which the Government will set out steps to improve and simplify primary assessment arrangements.

The education secretary acknowledged that the ‘pace and scale’ of changes to primary assessment had been ‘stretching’.

This year summer 11-year-olds took the new assessments in English and Maths for the first time.

It was also confirmed that children will not have to take maths and reading resits at the start of year 7.

Ms Greening said that the assessments were ‘a break from the past’ and not comparable with proceeding years and that no more than 6 per cent of primary schools would be below the floor standard in 2016.

The Key Stage 1 spelling, punctuation and grammar test will remain non-statutory this year.

Earlier this year there was a furore when the paper for the spelling test was leaked online and the Department for Education was forced to scrap it.

There will also be no new national tests or assessments introduced before the 2018 to 2019 academic year.

In addition, there will be new guidance for moderation of teacher assessment. This will be accompanied with mandatory training for local authority moderators.

Nansi Ellis, assistant general secretary at the Association of Teachers and Lecturers (ATL) said, ‘We welcome today's announcement which signals a new approach by the Government to working more closely with teachers, heads and education professionals.

‘It is good to hear the Secretary of State say she is willing to listen to the concerns of teachers, leaders and support staff about last summer's tests.

‘Primary school head teachers will be hugely relieved that the results of the 2016 key stage 2 SATs will not be used by Regional Schools Commissioners as the basis for taking over the running of any school, which is something ATL lobbied for.

‘Children, parents, and teachers will be relieved that the toxic proposal to force children to resit their SATs tests in their first year of secondary school has been shelved.

‘We hope teachers will find the new teacher assessment guidance useful. It is good to hear that the key stage 1 grammar, punctuation and spelling tests will be optional again this summer.

‘We welcome Justine Greening’s commitment to working with the profession to develop an assessment system that works for children and teachers as well as for holding schools accountable for providing a good education for all children. We look forward to taking part in the consultation and hope the Secretary of State will continue to listen to teachers and heads.

‘We will now consult our members in primary schools in England about the detailed proposals to understand whether they will have a positive impact on the tests children will take in the summer and on how primary schools will be held to account.’

Angela Rayner MP, Labour shadow Education Secretary, commenting on the Government’s U-turn on requiring Year 7s to re-sit Maths and English SAT tests, said, ‘It is no wonder that after the summer SATs results chaos that the Government have been forced to U-turn on their manifesto commitment to make children take resits just as they start secondary school.

‘Under the Tories parents and teachers are struggling to navigate their way through the Government’s constant chopping and changing to exams and assessments. The chaos surrounding results year on year is creating confusion for parents, who are struggling to identify how to support their child to improve, and extra bureaucracy for school leaders and teachers, who are finding it extremely difficult to plan ahead to ensure high quality education for children.’

EYFS Profile results

The number of children achieving a ‘good level of development’ rose by three percentage points on last year, to 69.3 per cent, according to the Early Years Foundation Stage Profile 2016.

Girls are still doing far better than boys, with a gender gap of 14.7 per cent, but this slightly smaller than last year when it was 15.6 per cent.

Steady progress is seen across categories, such as listening and attention, understanding, speaking, managing feelings and behaviour, making relationships, and being imaginative, with rates all over 80 per cent of pupils achieving at least the expected level.

Goals for reading, writing and numbers were however below 80 per cent.

Reduced inequality is also a continuing trend, albeit at a snail’s pace, with the gap between the lowest scoring 20 per cent, and the higher achieving children.

This stands at 31.4 per cent, compared to 32.1 per cent the previous year and the gap was 36.6 per cent in 2013, an improvement of just over five percentage points in three years.

Minister for the Early Years, Caroline Dinenage, said, 'It’s vital that all young people are given the tools to achieve their full potential, and early education is a crucial part of this journey. The results today show real progress, which is a testament to the dedication and hard work of childcare professionals across the country. But we know there is more we can do to give children the very best start, and that’s why we are investing a record £6billion per year in childcare by 2020.
 
'We have also committed to keeping the profile for a further two years to give stability to providers and we want them to share their views with us when we consult on its future early next year.'

Neil Leitch, chief executive of the Pre-school Learning Alliance, said, ‘We welcome today’s results which once again demonstrate that, despite the many challenges currently facing the sector, early years providers continue to deliver high quality learning opportunities to the children in their care.

‘Clearly, there is still room for improvement: there is still a notable gap between assessment results for girls and boys, although it is positive to see that this is continuing to decrease.

‘And of course, with 30 per cent of children not currently reaching a 'good level of development', it’s important that we look at the reasons why and what can be done to address this going forward, while recognising that children inevitably learn and develop at different rates. 

‘Overall, however, we are pleased to see that the general picture is a continually improving one.

'With the recent news that the EYFS Profile is to remain statutory for 2017/18, these findings are also a timely reminder of the importance of supporting children across all areas of development, not just those that are simpler to measure or ‘test’.

‘We hope that, as the Government prepares to consult on primary assessment, it will listen to the sector and recognise that early assessment should focus first and foremost on the child, and supporting their ongoing learning and development, and not – as has been the focus more recently – measuring and ranking schools and providers.’

Claire Schofield, NDNA's director of policy, said, described the improvements as 'great news'.

'This is all credit to the nursery sector which is continuing to improve despite business pressures from all angles – including uncertainty over forthcoming 30 hours funding, recruitment problems, increasing costs associated with National Living Wage and pensions enrolment, and in many cases, high rises in Business Rates from April 2017,' added Ms Scholfield.'

Commenting on the gender gap, she added, 'NDNA is working hard to help narrow this gap further, for example with its courses and publications on motivating boys to learn.'

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