Teachers vote in favour of opposing the new Baseline

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Teachers have voted in favour of campaigning against the Government's plans to introduce a new baseline assessment for four-year-olds.

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Children will be expected to take the Baseline assessments within the first few weeks of starting Reception

The Department for Education is expected to announce the name of the commercial provider that will develop and trial the new assessment following a bidding process for the £10m contract.

Delegates debated the Baseline at the National Education Union’s annual conference for the NUT section of the union held in Brighton over the Easter weekend.

The teaching union's members have committed to a major campaign to stop the Baseline and will be encouraging schools not to take part in the pilot of Baseline Assessment in September 2019.

The NEU is part of the More than a Score coalition of organisations and individuals that are calling for the baseline to be scrapped. The union is against testing children in the first few weeks of starting school and is in favour of observation-based assessment of children over time.

Speaking after the debate, general secretary of the NUT section of the NEU, Kevin Courtney, said, ‘Assessment is not new in reception classes. However, the Baseline test expects teachers to predict what a four-year-old child in their first few weeks at school will achieve in their SATs tests at the age of 11. Test results then become the baseline against which to measure the child’s progress, and the school’s supposed effectiveness in supporting pupil attainment.

‘Baseline will narrow the curriculum to what can be tested, denying children the rich learning experience they need to flourish. To add insult to injury baseline will also cost the taxpayer £10m to implement.

‘Building a whole edifice of accountability according to test results obtained from four-year-olds who have just started school in a new and unfamiliar setting is clearly flawed. Teachers should be focusing on the social and emotional wellbeing of children in their first few weeks at school, not testing them on a narrow range of skills.'

He said that the NEU as part of the More Than a Score coalition supports the call for these tests to be scrapped and replaced with professional judgement and observation over time, taking into account the insights of parents.

Mr Courtney said, 'Children really are more than a score. Testing them at every step of their education is extraordinarily counterproductive to their confidence and emotional wellbeing.

‘The union is committed to a major campaign to stop Baseline Assessment. It will encourage schools not to take part in the voluntary pilot of Baseline Assessment in September 2019 – and will work with others throughout the world of education to do so.'

The Department for Education's attempt to introduce the Baseline in 2015 fell thrugh after a study revealed that the three approved Baseline assessments were not comparable.

The DfE subsequently made the decision that it would choose one provider to develop and run the new Baseline scheme.

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