Self-regulation dropped from Reception baseline

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Self-regulation has been removed from the Reception baseline assessment, following a trial in schools.


The Department for Education has decided not to go ahead with including it in the new baseline because the trial showed it was not possible to measure the proposed tasks that make up the self-regulation component effectively. They also took longer on average than the other tasks for mathematics, and early literacy, communication and language.

The baseline assessment, which involves one-to-one tasks with a pupil, is intended to last around 20 minutes in total.

The move was revealed by the Standards and Testing Agency, which has published the Reception baseline assessment framework for the 2019/20 national pilot of the Reception baseline that will take place from September.

The news earlier this month that the DfE is pressing ahead with the Reception baseline and inviting schools to take part in a trial of the assessment was met with frustration from the early years sector.

Schools will carry out the baseline within the first six weeks of chidlren starting Reception.

Meanwhile, the Department for Education has confirmed that it will not be publishing the results of the trial of the baseline, which took place in 300 schools with 3,000 pupils last term.

The self-regulation content areas, which were intended to assess how well children could persist with a task, were to have included ‘working memory’, ‘inhibitory control (the ability to ignore distractions)’, and ‘attentional flexibility’ (the ability to shift attention).

The STA said, ‘Analysis of the trial data suggested that, in the proposed tasks, it was not possible to measure each content area independently thus reducing the usefulness of the information that would be provided about the domain.

‘Practitioners involved in the trial also indicated that they were unsure of the purpose and value of the self-regulation tasks, which took longer to administer on average than other tasks.

‘As a result, the Department for Education has decided not to include self-regulation in the assessment to enable greater coverage and reliability of the other content areas in the time available. The assessment of self-regulation will form part of the reformed Early Years Foundation Stage Profile, which is an observational assessment more suited to this content area.’

The baseline will be an activity-based assessment of children's ability in:

Mathematics tasks

Early number
Early calculation
Mathematical language
Early understanding of shape

Literacy, communication and language (LCL)

Early vocabulary
Phonological awareness
Early reading
Early comprehension

What does the assessment involve?

The STA framework says:

  • The timing required is approximately 20 minutes per pupil, and it can be paused or started where appropriate.

  • Teachers wil record teh results on a laptop, computer or tablet.

  • The assessment must be carried out by a Reception teacher, teaching assistant or other qualified practitioner, e.g early years lead or SENCO, working one-to-one with each pupil. The practitioner should be familiar to the pupil.

  • The assessment consists of practical task, using physical resources, and an online scoring system for the practitioner to complete.

  • Pupils can respond orally, by pointing, or by ordering or moving objects.

  • The total number of marks available is 45, but this will vary for each pupil as there are different ‘routes’ through the assessment to stop pupils ‘from being presented with too many activities in which they are likely to be unsuccessful. It also helps to reduce the required time for the assessment and the possible discomfort that pupils may feel if they are unable to complete an activity.’ Each pupil will be presented with activities, which are worth at least 26 marks.

  • There is no pass mark. The assessment has been designed so that children with SEND or English as an additional language can take part.

  • It will not be used to label or track individual pupils. No numerical score will be shared, and the data will only be used at the end of year 6 to form the school-level progress measure. However, teachers will receive a series of short, narrative statements that tell them how their pupils performed in the assessment at that time. These can be used to inform teaching within the first term.
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