Families lose legal challenge against Reception baseline

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Families challenging the Department for Education’s introduction of the Reception baseline assessment have been refused permission to take the case to a full judicial review.

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The case was heard at the Royal Courts of Justice in London

Last week, a High Court judge decided against granting permission for a hearing to examine in more detail whether the Government’s decision about proceeding with the Reception baseline assessment and its pilot scheme have been lawful.

The controversial assessment will take place in the first few weeks after a child starts Reception and will replace the current Key Stage 1 tests at the end of year 2. The check is being rolled out nationally in 2020 and a pilot is taking place this September.

The families launched the challenge because of concerns that the assessment process could cause ‘potential harm’ to their children.

During the hearing, it was accepted on behalf of the education secretary that teachers will be trusted to use their professional judgement to define the ‘exceptional circumstances’ in which the assessment of a child can be stopped and that a teacher need not wait until a child becomes distressed by the proves, as had previously been agreed.

Lisa Richardson, a solicitor at Irwin Mitchell representing the families involved, said, ‘While it is obviously disappointing that the legal challenge did not proceed to a full judicial review hearing, the case has shone a light on important issues in relation to the Reception baseline assessment of children and allowed these to be examined. We hope the Government will ensure it takes into account our clients’ concerns about the welfare of the young children at the heart of this process in the future development of the scheme.’

A spokesperson for the More Than A Score campaign group said, ‘The case brought to the High Court is another demonstration of the strength of feeling about the introduction of the Reception baseline assessment. Parents, teachers, heads and education experts all agree: testing four-year-olds makes no sense. It's time for the Government to listen to those who know children best and halt the roll-out of these pointless and potentially damaging tests.’

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