Editor’s view - Primary concerns

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The title of the government consultation ‘Primary Assessment in England’ might have led the early years sector to conclude it didn’t much involve them.


Liz Roberts

The just-published response shows, however, that the proposals are of fundamental importance for the Early Years Foundation Stage.

First, there is the expected return of the Baseline – to be revived despite its two previous failures, which wasted huge amounts of time, money and effort.

Yet up it pops again, with government determined to put a number on four-year-olds just starting Reception that can be used to measure their progress by the end of primary school (News, pages 4-5).

As the Institute of Education’s Alice Bradbury and Guy Roberts-Holmes argue in their online comment for us, the data gathered by Baseline checks are ‘dangerous, inappropriate and flawed’, negating young children’s complexity and ignoring the contextual factors that affect them.

The EYFS Profile is to be retained and reformed. Its survival has been welcomed, although there are concerns about plans to reduce the number of goals that are reported on (see Analysis, pages 14-15), as Understanding the World and Expressive Arts and Design could be marginalised.

And all this leaves Reception as a year dominated by assessment. Further, one suspects that there may be a fight to keep Reception in the EYFS.

Proposals to revise the Early Learning Goals could be positive, as the current ones have been compressed in a nonsensical manner and need updating. But despite mentions of ‘executive function’ and ‘self-regulation’ in the response (evidence that some early years experts have been consulted), the fear remains that over-formality and unrealistically high levels may prevail.

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