‘Children listen attentively in a range of situations. …They give their attention to what others say and respond appropriately…’
I’m sure you’ll recognise that as part of the first Early Learning Goal for Communication and Language in the EYFS. Unfortunately, the Government itself doesn’t appear to be meeting expectations in this area, given that it is pushing ahead with the implementation of the Reception Baseline in the face of almost universal sector opposition.
Last week, the Department for Education awarded the £10m contract for Baseline to the National Federation for Educational Research (see News, page 4), despite attempts to set up assessment on Reception entry failing twice already, and despite well-researched and well-argued lobbying from a host of experts, organisations, unions and practitioners.
Almost the only voice in support was from the National Association for Head Teachers – and they have quite a few reservations too!
NFER is obviously not trying to win any popularity contests at the moment, having already taken on the controversial ‘Baby Pisa’ assessment that has also attracted much criticism.
It may well be that, as its chief executive claims, Reception children can enjoy the assessment, counting teddy bears and other such activities, but there are deeper concerns about the reliability of assessments of such young children, the age range covered, assessing children with SEND, and the way that results are used to judge schools that are leaving many in despair.
Who has the Government been listening to? Has it been listening?It certainly doesn’t seem to be ‘responding appropriately’ if young children’s interests and needs are to kept at heart.