We’re pleased baseline testing has been postponed – now it’s time to scrap it altogether
We’re pleased to see that the DfE has today decided to do the right thing and postpone the baseline testing for four-year-olds for this year.
Children, parents and teachers have experienced an extremely tumultuous time over the last few months. Our focus right now must be the emotional wellbeing of young children and making sure we help them make a safe transition to the new normal.
In just a few months, children have had to stop going to nursery, get used to being at home and deal with separation from their teachers and friends. Now some are having to go back to nursery or school and deal with a whole new range of restrictions and rules. Testing in September would add more stress to what has already been a stressful few months. What children will really need is to play, interact with friends and build relationships with new teachers.
Each family has dealt with lockdown differently, with parents making their own decisions about when and how their child should transition back to school. These decisions have been informed by personal situations, employment status, income levels, location, their trust in the Government and most importantly, how each individual child has dealt with the pandemic. Covid-19 has quite starkly highlighted how difficult it is to find a one-size-fits-all approach to education. There is no standardised way or consensus about how we can safely return to nursery, and yet we expect a diverse cohort of wonderfully unique children, to take standardised tests once they start school to track their development. It seems absurd, even without a pandemic thrown into the mix.
While the postponement after Covid-19 is a positive first step, we now urge the DfE to scrap the baseline testing altogether. Parents agree, as our recent research shows that 78% think the pressures of the current education system, including testing from a young age, can have a negative impact on children.
There is no evidence that four-year-olds can be reliably tested, or that testing within the first few weeks of school will be beneficial for young children’s mental development. We passionately support the More than a Score campaign, and will continue campaigning against the policy, which we believe is pointless, damaging and a complete waste of money.
Having assessments for such young children will not allow children, teachers, or parents to thrive. In the most educationally successful countries in the world, such as Switzerland, children do not start school until 7. The idea of testing our children from well before then is ludicrous and we hope the DfE see sense.