Dear Mr Jeffrey
I am writing on behalf of the Secretary of State to thank you for your letter about baseline assessments.
I was very sorry to read that you were disappointed with the content of Ben’s report , and that the school does not seem to have recognised some of the qualities that Ben clearly exhibits to you.
You have argued against the introduction of baseline assessments and have made observations about the criteria used and the age of the children assessed.
The introduction of the reception baseline should never take away the focus from the needs of individual children. We know that high quality early education has a positive impact on a child’s future. Evidence suggests that the more progress children make in the early years, the better prepared they are to learn and achieve as they move on through the school system. I would like to emphasise that the department wants teachers and other early years professionals to continue to deliver a broad education as set out in the early years foundation stage, including social and emotional development.
However, it is important to recognise the progress that schools make with all children, including those from a low starting point and the introduction of a reception baseline will allow this to happen from an earlier stage. At the moment the good work of reception, year 1 and year 2 teachers is not recognised in the accountability system.
The purpose of the reception baseline is to take a snapshot of the varying starting points of a cohort of children within a school, in order to measure pupils’ progress at school level. It is not a diagnostic tool and there will not be a passmark.
The reception baseline will form one part of a teacher’s wider assessment in reception which builds on previous assessment within and beyond the school.
Many schools currently assess children when they start school and the reception baseline helps to supplement teachers’ broader assessment of their pupils. We have tailored it to reflect the knowledge and understanding that is characteristic for children at the start of reception.
Thank you again for writing on this important matter.
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