Philip Pullman joins calls to scrap baseline tests for four and five-year-olds

The Guardian is reporting that children’s author Philip Pullman is one of 80 signatories to a letter to the paper calling for plans to introduce tests for four- and five-year-olds in their first weeks at primary schools to be scrapped…

…Pullman is one of 80 signatories to a letter to the Guardian which argues that the tests should be stopped because they are “statistically invalid, will formalise a testing culture from the age of four, will be used to judge teachers and schools and, most importantly, will be dangerous for children”.

Other signatories include author and Guardian regular Michael Rosen, psychologist and writer Penelope Leach, psychotherapist Susie Orbach, author of Toxic Childhood Sue Palmer, children’s writer John Dougherty, educational consultant Dr Richard House and consultant psychiatrist and psychotherapist Dr Felicity de Zulueta.

The letter says: “We have the most over tested children in the developed world already, and the addition of the new baseline assessment will drive this test culture to an even younger age. We should not let that happen…”

More at: Philip Pullman joins calls to scrap baseline tests for four and five-year-olds


With the election coming up, we seem to be in the season for these kinds of letters being sent to newspapers.

How much impact do you think they have, and how much should they have? In this case, most who have signed it seem to be teachers or teaching union reps, whose positions are no surprise.

Does adding a sprinkling of celebrities to grab the headlines change the debate in any way? Or do you welcome all the attention those opposing the proposal can generate?


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Categories: Primary.


  1. berylkingston

    SchoolsImprove While we’re at it, how about scrapping all tests? You can’t and won’t make children grow by measuring them every 5 minutes

  2. @berylkingston SchoolsImprove It’s true that you ‘don’t fatten pigs by weighing them’, but, every so often you need to weigh them to see how they are getting on.  You can then alter their diet appropriately.
    That’s what the baseline test is for.  If it is then used to judge the pupil or teacher or school then distortion sets in.  If it is used to ensure that all pupils get the appropriate educational diet, then it is valuable.

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