Schools opt to replace ‘test too far’ for reception children

The Guardian is reporting on the small Huddersfield consultancy that has designed the obervation-based approach to baseline assessment that has been chosen my the majority of primary schools…

…Headteachers and local authorities flocked to adopt the test-free approach offered by Early Excellence, a small consultancy in Huddersfield, which emerged as the surprise winner of the competition to supply the Department for Education’s (DfE) controversial new baseline assessment.

It means that children entering reception class in September 2015 are likely to be assessed using the new system, recording each child’s literacy and numeracy skills within a few weeks of their starting school…

Early Excellence’s director Liz Marsden said she was delighted by the outcome, which has seen the company with fewer than 50 full-time employees sign up more than 11,000 of England’s 16,700 primary schools, in the teeth of opposition from larger and better known rivals, including Hodder Education, owned by French publishing giant Hachette.

“One reason we developed it was that we were afraid of young people being tested in a formal way,” said Marsden, referring to criticism of the assessments as “dangerous for children” by objectors who include the author Philip Pullman and psychologist Penelope Leach.

Instead, Early Excellence’s assessment is done by observation in the classroom, similar to assessments that teachers carry out as part of the existing early years’ foundation stage, and avoids the use of computers or tablets that some providers have adopted…

More at: Schools opt to replace ‘test too far’ for reception children


If you have chosen the Early Excellence approach in your school please let us know why.

Also, reflecting on another story today about subconscious bias in teachers, do we have a potential problem here: schools are opting for a model based on teacher assessment when research shows that such assessment is likely to be biased against disadvantaged pupils?

Let us know what you think…


If (as research today suggests) teacher assessment shows bias, should schools be adopting a baseline test dependent on it?


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Categories: Primary.


  1. Nairb

    An excellent decision by schools and local authorities. This observation based assessment allows judgements against clear criteria without any of the ‘test’ pressure of the other schemes available. Of course as the government intend this assessment to be used to grade and league table schools at the end of KS1 and KS2 it does, ultimately, simply add to a regime which makes English primary school children the most tested in the world.

  2. wasateacher

    The major problem is not what form the assessment takes but the use to which the results will be put.  If the results were merely for a teacher’s or a school’s use as a guide and as a diagnostic tool, then a test would not be high stakes.  It is because the tests become a be all and end all way of assessing schools and quality of the teacher.  It is also problematic because the results will be used to ‘predict’ expect progress for individual children.

    Any teacher knows that children do not conform to a straight line of development.  They usually progress in fits and starts.  This is the fundamental flaw in the testing – it will always give unreliable information.

Let us know what you think...