PACEY has submitted a response to the Department for Education’s consultation on primary assessment in England.
In our submission, we reiterate our longstanding opposition to baseline assessment in the reception year. In our view, baseline assessment is not a reliable means of measuring the performance of primary schools. Moreover, we do not believe that it is proportionate or ethical to carry out such assessments on four- and five-year-olds in their first few weeks and months of formal schooling. This is why we were founding members of the Better without Baseline campaign.
The consultation also touches on the Early Years Foundation Stage Profile (EYFSP), which must be completed for all children at the end of reception. We support the Government’s decision to retain the EYFSP in 2017-18 and hope that this will be made permanent. Any alteration to the Profile would necessitate changes to early years practice, as well as Ofsted inspections, at a time when providers are already facing big challenges such as the implementation of 30 hours free childcare, with many struggling to remain sustainable. These should only be made if there is compelling evidence that they will improve children’s outcomes.
That said, we would support some revision of the Early Learning Goals in the EYFSP, and the criteria for what constitutes a Good Level of Development (GLD). We believe that these have been arbitrarily set by government and are not evidence based. The Early Learning Goals for literacy and mathematical development are particularly unrealistic and should be reviewed. We do support the Characteristics of Effective Learning in the EYFSP, and believe these should be given greater prominence in the Profile.
Finally, we also call on the Government to extend the EYFS to include year 1. There is a wealth of evidence from across the globe that has shown that an extended period of playful learning is extremely beneficial for the development and wellbeing of children under the age of seven.