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Call to boycott testing of four-year-olds

Schools are being encouraged to boycott new tests for children entering reception classes.

The new baseline assessments, which are optional, can be introduced in schools from September to test the knowledge and understanding of children as young as four.

Following a review, early years professional groups Early Education and TACTYC: The Association for the Professional Development of Early Years Educators argue that the new arrangements are not in the best interests of children, nor do they present an accurate picture of children’s abilities.

They fear the tests could become redundant as it would be another seven years until a comparable test is taken that can be used to ascertain a child’s progress, during which time government policy on testing could change. 

Early Education chief executive Beatrice Merrick said, “It is wrong that school leaders are being pressured to adopt assessment practices in their schools which are not in the best interests of children”.

“Accountability of schools is an important principle, but the proposed baseline assessment tests are not a sound, effective or valuable means of showing how schools meet the needs of their children."

In January more than 2,000 people, including influential early years sector figures such as Cathy Nutbrown, head of the school of education at the University of Sheffield, signed a petition to persuade the government to the tests. 

Merrick commented that almost 3,000 people had now signed the petition, which will be handed to ministers ahead of the general election in May.