NFER to develop Reception baseline assessment


The Department for Education has chosen the National Foundation for Educational Research (NFER) to create and deliver the new Reception baseline assessment.

As the preferred supplier for the assessment, the NFER will be tasked with running trial and pilot phases, as well as the first two years of legal delivery.Existing key stage 1 assessments will be non-statutory once the baseline is developed and an initial prospective date for this is the 2022-2023 school year.

Key stage 1 assessments will also be made non-statutory for first and infant schools when they are made non-statutory in all-through primary schools, the Department for Education confirmed.

The move could prove pivotal as unions had raised concerns that infant schools may struggle if they were required to administer key stage 1 tests while all-through primaries were not.

The Department for Education has quashed those fears while awarding the £9.8 million contract for Reception baseline development.

It is designed to be used as a measure of children’s progress between the start of primary school and leaving in Year 6, and the Department for Education wants it to cover literacy, maths and communication.

At the same time, the government has said it should not be based on teaching observations, despite this being the predominant part of the Early Excellence baseline assessment that is incredibly popular among teachers.

The assessment is not without controversy, mainly due to concerns that an assessment cannot adequately reveal all of the information that is needed.

Chief Executive of the Pre-School Learning Alliance, Neil Latch, said: “The simple fact is that no test-condition assessment can be designed well enough to reflect the complexities and variation of a child in Reception.”

The Association of School and College Leaders has supported the move however, although interim director of policy Julie McCulloch stressed the need for trials to check the system’s viability and reliability.

Schools standards minister Nick Gibb said the assessment aims to ensure that all children can reach their potential, adding that early years and primary education “lays the foundations for success at secondary school and beyond”.“This quick, simple assessment will help us to capture the progress that children make throughout primary school and provides a fairer measure for school accountability,” he added.

“I would encourage teachers and head teachers to work with us through the trials and pilot to make sure we get the assessment and measures right.”