Reception Baseline Announcement - implications for schools

What are your thoughts on the reception baseline assessment?

Following the DfE's announcement on 11th April 2018 that a new statutory baseline assessment will be introduced in autumn 2020, we collated some initial thoughts about the announcement.

Thanks to James Pembroke and Michael Tidd for sharing their views on this.  You can join in the conversation on Twitter @RSAssessment.


James Pembroke - founder of independent school data consultancy Sig+

What did you make of the announcement?
The update confirms:

  • the introduction of a statutory reception baseline assessment in autumn 2020 as the start point for progress measures
  • NFER have been selected as the preferred baseline provider
  • key stage 1 assessment will become non-statutory in 2023 once the baseline becomes established (a timeline can be found here).

This is of no surprise as it was set out in the initial consultation response. What is unexpected though is the plan for non-all-through schools. Rather than continuing to measure progress from key stage 1  - which can't be done once that assessment ceases to be statutory - or using the reception baseline as the start point as previously proposed, it has been decided that there will be no published progress measures for junior and middle schools from 2027 (the year the first reception baseline cohort reach the end of key stage 2). Furthermore, despite infant and first schools having a statutory responsibility to administer the reception baseline - all schools with a reception year will have to do this - there are no plans to introduce progress measures for these schools. It has now been confirmed that only the all-though primary schools will have published progress data from 2027. Instead, in the absence of any official progress data, infant, first, junior and middle schools will be responsible for demonstrating progress to Ofsted using their own assessment information. No doubt standardised assessment will play an important role.


Michael Tidd - Headteacher at Medmerry Primary School

What are the implications for schools?
Any old hand in teaching will tell you of the risks of throwing things away because old ideas soon come around again. Not many come around quite as quickly as the reception baseline seems to have bounced back, though. Barely a couple of years after the last incarnation was given the chop, so a new one emerges.

Despite the concerns surrounding it, I think it will generally be a positive move. Finally we’ll start to see the fantastic achievements of infant departments recognised in school progress results. And surely it has to be fairer to reflect schools real starting points as best we can if we’re going to compare them when it comes to outcomes in Year 6?

For many schools now will be the time to reflect on the current baseline arrangements. Some will have dropped the national baseline offers as soon as it became clear that the statutory requirement was being delayed; others might have continued to use all or part of the 2015-style approaches. In the coming weeks, schools will need to decide whether to make changes for the forthcoming year, but safe in the knowledge that this year’s data won’t form part of any statutory arrangements.

In the longer term, it seems quite likely that all schools will be delivering a very similar model assessment. From 2019, a large-scale pilot will take place. The DfE says that this will be a voluntary pilot, so might the option be open to all schools to take part? Certainly when the last baseline model was attempted, huge numbers of primary schools signed up before they had to; at least it gives us a way of seeing what’s coming.

By 2020, all schools will be using the new baseline. The lack of a choice of providers this time leaves one less decision to be made by schools -  then it’s the long wait till 2027 to find out how well it works to measure progress to Year 6!


Join the conversation on Twitter
RS Assessment from Hodder Education (@RSAssessment)
James Pembroke (@jpembroke)
Michael Tidd (@MichaelT1979)

Find out more about our standardised tests here.


reception, statutory tests

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