Banning teachers’ preferred method of baseline assessment will relieve ‘burden’, says minister

Early Years Minister Nadhim Zahawi has claimed that banning teachers’ preferred method of baseline assessment will relieve the ‘burden’ facing the profession.

The Government has proposed the introduction of a new baseline assessment for four and five year olds in 2020, with the purpose of measuring the progress of pupils during primary school.

A total of 12,000 schools signed up to teacher observation-based assessment created by Early Excellence in 2016 when the Department for Education had attempted to introduce a baseline.

However the DfE later abandoned this plan when they discovered that the three approved measures were not comparable.

It has also since ruled out observation-based assessment as it looks for organisations to develop the new baseline assessment. It is a process that is estimated to cost around £10 million.


The DfE’s new proposed assessment will include an assessment of mathematics, communication and language and literacy.

In the House of Commons questions this week, Shadow Early Years Minister Tracy Brabin asked why observational assessment had been ruled out.

Nadhim Zahawi said that “the data from the baseline needed to correlate with Key Stage 2 assessment data so that ‘like-for-like’ comparisons can be made.

“To achieve this, observational assessments would represent a greater burden for teachers due to the significant additional moderation requirements to provide the consistent baseline for comparing school-level progress nationally.”

The Early Years Minister also added that observational assessment “will remain as part of the early years foundation stage profile.”

In response to a second question, Mr Zahawi said that no ministers or department officials had had discussions with contractors in which details of the baseline assessment were discussed before the specification and contract were made public.


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