The new pupil ‘check-ins’ which could replace early primary school tests

PUBLISHED: 11:04 14 May 2019 | UPDATED: 11:11 14 May 2019

New reception year

New reception year "check-ins" being trialled by the government in almost 10,000 schools could replace primary schools tests in year two from September 2020. Picture: Dave Thompson/PA Wire

Early primary school tests for children across Norfolk could be abolished from next year as part of a government pilot scheme.

More than 9,600 schools in England have signed up to pilot new reception baseline assessments (RBAs), a short "check-in" with pupils to give a snapshot of their development when they start school.

The intention is for the assessments to replace key stage one tests, which children sit at the age of six or seven. The pilot will take place in the first half term of the new academic year ahead of a national roll-out in 2020.

Key stage two assessments, for seven to 11-year-olds, will not be affected.

Announcing the RBA on Tuesday, the government said they are designed to reflect assessments that most schools already carry out in reception, with children assessed orally through tasks such as counting or describing pictures.

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An RBA is expected to take around 20 minutes, will be done during one-to-one time with pupils and does not have a pass mark.

Schools won't be scored for the assessments but will get statements on how each child performed to inform teaching in their first term.

Nick Gibb, school standards minister, said the RBA would be "stress-free for children" while also reducing the burden on teachers by removing whole-class assessments at the end of year two.

He said: "Just like checking a child's teeth or their eyesight, the reception baseline assessment is a quick check of a child's early language and ability to count when they start school.

"It will provide the baseline of primary school progress which is an important check of our school system, providing important information on schools' performance to make sure all children reach their potential.

"The pilot is an opportunity for schools to familiarise themselves with the format and help us make sure it works for both children and teachers."

Nick Brook, deputy general secretary of school leaders' union NAHT, said: "If a baseline assessment is to be a success, it is absolutely critical that it is done right, which is why it's encouraging that so many schools have signed up for the pilot. This will mean that the assessments can be trialled across the full range of provision. This is important because it will tell us whether the assessment which has been developed works for teachers and children, and what the next steps should be."

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