Expecting children as young as four to take tests when they join reception classes is challenged by both parents and teachers. The petition opposing ‘baseline assessments’ has attracted 64,000 signatures. A march will take place on 25 April ending with the petition being handed in to Downing Street.
An article in Sunday’s Observer prompted an immediate response from the Department for Education. Schools have nothing to fear: data from the tests ‘will only be used to form the progress measure’. And it won’t be used to ‘hold providers to account’.
The claim that schools won’t be judged by the ‘progress’ made between baseline tests and Key Stage 2 Sats is rather undermined by the next sentence:
‘Schools should be accountable for the progress of all their pupils, throughout their time at primary school, and the reception baseline will help to provide a starting point to measure how well the school supports children to succeed.’
Results ‘will not be used to label or track individual children,’ the DfE says. But this is also contradicted. Baseline assessment results will be stored on the National Pupil Database (NPD) until the end of Year 6. The NPD ‘is the richest education datasets in the world holding a wide range of information’ including exam results, ethnicity, first language, free school eligibility and exclusions for every single child in an English state school.
Schools will not be held to account. Schools will be accountable.
Test results will not track individual children. Test results will be stored for up to seven years on individual NPD records.
Classic cases of Doublethink.
FOOTNOTE: In 2014, changes in the law allowed organisations including private companies to access the NPD under strict rules. In 2016, the little-known Star Chamber Scrutiny Board decided to include nationality data on NPD records. This was rushed through Parliament with little scrutiny. A backlash against the requirement resulted in it being scrapped. The UK Statistics Authority (UKSA) has been working with the DfE about safeguarding NPD data. In October 2018, UKSA published an update which listed which of its recommendations had been met and which needed further work.