Superhead Dame Alison Peacock snubs baseline tests for four-year-olds

One of the government’s key advisers on primary education and most feted headteachers, Dame Alison Peacock, has revealed that her school will refuse to carry out the controversial new baseline assessment.

Dame Alison, headteacher of the Wroxham School in Hertfordshire and a member of the Department for Education’s Commission for Assessment Without Levels, has chosen to join almost 3,000 heads who are believed to be continuing with their own internal assessments for four-year-olds in Reception, rather than adopting the new system.

Although the tests are not compulsory, the DfE has said that, from next year, they will be the only accepted way of measuring how children have progressed when they are in Year 6 – meaning schools will be under heavy pressure to sign up.

“We are not doing the baseline,” said Dame Alison, who has also advised ministers on teacher training and professional development. “We already have a very comprehensive way of assessing the children: we do it through observation and talking to the children. We also have a nursery and it seemed strange to have a formal assessment after working for a year with them.”

The baseline assessment has been criticised by early years campaigners and teaching unions since it was first proposed in 2013.

The official consultation revealed that only 34 per cent of respondents agreed that it was a good idea to introduce a baseline check at the start of Reception. And, earlier this year, the NUT union threatened a national boycott over the tests, saying that children aged 4 were too young to test.

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