Four-year-olds need to play, not take tests | Letters

Reception tests are a worrying development, say Mary Fawcett and Colin Richards, while John Davies is inspired by the children’s writer Michael Rosen

Many readers will be shocked to read about testing four-year-olds (Education, 23 July). The fact that “the test is not a measure of individual children and will not be kept on their school records” is disturbing. These children will be assessed in order to have data for the Department for Education to compare schools. The fact that language and counting are being checked seems inappropriate since this will probably be a child’s first encounter with a school.

The first term’s experience of school should concentrate on play, exploration of our wonderful world, communication with other people (not just verbally), developing relationships, and social adjustment. It used to be called developing the whole child. No other European country has tests at this young age. Indeed, if we look at Finland, we find that it has no tests at all until the end of schooling. Teachers there have autonomy and their educational achievements have consistently outstripped ours for many years.
Mary Fawcett
Bath

• When national tests for seven and 11-year-olds were first introduced, some Scandinavian friends described them to me as a form of child abuse. How 20 or so years on would they describe baseline assessment for four-year-olds? And will many parents of children in the pilot schools come to the same sad conclusion?
Professor Colin Richards
Spark Bridge, Cumbria

• I found Michael Rosen’s words (Education, 23 July) regarding children with special needs – “They are us. We exist as a totality of human beings in all our states of being, in all our various ways of surviving on this planet” – inspiring. But what hope is there of them affecting politicians raised on Ayn Rand and Milton Friedman?
John Davies
East Morton, Keighley

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