Tests for four-year-olds will disrupt their learning | Letter

The focus must be on the children’s emotional wellbeing, not on gathering data to measure school performance, say early years specialists and headteachers

As parents of four-year-olds discover which primary school they will join in September, many will be unaware that their children will be formally tested in English and maths in the first weeks of term.

When these new learners begin their school lives this year, like older children, the focus must be on their emotional wellbeing. Settling in, learning the routines of school life and making friends must be the priority. They, too, have had their young lives disrupted by Covid. They have missed out on socialising, play and many of the skills usually learned in nursery settings, where attendance rates were as low as 50% during lockdown.

There is no place for the government’s planned introduction of a reception baseline assessment whose sole purpose is to collect data to measure school performance seven years hence. It will provide no useful information for teachers or parents and will disrupt those critical early weeks, with up to 20 hours of in-classroom teaching time lost to its administration.

A child-focused recovery plan for schools must include our very youngest pupils.
Nancy Stewart More Than A Score campaign, Beatrice Merrick British Association for Early Childhood Education, Gemma Moss UCL Institute of Education, Chris Dyson Headteacher and 170 other early years specialists and primary school headteachers

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