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Ministers accused of failing to listen after dropping reception tests

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Ministers have been accused of failing to listen to sound advice they were given by teachers’ unions after they eventually chose to shelve plans to introduce new baseline testing for reception pupils across England and Wales.

Earlier this week, it was announced that the tests would be scrapped for this year, because the three testing systems that were being used would have proven incomparable. The Department for Education said this means the tests would be unfair and would offer an unreliable source when it comes to measuring the progress of children across the whole country.

However, while this move has been welcomed by teachers’ unions, they have been fast to criticise the government for taking so long to come to this conclusion, with one even quipping that “it is hard to avoid saying ‘we told you so’.”

The baseline tests were supposed to be a way for schools to be able to have a starting point, from which they could measure the progress of pupils throughout their time at primary school.

However, they faced stiff opposition from the get go, and National Union of Teachers’ Christine Blower said: “Flaws in the scheme were well known to Early Years educators.”

She added: “They were pointed out to the Department for Education when it first consulted on the scheme.

“The attempt to make baseline work has cost millions, has prevented children from settling into their school and increased the workload of their teachers.”

In its statement about the pulling out of the scheme to introduce baseline testing, the Department for Education said: “That study has shown that the assessments are not sufficiently comparable to provide a fair starting point from which to measure pupil progress.

“In light of that, we will not be using this year’s results as the baseline for progress measures. This would be inappropriate and unfair to schools.”

April 12, 2016