Once, twice, three times a failure: time to permanently scrap statutory Reception Baseline Assessment

Previous research and literature on Reception Baseline Assessment (RBA) have focused mostly on the piloting stages of RBA (BERA, 2019; Bradbury, 2019).  This study sought to investigate teacher’s and key stakeholder’s perspectives on the use of RBA.  Data collection was carried out in 2021-22, which was the year this assessment was introduced into Reception classes in England.  In total, 70 teachers and key stakeholders from 47 Local Authorities were surveyed using a qualitative approach.

Ethics was granted from the University of Wolverhampton and the University of Birmingham in line with BECERA and BERA guidelines. A key consideration was confidentiality and anonymity ensuring that participants did not identify themselves or the setting in their responses. This enabled participants to feel comfortable and respond honestly.

The findings highlight that most participants considered that the assessment was not beneficial to them, and negatively impacted on children and practice during the crucial first six weeks of Reception. Many participants in the study called to scrap this form of assessment.  For participants in the study, appropriate assessment for four-year-olds is the continued use of internal assessment, which focuses on a broader range of development, using observations and play.