Why are we tracking Reception-aged children? Teachers’ and key stakeholders’ perspectives on the reintroduction of national Reception Baseline Assessment

David Meechan, Tracy Whatmore, Zeta Williams-Brown and Simon Halfhead

Abstract

This paper considers the recent development and implementation of statutory Reception Baseline Assessment (RBA) in England introduced by the Department for Education (2021). Internal baseline assessments, undertaken by early years professionals, have traditionally been an integral part of gaining informed knowledge and understanding of individual children in Reception classes. Previous iterations of baseline assessment have included observations and interactions with children in order to begin to construct an overview of their holistic development, their experience, abilities, skills, strengths, and areas for development (TES, 2015). Such types of assessment are used by early years teachers and practitioners to inform learning and teaching during children’s first year of primary school (Brodie, 2013). In 2021, the RBA statutory guidance (DfE) established a formal assessment process for assessing all Reception-aged children within six weeks of starting primary school.

This paper provides a review of literature and research and outlines the development and processes involved in the implementation of RBA. A research-based study, investigating teacher and key stakeholder perceptions of RBA is then detailed. The paper reports on the research, which utilised a qualitative survey (Bryman, 2004) to collect data from 70 teachers and stakeholders across 47 local authorities in England. Data was collected and analysed, and the findings detail distinctive differences in purpose and values of RBA in comparison to internal baseline assessment. The paper concludes by recommending that RBA is halted and reconsidered in relation to teachers’ priorities at this crucial time, and the purpose and values of internal baseline assessment be further discussed.

 

Meechan, D., Whatmore, T., Brown, Z. and Halfhead, S. (2022) Why are we tracking Reception-aged children? Teachers’ and key stakeholders’ perspectives on the reintroduction of national Reception Baseline Assessment. Educationalfutures, [online] Vol. 13(2). Available at: https://educationstudies.org.uk/?p=19020 [Accessed 01 Mar, 2024].