Formal assessments for four and five-year-olds


The Education Secretary has signalled a desire to introduce formal assessments for four and five-year-olds when they enter school in England and again when they leave at 11 as the best way to monitor their progress.

Michael Gove said that Performance Indicators in Primary School (PIPS) tests were already widely used in the state and independent sectors, and that anyone the first year of school can be given a series of tests to see the level of cognitive development that they're at.

He said: "They provide teachers with the information they need - and the best teachers already do this - to know how to tailor teaching to students.

"It will also enable us to see those schools that have tough and difficult intakes that may perhaps at the end of the primary phase not appear to be doing well on headline figures, but they made tremendous progress.

"What we need to do is to ensure that schools that are helping the most disadvantaged children in the most difficult areas are rewarded most generously for the work they do in order to advance social justice."

However, Christine Blower, the general secretary of the National Union of Teachers, said: "Formal testing at four years old or even at five is simply too much too soon.

"If the secretary of state is serious about trusting the professionalism and judgement of teachers he should listen to voices from the profession who understand how to evaluate children's progress and ensure that they develop a spirit of enquiry and love of learning.

"We should also bear in mind that in Finland children don't even begin formal schooling until the age of 7."

Shadow education secretary Tristram Hunt said: We're seeing far too many kids entering school who aren't school ready, sometimes six, nine, 12 months behind where they need to be in terms of their ability to speak, in terms of their understanding of phonics, even in terms of toilet training, so it's entirely appropriate that teachers understand the baseline of learning from which they'll be going forward with these kids."

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