Why Nicky Morgan might be celebrating as Baseline results are uploaded   5 comments

This week reception teachers whose schools have signed up to baseline assessment will be submitting their data – about the children who started school in September.

They will have used a variety of systems, that use a variety of methods to gather the data. However we can be sure that the reception teachers will have done their very best using their professional judgement to ensure each child’s development is recorded accurately.

There are a huge number of things to report on, and as a campaigner against baseline testing and indeed any data gathering that is not for use by the teachers in supporting the individual children, I could say a lot (and in fact I already have – as a scroll through previous blogs will show)

Some people agree with me, some don’t – and as this blog is going to be very short, and about one specific area, I am not going to recap on previous points made.

This blog is about my concerns that the data sent to Government from the baseline assessments will be used to push forward Government ideas for more formal education at earlier and earlier ages. I think that  many of those completing the baseline assessments may not of considered this.

So for this blog I am going to mention just one area – literacy, and in particular reading.

I have been following comments made by reception teachers on social media about completing the the assessments and inputting the data. There have been a number of comments about the statements about reading, phonic knowledge and so on. Not surprisingly the teachers are reporting low scores in these areas, as some children  do not yet know their letter sounds or recognise letters. Quite rightly the teachers are saying the children have yet to experience much (if any) phonic input, and that progress will be made over the reception year.

As many of these children are still 4, I am not surprised at what the teachers are reporting, although I do question why there are such statements for 4 year olds.

However, although I question why there are such statements, I am not surprised. In my opinion the statements are there because the government want the data to show just how poor the children’s abilities are compared to the governments aim of getting children to read BEFORE the start school.

If you have not heard of this aim before, this is what Nicky Morgan has said

The Department for Education has created new resources with the charity 4Children to equip parents and early years providers with high-quality activities and resources to help develop pre-school children’s language skills with the aim of getting more children reading before they start school. (My bold)

This is where I got this information (but it is stated/ recorded in other places)

Post from Literacy Trust

Let’s think about this

If children are to learn to read BEFORE they start school, who is going to ‘teach’ them to do this?

Well not the trained reception teachers, but early years practitioners, parents, grandparents and other well meaning adults.

So what methods will they use?

Of course some will have undertaken some training but when and will it be in line with methods used in schools?

Some will just used whatever method they were taught

Some will just ‘do it’

So children will start school with all sorts of previous experiences, some will have gaps in their knowledge, some will have no idea about phonics, some will have made progress, some won’t.

And what will the role of the reception teacher be?

At a guess to move the children forward at a rapid rate based on the fact that the children should be able to read before starting school – but also at a guess it will take reception teachers a lot of time to unpick what each child knows, fill any gaps, repair any damage done by well meaning but uninformed adults.

And what will be the requirement in early years settings?

Again a guess – but maybe less play, more phonics, more box ticking to say children have been provided with opportunities to read

And parents?

Maybe more pressure to ensure their child can read, and therefore more opportunities for label both parents and children as ‘not good enough’

What makes me very, very sad is I know many reception teachers will be horrified if this does happen, and yet many are unwittingly providing the data to help provide the ‘evidence’ the government need to push forward formal learning to an early age – and in doing so pushing the responsibility away from reception teachers and on to parents and early years settings.

I speak to so many who say the Early Years Foundation stage is unique and is where children learn through play all the essential foundations of learning, that it can’t be rushed, and that really academic based learning should not start until 6 or 7.

This is why I would to ask everyone to consider just what is behind the data gathering by government through the baseline assessments, and if concerned to consider signing the ‘Better without baseline petition’ started by Early Education who have a long history of supporting high quality early years education, and supported by many other organisations including NUT, Pre-school Learning Alliance and Pacey.

And even if you have already filled in baseline assessments, already signed up to one of the schemes, there is nothing wrong with reflective practice and nothing wrong in reconsidering you personal position on this

Better without baseline petition

BUT hurry, this is going to be handed in on Thursday 22nd October

Posted October 15, 2015 by psw260259 in My thoughts on current childcare issues

5 responses to “Why Nicky Morgan might be celebrating as Baseline results are uploaded

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  1. As a literacy specialist, I endorse everything Penny has said here. It is counter-productive to try to ‘teach’ children to read before they have the language and self-regulation skills to cope with ‘top-down teaching’. Some lucky children, who are sung, talked and read to from an early age, do learn to read before they start school but this certainly doesn’t mean that ALL children OUGHT to. And, due to government propaganda, many parents now think that learning to read is all about phonic drill, which is definitely isn’t.

    The western countries with the best record in literacy are those where children have a play-based approach to education in the early years — Finland, where formal education doesn’t begin until children are seven, is regularly near the top in international comparisons. There is also plenty of international research showing that early formal learning is damaging for children in the long run. Not only do any early gains in reading ‘wash out’ within a few years, but children who’ve been subjected to ‘top-down teaching’ at an early age are more likely to suffer from emotional and mental health problems as time goes on.

    The introduction of baseline testing is yet another move in the drive to ‘schoolify’ early education and should be resisted at all costs.

    Sue (who, before writing Toxic Childhood, wrote endless books on grammar, phonics and spelling!)

  2. This makes me so sad! I can’t add anything more at present, this just makes me more determined for my #summerborn to start school in reception at csa and not a single day before!

  3. home schooling will be the only choice for my youngest, if Nicky Morgan continues the way she is. Just a thought could I request my son doesn’t have the assessment carried out on him?

    • I am not sure about the answer to this. A teacher whose own child will be starting at another school to the one she teaches in, has asked this question – but no one seems to know yet.

      You would think that as the children are not CSA you could, but with this government often though in theory you can do things – it is not made easy!

      If I find out the answer, I will let you know

    • Apparently, American parents are now doing this in droves. The testing regime over there is as ferocious and stupid as ours so parents (especially in New York) are just refusing to let their kids sit them. it’s apparently spreading like wildfire.

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