'Protesters cuddling teddy bears, eating crisps, wearing pink tutus and banging tambourines have delivered a petition with 68,000 signatures to No 10, calling on the government to scrap plans to introduce standardised assessment for children in reception class.
The “march of the four-year-olds” began in Parliament Square on Thursday with a gentle sing-song and some chalk drawing on the pavement. Then, they ambled hand-in-hand towards Downing Street, where Alex, Safa and Isla – all aged four – went through a line of heavily armed police to hand over the document.
Organised by More Than a Score, a campaign group comprised of parents, teachers and education experts who believe children are overtested in England, the march attracted more than 200 parents, toddlers, teachers and early years experts from across the country, including Durham, Devon, Cornwall, Sheffield, Liverpool and Stafford.
They were protesting against government proposals to introduce baseline assessment in reception classes at schools in England, to test the communication, literacy and maths skills of four-year-olds. Raymond Mensah, from Lewisham in south-east London, joined the protest with his sons Daniel, three, and Joseph, two.
“The test is absolutely out of order,” he said. “It’s not possible to test a four-year-old child. It doesn’t make any sense. They need to give them time, they need to allow the children to grow. It’s too early to test. I absolutely don’t want it.”
Hannah Atkinson, from County Durham, brought four-year-old Oscar and Byron, who is seven months old. “I needed to speak as an advocate for my children because they don’t have a voice. It’s an extra accountability measure for schools, using our children as fodder,” she said.
The 20-minute test will involve each child being taken aside by a teacher, who will conduct the assessment on a tablet. It will take place within weeks of starting school and the information will be used to measure progress throughout primary school. Costing £10m, the scheme is due to be piloted from September and rolled out nationally next year.'
Read more: Parents and children march against plans to test four-year-olds
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