'Sophia is four and shy, especially around strangers. In September she starts school and Hayley Phillips, her mother, already worried about how her daughter will settle in, has found out she will have to sit a test.
In the first six weeks of the new school year, four- and five-year-olds in nearly 10,000 schools, about half of the primary schools in England, will be taken out of class and asked questions for the new reception baseline assessment (RBA).
Phillips knew to ask about the assessments because she is a teacher at another school, but most parents will be unaware they are happening. Parents have no legal right to know – according to the Department for Education (DfE), it is up to the discretion of the individual school’s whether to inform them.
Nancy Stewart, of the campaign group More Than a Score, argues that parents have a right to know if the government is testing their child and holding the results. “We think parents should know that the first few weeks of their child’s time in reception class could be disrupted by these unnecessary tests. We urge parents to ask their child’s teacher and headteacher if they are going to take place,” she says.
According to the government, the controversial test is a “20-minute check of language and ability to count” that will provide a snapshot of children’s development when they start school “just like checking their teeth or eyesight”. The results will be used to measure progress by the time the child sits key stage 2 tests at age 11. Many teachers and child development experts are fiercely opposed to the test, arguing it will lead to more formalised teaching and less play.
Phillips, from Sevenoaks, Kent, wants to withdraw her daughter, but parents have no right to do so.'
Read more: Testing four-year-olds to begin in September – but parents kept in dark
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