Alliance responds to government's baseline assessment contract announcement

Commenting on the news that the Department for Education has chosen the NFER as the preferred supplier to design and deliver the reception baseline assessment, Neil Leitch, chief executive of the Pre-school Learning Alliance, said:

“The simple fact is that no test-condition assessment can be designed well enough to reflect the complexities and variation of a child in reception. A baseline test, conducted on a tablet and before a teacher has had a chance to develop a relationship with the child, won’t tell teachers anything about the children they work with and won’t be of any use to parents. Instead, what it will do is pile pressure on to our very youngest children: from those forced to sit an exam at the tender age of four to those in settings under pressure to get pre-schoolers ‘test ready’.

“Ministers’ determination to see this through would be admirable were it not so wrong-headed. This policy has failed twice before and there must be very few parents, teachers or academics who believe this time will be any different. The fact that some of the companies involved in the last abandoned attempt to introduce baseline ruled themselves out of contention completely this time around speaks volumes.

“The government is completely isolated on this issue and must reflect on why that is, rather than pushing forward with this damaging experiment on children taking their first steps in formal education.”


  • The Pre-school Learning Alliance is the largest and most representative early years membership organisation in England. A registered educational charity, it also provides high-quality affordable childcare and education to support children and families in areas of deprivation throughout the country. 
  • The Alliance represents 14,000 member settings and supports them to deliver care and learning to more than 800,000 families every year. We deliver family learning projects, offer information and advice, produce specialist publications, run acclaimed training and accreditation schemes and campaign to influence early years policy and practice.

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