1. ITV Report

'Fills me with horror': Mum tells of her concerns over primary school tests for four-year-olds

Four-year-olds who will be starting school in England in September have plenty to look forward to but what they might not realise is some may face a test within a few weeks of hanging their coats on their new pegs.

Mum and school governor Kay Tart said the concept of testing on young children "fills her with horror" and added "it's ridiculous".

The pilot will be adopted in schools this year but the Department for Education (DfE) insists: "The reception baseline assessment is not a test" - despite the fact children will have to answer questions for 20 minutes.

Many teachers and parents are against the idea and a 65,000 strong petition has been handed in to Downing Street on Thursday.

Alex Harrison (left), Isla Tart and Safa Patel outside 10 Downing Street. Credit: PA

Hundreds of people, including other four-year-olds, parents, teachers and MPs, marched from Parliament Square to protest against a 20-minute "baseline assessment" that children could soon be sitting within their first term at school.

Although campaigners say children will be subject to tests, the DfE contends this is not the case because there is no pass mark and no reason for pupils to be prepared for it.

Protesters gather in Parliament Square before delivering the petition. Credit: PA
  • What is the reception baseline assessment?

The idea is to provide a baseline from which a schools' teaching can be judged from reception to year six.

This means when children enter the school in September 2020, four and five-year-olds will be taken out of the classroom around six weeks after starting school.

  • How does it work?

The assessment will be a one-to-one with a teacher who will ask the child questions from an electronic tablet device.

The pilot will run this September in some schools and will then be rolled out across England in 2020.

Schools will be unable see the data as it will be sent to the DfE who will then compare it to results from same children seven years later.

Approximate cost of the new test for four-year-olds and five-year-olds.
  • How have teachers reacted to this?

A primary school headteacher in Leeds has told ITV News Correspondent Lucy Watson he does not want to see more tests for children.

Chris Dyson, Headteacher of Parklands Primary School is Leeds is against the idea of testing four and five-year-olds. Credit: ITV News

Chris Dyson said: "They seem to be testing and testing and testing and testing and headteachers don't want this testing situation to continue, we want it reduced."

He added: "We need to get them enjoying school not preparing them for a test situation."

But the DfE maintains it is not the pupils who are being examined.

School Standards Minister Nick Gibb insists it is the schools that are being assessed. Credit: ITV News

School Standards Minister Nick Gibb said the baseline assessment is "a much fairer way" to measure progress.

He told ITV News: "It's not even about the children, it's about the school.

"It's about how do you hold the school to account in a fair way that measures the progress in a child from when they start at reception to when they leave in year six."

A DfE spokesperson added: "The reception baseline assessment is not a test. It does not have a pass mark, and there is no reason for parents or teachers to prepare pupils ahead of the assessment, which has been carefully designed with children in mind.

"Carried out in the right way, children should not even be aware an assessment is taking place."