Reception Baseline Research: Views of Teachers, School Leaders, Parents and Carers: Research Report

Sarah Lynch, David Sims, Heather Bamforth

16 July 2015

Research report on the DfE website | Research brief on the DfE website

From September 2016, the new reception baseline will be the only measure used to assess the progress of children in primary schools from entry (at age 4-5) to the end of key stage 2 (age 10-11). The Department for Education (DfE) commissioned NFER to research the accountability context of the reforms and to investigate the most useful reporting formats. This research was carried out alongside a quantitative study conducted by the Centre for Evaluation and Monitoring (CEM) at Durham University, which aimed to investigate schools’ behaviour changes in response to the accountability reforms.

The NFER research involved: an online survey of 356 staff across 296 schools; telephone interviews with 51 staff; and focus groups with 47 parents from ten schools. The fieldwork took place between October – December 2014.

Key Findings

  • All of the schools surveyed were already using some form of on-entry assessment – often used for purposes beyond the aims of the reception baseline (such as to inform targeted teaching at an individual pupil-level, to inform what and how to teach the whole class, and to verify data from early childhood education settings).
  • Almost all schools were going to use an approved reception baseline product. Schools were interested in comparing their performance with other local schools. In this context, some were concerned about consistency of administration, which could impact on comparability.
  • Staff would prefer to communicate the outcomes of the reception baseline to parents orally, because this would give them the opportunity to contextualise the results.
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