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Information about assessment

Early years assessment (England)

Curriculum guidance for the foundation stage was first introduced in England in 2000 for children aged three to five years of age. Following a major review in 2010/11, the Early Years Foundation Stage framework was introduced from September 2012 and updated in September 2014. It sets the standards for Early Years providers for babies and young children (0-5) and consists of learning and development and safeguarding and welfare requirements.

A single statutory national assessment, the Foundation Stage Profile, to be completed at the end of the Reception year, was introduced in 2003. This Profile was developed by a consortium involving NFER and Birmingham City Education Service and assessed six areas of learning by means of 13 assessment scales. A revised version was introduced as part of the 2012 framework, comprising 17 Early Learning Goals across three prime areas of learning (personal, social and emotional development, physical development and communication and language) and four specific areas (literacy, mathematics, understanding the world and expressive arts and design).

In 2014 the Department for Education announced plans to introduce a reception baseline assessment at the start of reception. From 2016 this would be used as the basis for an accountability measure of the relative progress of a cohort of pupils from school entry to the end of key stage 2. Following a competitive tendering process six baseline providers were approved for use in schools in 2015 (later reduced to three: NFER, CEM and Early Excellence).

However, following a comparability study carried out in 2015 and published in 2016, plans to use multiple baselines for accountability purposes were abandoned. The Department for Education is considering ‘options for improving assessment arrangements in reception beyond 2016 to 2017’. In the interim they are continuing to fund the use of approved baseline schemes for schools who wish to use them..


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