News Story – 27 February 2019

The national pilot of the reception baseline assessment will take place from September 2019, go live in 2020, will take around 20 minutes, and will have the following 8 indicators:

  • mathematics tasks (45%-55%)
    • early number
    • early calculation (early addition/subtraction)
    • mathematical language
    • early understanding of shape
  • early literacy, communication and language tasks (45%-55%)
    • early vocabulary
    • phonological awareness
    • early reading
    • early comprehension

The response formats include:

  • oral response (30–40%)
  • pointing (25–35%)
  • ordering or moving objects (25–35%)

Schools can sign up to the pilot between 1 March and 5 April 2019.

The maximum number of marks available will be 45, although some tasks may be omitted that pupils are unlikely to be successful in. Each pupil will be presented with activities which are worth at least 26 marks – any omitted tasks will score zero. It is not a test, and there will be no pass mark. Early Years providers will receive narrative feedback instead of the score.

Why is reception baseline being done?

The purpose of the reception baseline assessment is to provide an on-entry assessment of pupil attainment to be used as a starting point from which a cohort-level progress measure to the end of key stage 2 (KS2) can be created.

This score will not be made available to schools, but will be recorded in the National Pupil Database. The reason for this non-provision to schools that the DfE have said is that “pupils will not be labelled”.
Statutory assessments at the end of Key Stage 1 will be removed for these pupils, when the system goes live.

The reception baseline is designed as a suitable assessment to be taken by pupils during their first half term in reception (the academic year in which they turn 5). All pupils should be assessed within the first 6 weeks of joining reception, regardless of when they join the class, if they have not been previously assessed.

Self-regulation tasks, i.e. working memory, inhibitory control and attentional flexibility, will not be included due to their early lack of reliability, but will be included in the reformed EYFSP.


It will be interesting to see how this works in practice, and whether schools are happy with this non-disclosure, and whether that is just for the pilot or for future years. It will be used to create a progress measure to the end of KS2, but a non-disclosure of pupils’ scores must add an element of uncertainty as to what the expected level at the end of Key Stage 2 will be.

It also raises the question as to what happens for pupils who join the school later than Reception (e.g. Year 1, Year 2). Will they be excluded from the progress calculations.

The planned removal of Key Stage 1 statutory assessments will also mean that there will be a reduced amount of data for infant and lower schools for Ofsted to use in their inspections, and more reliance will have to be taken from pupils’ works and talking to pupils and teachers.

Additional Information

For more information, please go to the DfE announcement of the Reception baseline assessment framework. This web page includes a video explaining the changes.

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