Thousands of children across the United Kingdom are to be tested separately starting September in new tests designed by the Department for Education. The tests, which will focus uniquely on numeracy and language, will target 4 and 5 year olds.
This has however sparked fears among parents that this opens the door to changes in the British Early Years Foundation Stage curriculum, taking preschool teaching back to long-gone eras while narrowing the teaching scope. The tests will be conducted one-on-one, with preschoolers given a tablet in which they will be tested on language and the ability to count while being assessed by a teacher. The results, say officials, will be used to measure progress by the time the child sits key stage 2 tests at age 11.
Parents are fearful that many late developing children, or those whose strengths lie outside of language and mathematics, will be branded from an early age, setting a shaky foundation for their future education from which it could potentially be hard or impossible to recover.
The stress evoked by being tested in a confined environment away from the normal space children are used to has also generated further concern.
Many parents are still unaware of the tests, as according to the Department for Education, it is up to the discretion of the schools whether to inform them.
Nancy Stewart, of the campaign group More than a Score, told the Guardian newspaper that parents have a right to know if the government is testing their child and holding the results. “We think parents should know that the first few weeks of their child’s time in reception class could be disrupted by these unnecessary tests. We urge parents to ask their child’s teacher and headteacher if they are going to take place,” she says.