Welcome to More Than a Score

Baseline Assessment – the test that nobody wants

Read the case against baseline assessment HERE (dossier)

Watch our video HERE

Read our press release HERE.

Baseline is criticised by teachers, researchers, statisticians – and even the by the companies who were involved in the DfE’s last attempt to introduce it in 2015. More than a Score is campaigning to ensure this implausible and much criticised proposal never gets off the ground.

Too much, too young. Don’t test four-year-olds

The government is spending more than £10 million to bring back its failed baseline assessment scheme. If it goes ahead, almost every four-year-old in England will be tested when they enter school.

Our new leaflet explains why this is pointless and damaging. You can download it here or by clicking on the image.

We want an assessment system that actively supports primary children in their learning, and promotes excellent educational practice.

The government is further away than ever from creating such a system.

In September, the Department for Education published a ‘response to consultation’ which laid down what it hopes will be the system for the next ten years. The DfE intends that:

  • Key Stage 2 SATs will remain compulsory
  • Key Stage 1 SATs will be compulsory until 2022, and after that will still
    be available for schools to use
  • From 2020, a new baseline assessment will be introduced for 4-year-
  • The Phonics Check will remain, and a new multiplication check will be
    introduced in Year 4

Starting in 2017/18 there will be changes to the framework for teachers’ assessment of children’s writing, to make marking more flexible.

This isn’t good for children, and it isn’t what teachers and parents want. It is a system which favours teaching to the test, and which narrows the curriculum down to what can be tested, no matter what the consequences for children’s well-being. It is more about producing scores, and holding schools accountable for them, than about promoting and sustaining learning.

Few other countries have imposed a system like this.
Wales and Scotland, with the support of international organisations like the OECD, have chosen a different road. Educationally successful countries, like those in Scandinavia, have little in common with the English model. They prioritise the rights and dispositions of learners, and educational practice which works with the grain of children’s learning. Within England itself,
opposition is rising. The Royal Society, the House of Commons Education Committee and the Royal Society for Arts have all expressed their concerns.

The organisations – 17 and rising – who have joined together in MTAS comprise parents, educationalists and teachers.

In the next few months, we will be campaigning:

  • to stop the restoration of baseline assessment – we will track at every step of the way the trialling and piloting of the new tests. We will confront policy-makers with the evidence of researchers and the experience of teachers: testing four-year- olds is not a reliable or a valid exercise, and cannot be used to predict their later performance.
  • to expose the nonsense of the phonics check: researchers have shown that the decisive factor in improving children’s reading is the time they spend with books and reading for meaning; but the demands of the phonics check are an obstacle to this.
  • to highlight and oppose the effects of SATs on the quality of children’s learning and on wellbeing in schools. We know that secondary schools are now inheriting large numbers of children who have failed SATs and are disengaged from education. We know that SATs are widely criticised by parents and teachers: we want to make that criticism into a movement that is impossible for politicians to ignore.
  • to ensure that all political parties include in their manifestos clear opposition to baseline assessment and to the current system of primary assessment, and that they pledge themselves to working towards an alternative.

We will make primary assessment and education which is fit for learners the issue that does not go away.

Had enough of SATS? So has one leading ex-head of an Outstanding school. Here’s his must-see SATS manifesto…


On November 18th, the Department for Education posted a ‘Prior Information Notice’ alerting commercial providers of a new business opportunity: it intends to ‘run a competitive procurement process for the development and delivery of an assessment for Reception aged children to baseline their prior attainment at their point of entry to the English schools system (a Reception Baseline Assessment). The cost: upwards of £9.8 million.

The duration of the contract will cover: ‘any necessary trialling of the material in the 2018/19 academic year; a national pilot in the 2019/20 academic year for the September intake … and then 2 years of statutory delivery of the assessment to all reception pupils in England in the academic years 2020/21 and 2021/22’.

A few days later, psychologist Pam Jarvis published in the TES a devastating critique of Baseline Assessment here: baseline rests on the illusion that the attainment of 4- year-olds can be measured in a way that allows reliable predictions of their later progress. This is not a harmless illusion. Schools (and early years settings) will teach to the baseline test. In doing so they will narrow children’s learning opportunities, and hold back their development.

Baseline Assessment has failed before. Outside the DfE and the companies which will bid for the contract, support for it is not widespread. More than a Score, alongside the Better without Baseline campaign LINK, will work to ensure that its impossible and harmful dreams do not come true.

More than a Score statement on the Report of the House of Commons Education Committee

The Report says:’ this high-stakes system does not improve teaching and learning in primary schools’. We completely agree.

This is a break-through report. (CLICK HERE TO READ MORE)

An Alternative System for Primary Assessment

Drawing from international experience and research findings, More Than a Score has produced its alternative – an alternative that shows how assessment can support learning, and underpin a high quality system of primary education, without the negative effects of present arrangements. Read the More Than a Score vision for primary assessment here.

Get involved with the local More Than a Score campaign in your area

Use our interactive map here to find a More Than a Score group near you.

Recent Posts

Baseline Assessment: Pointless & Damaging

Today the Department for Education announced that it is awarding the National Foundation for Educational Research the £10 million contract to develop Baseline Assessment of all four years olds in England. At the weekend the TES featured an open letter from More Than a Score and more than 700 leading academics and teachers opposing the introduction of … Continue reading Baseline Assessment: Pointless & Damaging

Baseline update: now even the providers are attacking the new plans

Objections to the government’s intention to bring back baseline assessment are increasing – with the growing chorus now joined by the organisations who provided the tests last time. In 2015 when the government last tried to bring in baseline in it chose three providers to implement the tests: Early Excellence, the Centre for Evaluating and … Continue reading Baseline update: now even the providers are attacking the new plans

Government statement on Primary Assessment 14th September 2017

More than a Score Response More than a Score is a coalition of parents and educators who want to see an alternative to England’s present system of primary assessment , which damages children’s learning and narrows their experience of education. Madeleine Holt, representing More Than a Score, said: Justine Greening hopes that this statement will … Continue reading Government statement on Primary Assessment 14th September 2017

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