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IOE Blog


Expert opinion from IOE, UCL's Faculty of Education and Society


New study: empowering teachers, children and parents is the way to achieve the best early childhood education and care

By Blog Editor, IOE Digital, on 22 July 2020

Yuwei Xu, Clare Brooks, Jie Gao and Eleanor Kitto.

The need to educate young children from home during the Covid crisis has caused early years staff and parents to rethink their roles.

At the IOE’s Centre for Teacher and Early Years Education (CTEY) we carried out an analysis of 19 national and regional early childhood curriculum frameworks across five continents. It reveals that most education systems see empowering educators, parents, and children as essential for effective and high-quality Early Childhood Education and Care (ECEC).

Government evaluation reports on those national frameworks make it clear that educators, parents, and children should all be involved both in the policy making of (more…)

Covid-19 and early years education and care: not the time for baseline assessment

By Blog Editor, IOE Digital, on 25 June 2020

Guy Roberts-Holmes, Siew Fung Lee and Diana Sousa.

The Covid-19 crisis means that young children have had prolonged absence from nurseries, and lost the chance to interact with their peers.  As Shadow Schools Minister Margaret Greenwood has told the Government, ‘Some will have lost parents, grandparents or other family members, while others will have simply struggled, like millions of others across the UK, with living in lockdown, unable to play with their friends’.

This means that early years teachers and care workers need to focus even more than usual on children’s well-being and mental health. We argue that the DFE’s latest iteration of Reception Baseline Assessment (RBA) is an unnecessary distraction at a time like this.

Fortunately, the DFE has taken on board our concerns and those of others and has just announced that the RBA’s introduction is to be postponed for a year.

As many parents, teachers and children have experienced, home learning is no easy substitute for socially inclusive and participatory (more…)

The early years – moving beyond ‘splashes of colour here and there’

By Blog Editor, IOE Digital, on 26 June 2019

IOE Events.

Our latest IOE debate looked at the start of the educational journey – the early years. What would we need to do in order to secure world-leading early years provision? The answer from our panel is one that arguably applies across the different phases of our education system: we already have world-leading provision, but that’s often in spite of government policy, and is yet to be enjoyed across all provision.

What, then, should be done with government early years policy, and how can we build a world-leading early years sector, not just a scattering of world-leading provision? To answer those questions we were delighted to welcome: Jan Dubiel, early childhood education consultant; June O’Sullivan MBE, Chief Executive at the London Early Years Foundation; Helen Ward, reporter on early years and primary education at The TES; and Dominic Wyse, Professor in Early Childhood and Primary Education, UCL Institute of Education.

So, where is this world-leading provision? According to our panel, (more…)

Baseline assessment: will early childhood education be further commercialised?

By Blog Editor, IOE Digital, on 2 April 2019

Guy Roberts-Holmes. 

Last month the Department for Education (DfE) invited primary schools to volunteer to take part in the national Reception Baseline Assessment 2 (RBA2) test pilot planned for September 2019. If successful, it will be made statutory for all primary schools in 2020.

The DfE states that RBA2’s purpose is to provide a snapshot starting point for a measure to assess the progress of the cohort as a whole, from where pupils are when they arrive at reception class aged 4 to the end of primary school in Year 6, aged 11.

This is not the English Government’s first attempt at a national Baseline Assessment test for four-year-olds. That was in 2016, when it was scrapped  as a performance measure (more…)

Six reasons why Baseline the Sequel will be a harder sell

By Blog Editor, IOE Digital, on 29 November 2017

Alice Bradbury. 
Last week the government announced details of their latest attempt to introduce Baseline Assessment into Reception classrooms in England. As widely reported, this policy will cost £10 million, with the sole aim of producing data on children aged four which can be compared with their test results seven years later. The return of Baseline, after an unsuccessful foray into testing four-year-olds in 2015, is based on the idea that the best way to judge schools is to measure their ‘value added’. The outcome of the Primary Assessment Consultation was that the best place to establish this starting point was in the first weeks of school in Reception.
There is a certain logic to this, and the resultant possible downgrading of Key Stage 1 Sats to non-statutory in 2023 (as they will no longer be needed as a starting point) may be popular. But, the findings from my research on the previous version of Baseline (with Guy Roberts-Holmes), suggest that (more…)

Reception baseline assessment: dangerous, inappropriate and flawed data

By Blog Editor, IOE Digital, on 15 September 2017

Alice Bradbury and Guy Roberts-Holmes. 
In its response to the consultation document Primary Assessment in England  the Government announced its intention to make baseline assessment statutory (along with the existing EYFS Profile) from Autumn 2020. Justine Greening’s Ministerial forward states that the Reception Baseline Assessment ‘must produce data that is reliable and trusted’.
However our research into the 2015 Reception Baseline Assessment, which involved interviewing Reception teachers and a nationwide survey of teachers, found that the data it produced were unreliable and not trustworthy. Even with a newly introduced cohort level analysis we contend that Reception Baseline Assessment will still produce inappropriate, flawed and inaccurate data.
This announcement follows the failed policy of Reception Baseline Assessment, introduced (more…)

Baseline assessment and the commodification of 4-year-olds' knowledge

By Blog Editor, IOE Digital, on 10 May 2016

Guy Roberts-Holmes
Last month, the Government withdrew its requirement for schools to use officially endorsed Baseline assessment in Reception classes. This regime, I would contest, was not simply about children and their learning, nor assessment or accountability. Rather, baseline was as an attempt to further regulate early education for edu-business. What baseline assessment did was to datafy and commodify four-year-olds’ knowledge and learning for profit. Although baseline is no longer mandatory, the DfE is still urging schools to buy the commercially produced assessments. Baseline has become a part of the growing educational digital data economy in which new forms of educational data knowledge are generated, commodified and sold for profit. It is claimed that datasets such as baseline have the potential to offer unprecented digital data governance. So, for example, baseline data on four year olds can be ‘scaled up’ and agreggated into big datasets of commercial interest and governance.
Around 12,000 primary schools adopted one of the three edu-businesses who were selected by the DfE to run the baseline assessments at an estimated cost of £3.5-£4.5 million (excluding the costs to schools employing supply cover whilst the Reception (more…)