So, your children have settled into new routines and are happy coming into and engaging with their new environment. You know about your children from parents, previous settings and from your interactions. What’s next? How do you know the starting point of each child’s learning journey? How will you ensure you are building on children’s knowledge and skills?
Answer: Carry out a baseline assessment
What is a Baseline Assessment?
A baseline assessment enables you to get a clear picture of children as they enter your setting. It is a simple assessment that covers all areas of the EYFS and helps you to build a holistic understanding of all children. This includes finding out about their interests and preferences through to their academic abilities.
Why are they important?
Baseline assessments are important as they allow you to identify each child’s starting point. From here you can plan to meet the individual needs and interests of children, inform learning, ensure progression and identify learning gaps.
Furthermore, EYFS baselines assessments can help to inform practitioners about readiness to learn, social skills and emotional awareness, to prevent these becoming barriers to learning.
Reception Statutory Baseline
The Reception Baseline Assessment or RBA is a statutory assessment undertaken within the first six weeks of a child entering a reception setting. This could be at the usual point in early September or later in the year. This assessment has been designed as a means of providing a snapshot as children enter Reception to then be used as a measure of primary schools. The data will be used to make comparisons between Reception and the end of Key Stage Two.
The RBA assesses two key areas- language, communication and literacy and maths. As the assessment only tracks these areas and cannot be used as a tracking system or measure of progress for individual pupils it is not appropriate as a stand alone baseline. NFER (2021), who helped to develop the test for the DfE have clarified, “RBA is not designed to replace good practice in schools in terms of their on entry assessments”.
Further Information can be found here.. https://www.gov.uk/guidance/reception-baseline-assessment
Baselines through play
Reflecting on the statement by the NFER (2021), it is clear that they do not expect the RBA to be used as the only EYFS baseline assessments. Dr Guy Roberts (2020) found the RBA assessed school based literacy and numeracy skills but does not provide a holistic overview of the child. Therefore it is important that EYFS Teachers conduct their own baselines. This is because it helps us to develop a full and clear picture of the whole child on which to build.
I believe that we should conduct EYFS baseline assessments through play. We should be learning about children’s interests and unique personalities through engaging with them in a play based environment. Using a simple overview baseline assessment recording sheet enables you to get a brief overview of where children are at that set point in time and gives you something tangible to refer to as you assess progress over the coming year.
The Is it Time to Play? EYFS Baseline Assessments
The baseline assessment from Is it Time to Play? is a simple recording sheet that allows practitioners to make notes about children and their next steps over a set time period (usually 2-4 weeks) which builds up a full picture of children. For practitioners who need extra support with the learning and development steps, it also provides an overview of the key learning descriptors (linked to Development Matters, 2020) and gives ideas for play based activities. Find it here… EYFS BASELINE ASSESSMENT
Top Tips for EYFS Baseline Assessments
- Use settle in time before completing any baseline assessments as this will provide a more accurate reflection of the whole child
- Assessments should reflect the whole child including their specific needs and interests
- Include the child’s voice where possible
- Use play based interactions and activities to gather assessment information
- Collect information about the children over an extended time (2-4 weeks) to ensure you observe an accurate picture
Enjoy these first few weeks with your new class, it was always my favourite few weeks of teaching 😀