Teachers are hesitant about the introduction of official tests for four year-olds. This has been established following the publication of a report commissioned by the National Union of Teachers (NUT) and the Association of Teachers and Lecturers (ATL).
Researchers from the University of London carried out in-depth interviews with staff in five primary schools piloting the assessments, and quizzed 1,131 NUT and ATL members in a snapshot survey.
Teachers raised concerns with researchers that the tests distracted them from getting to know their pupils. Many said the tests themselves were unreliable, duplicated work and did not marry with existing assessment systems.
The tests were brought into some schools in September 2015 and are due to be introduced to all schools from this September. They measure basic reading ability, numeracy and writing skills, as well as children's social and emotional development.
This is done in one-to-one assessments with teachers, who use checklists that include a series of questions such as whether a pupil can maintain concentration when listening to others or can subtract using single digit numbers.
The baseline assessment aims to establish each child's level of development at the beginning of school, so that the progress they make by the time they leave can be measured.
In some schools, extra teachers had to be employed to teach while the class teachers carried out the one-to-one assessments on each pupil, researchers said.
One teacher said: "If you have got 60 young people coming in... and you have to tick 47 boxes about all of them, of course your mind is going to be on that rather than talking to them about their nice shiny shoes and about their pet rabbit at home."
Of those surveyed, 59 per cent said that the assessment had disrupted the start of school for new pupils.
Just under a third of those surveyed (31.5 per cent) said the assessments were an accurate reflection of children's attainment at this stage.
Posted by Theo Foulds