Reception baseline

Feel Confident About Reception Baseline

Update: The baseline posed some interesting scenarios for many schools and for those that chose to participate this year they had the chance to work out some of the logistics and whether they liked the chosen system or not. Most schools now have data to support their own baseline observations and have used this as a useful comparison. It will be interesting to see how the DfE interpret the information they have received and what they decide to do next. Watch this space!


The time to complete the new reception baseline is upon us.

No matter which provider you are using, I am sure you have thought long and hard about planning the delivery of this piece of work and you are well prepared.

With this in mind, I have compiled a list of tips to help you to feel confident in completing your reception baseline.

Plan for Progress in Reception Baseline

Consider how you will gather information to complement the main focus of the reception baseline information required by the Department for Education.

For example, if you have initial concerns about a child, where will you record this?

If you notice a child exhibiting behaviour around a particular schema, or showing a preference for a particular type of play, how will you ensure you can take account of this when you plan for progress?


Balance Your Time

If your chosen method takes you away from the majority of your class, don’t forget to balance your time between the children completing the reception baseline and the other children in the classroom.


Set Boundaries & Expectations

All children need to become familiar with all the adults in the classroom.

They need to understand your boundaries, your expectations and, at the very least, they need to be familiar with your voice!


Gather Information

Contact parents and families and gather as much information from them as you can.

Don’t forget that parents are the child’s first and most enduring educator.

Information gathering can start during home visits and during children’s visits to school.

Keep them informed about the reception baseline and encourage them to give as much information as possible.

It is important that you gather the information needed as soon as possible to ensure the baseline is accurate.


Be Quick

Complete the reception baseline as quickly as possible.

This may take longer in some schools than others and this can be because of different arrangements for transition into school.

You are so brilliant at providing wonderful, educationally rich environments and playing alongside children to move their learning on, you will be teaching them (whether you like it or not) from the moment they enter school.

This means you are influencing their learning and their ‘starting point’ is altering on a daily basis.


Stick to Your Plan!

Plan the first few weeks and stick to the plan – don’t be distracted by what other schools are doing.

You will probably learn a great deal from this baseline delivery and much of the information you gather will probably inform you what not to do next year!


Be Flexible with Timings

Be wary of the timings given from the providers; I know some say that the reception baseline can be delivered in 20 minutes.

However you can guarantee that children will want to go to the toilet, play elsewhere or will want to go home as soon as you start your baseline.

Build flexibility into your timings.


Ask for Help

Ask for help if things are not going to plan. Don’t be tempted to fill in the gaps based on what you think you know.


Give Feedback

This is a very important year for the Department for Education to test out the providers and the accuracy of the data being gathered.

Someone from the Department for Education may contact you for feedback and to make comparisons.

Be open and honest with them.

Some schools have been asked to complete the reception baseline from two different providers; the Department for Education will need accurate feedback to assess the effectiveness of each baseline.

Ensure you feed back to the providers so they can learn from your experiences from the delivery of their baseline.


Don’t Worry

Be confident.

Be relaxed.

You will not damage children through this process.

I remain convinced that this is not going to tell us anything about children’s starting points that we don’t already know or have not already gleaned from other methods of base lining in the past.


Get in Touch

If you still have questions about the reception baseline changes or want to talk about different options, join us on Twitter @FocusEducation1 or for resources and publications related to Early Years, get in touch with the Focus Education office on 01457 821 818. 

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