Are Early Years Foundation Stage Profile scores being used to predict Sats results in YOUR CHILD’S school?

Time for Change. Picture by Frances Laing

Measuring things can be very useful, can’t it? Especially for small children. A tape measure is fun to use. Clocks tell us when it’s time for tea…(or in this case – hot chocolate in M and S). 

But (and it’s a big but) – targets can also distort the way we perceive our fellow human beings. I’ve come across considerable evidence to suggest that Early Years Foundation Stage Profile scores are currently being used to predict Sats results in some schools across the country.  

Why should I care about that?, you’re asking, when I’ve  got enough on my plate as a parent already in this fast-paced culture of ours? Here’s why:

Imagine you’ve logged on to one of those online bank accounts where you can input your pay, and all your direct debit amounts and then when you press a button you can predict how much (or how little) money you’ll have left at the end of the month after you’ve paid your bills. Using one set of profile  scores to predict another is a bit like doing this. Except your child is not a bank account – they’re a human being.

Think about your child’s education. Your little one is in the reception year at school. They may be only four or five years old. School report day is tabled in to the calendar for the end of term. You’ve read up a little bit on Early Years Foundation Stage Profiling and you’re expecting to hear something about this on the last parent’s evening of the year at school. 

If you’ve been following this blog so far, you’ll have your criticisms of the compulsory Early Years Foundation Stage Learning and Development Requirements which culminate in the Early Years Foundation Stage Profile to be completed in the year in which your child turns five.   

Now imagine the senior leadership team at your child’s school. It is consistently striving to improve standards (in fact, Ofsted polices it’s efforts in this direction on a regular basis). Your SLT team looks at profile scores very carefully – monitoring them to see whether they’re going up by satisfactory degrees during the course of an academic year. 

 Your school team is conscientious. In fact they’re so conscientious they decide to employ what they believe to be the most accurate statistical methods available to find out more about what is going to happen to their school (their staff and their funding) in future years. 

So they use the Early Years Profile Scores of a particular group of children to predict what the groups Sats results will be at the end of their children’s time at Primary School. 

A reasonable way of going about things you might be thinking. But there are several problems with this approach aren’t there? Firstly, I believe schools are not supposed to do this and secondly – in using Early Years Foundation Stage Profile scores to predict Sats results – your child’s first school years are reduced to a statistical probability – using a system that is flawed in the first place. Are you with me so far?

Surely, if Early Years Foundation Stage Profile Scores are being used  to predict Sats results, a range of fairly disastrous developments in your child’s educational career are likely, aren’t they?

 Let’s take two different scenarios…(leaving aside the issue of whether or not your child’s abilities and talents are being accurately measured, which if you ask me, given the nature of the EYFS learning and development requirements and the profiling is simply not the case) –  in the first scenario – imagine your child’s Early Years Foundation Stage Profile Scores are low compared with the other children in their class. If these scores are used to predict later achievement – aren’t the staff who read the results inevitably going to impose low expectations on your child?

Conversely, if your child’s Early Years Foundation Stage Profiles are high compared with other children in the class, then higher Sats scores may be predicted. Doesn’t this create unnecessary performance pressure from the start?

 Two days until the General Election. Shortly after that the next round of Sats tests will be talking place. Major teaching unions have launched a boycott against the Sats tests and they’re backed by many parents.

Sats reform must be linked to reform of the Early Years Foundation Stage.

P.S. This old-fashioned clock looks good doesn’t it? Like some attempts to measure children inappropriately in schools though, it broke down very soon after ‘purchase’ and we needed to exchange it…

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3 responses to this post.

  1. Hi,

    A very interesting article indeed!

    What do you think of this scenario? A school receives a child ready for learning with above average entry scores. The school then deliberately under-rates the child’s academic progress on the EYFS score and later, post SATS assessment can then claim a greater than average improvement rate in the school.

    Potentially corrupt but definitely plausible. What do you think?

    All the best,

    Mike

    Reply

  2. Posted by Michelle on September 7, 2010 at 7:38 pm

    Hi I am currently training to teach FS and I am hoping to conduct some academic research for dissertation just on this. I was wondering if you have come accross any other research that has been conducted about this? I do believe it is a problem and Ofsted in fact have a set of guidelines that we have to use in schools to predict results based on FS profile achievement.

    Reply

    • Posted by Frances Laing on September 9, 2010 at 6:25 pm

      Hello Michelle,
      Sorry for the delay in response, I’m completing a chapter for a book on early years education and close to the deadline. Your comment sounds worth pursuing and in answer to your question I have to say I’m not sure right now, but I will try to find out for your. Stay tuned it might take about a week but I’ll get back to you. Best, Frances

      Reply

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