British primary schoolchildren could be involved in a trail for a new series of tests for five-year-olds.
Evidence of the pilot scheme was reportedly seen by The Telegraph in a Department for Education (DfE) “expression of interest” document published in early January.
The DfE told The Huffington Post UK that no decision has yet been made about whether the UK will be participating in the pilot program – which is set to run in September 2018 and has allegedly been rejected by education authorities in Germany, Sweden, Denmark and Belgium.
A DfE spokesperson said in a statement: “Making sure our youngest children are given the tools to achieve their full potential is vital, and high quality early education is such an important part of this. That’s why we are investing a record £6billion per year by 2020.”
The DfE provided no further comment on when a decision would be reached about the invitation to join the scheme.
The new exams will be tablet-based and run by the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD), a UK board, which states the study will “help participating countries to support all children get a strong start early in their lives”.
However, Peter Moss, Professor of early years education at University College London (UCL) told The Telegraph the exams could add to existing pressure on teachers to get their students through the tests.
“The big fear is that it’s going to reduce the diversity and creativity of approaches to early childhood development, as countries pursue better results in these tests,” he said.
“A lot of people in early years are concerned about that.”
The testing will look at four aspects of pupil development: literacy, language, verbal skills, numeracy and mathematics. As well as softer skills such as “self regulation”, “showing empathy and trust”, and paying attention in class.