Detailed guide: Reception baseline assessment

Standards Testing Agency

February 23
09:32 2021


In response to the 2017 primary assessment consultation, the government announced plans to introduce a statutory reception baseline assessment (RBA) in autumn 2020. Due to the challenges faced by schools because of COVID-19, statutory introduction of the RBA has been postponed to autumn 2021. Instead, all schools had the opportunity to sign up to the RBA early adopter year in autumn 2020.

Early adopter year

The administration window for the RBA early adopter year has closed.

Schools that applied to become early adopters of the RBA in autumn 2020 had the opportunity to familiarise themselves with the RBA and training materials, ahead of the planned statutory roll out in autumn 2021. Participation was optional, even after signing up. Early adopter schools received assessment materials before the October 2020 half term, and the optional assessment window opened for 6-weeks after the October half term.

During the summer term 2020, 3,878 schools signed up to receive materials for the early adopter year. In the autumn, a total of 2,980 schools logged into the Baseline ePortal (BeP) and 2,731 carried out assessments with their pupils. In total, 88,947 pupils completed the assessment.

Data gathered from the early adopter year will not be used for the purpose of the progress measure, and a full privacy notice is available on the NfER website.

What will be assessed?

The RBA will be an activity-based assessment of pupils starting point in:

  • language, communication, and literacy
  • mathematics

The assessment will be age-appropriate, last approximately 20 minutes and teachers will record the results on a laptop, computer or tablet. It will not be used to label or track individual pupils. No numerical score will be shared and the data will only be used at the end of year 6 to form the school-level progress measure. However, teachers will receive a series of short, narrative statements that tell them how their pupils performed in the assessment at that time. These can be used to inform teaching within the first term. When statutory from September 2021, schools will carry out the assessment within the first 6 weeks of children starting school.

Measuring progress

The new assessment will enable us to create school-level progress measures for primary schools which show the progress pupils make from reception until the end of key stage 2 (KS2). Unlike the current progress measure, this will give schools credit for the important work they do with their pupils between reception and year 2.

We will publish these measures for all-through primaries in the summer of 2028 for the first time. This will be when those pupils who entered reception in autumn 2021 reach the end of KS2.

Assessment development process

The National Foundation for Educational Research (NFER) has been contracted by STA to develop and deliver the assessment. This includes the trial, pilot, and early adopter phases.

The assessment was trialled in a nationally representative sample of schools between September and November 2018. This was followed by a large-scale, voluntary national pilot, which commenced in September 2019. Schools chose to participate in the RBA early adopter year in autumn 2020.

Reception baseline and key stage 1 assessments

The existing key stage 1 (KS1) assessments - both national curriculum tests and teacher assessments - will become non-statutory once the reception baseline is fully established.

Reception baseline assessment framework

The RBA framework is now available. This provides an overview of what the assessment is and how it will be carried out. Alongside the framework, we have published an information sheet explaining how the framework was developed, with the rationale for its content.

Reception baseline assessment validity report

The RBA validity report is now available. This provides the evidence gathered throughout the process of developing the RBA to demonstrate the validity argument of the assessment.

Further information

If you have any questions about the reception baseline assessment, please contact 0330 088 4171.

Published 11 April 2018
Last updated 23 February 2021 +show all updates
  1. Updated as early adopter applications for the reception baseline assessment has closed. The statutory introduction of the RBA remains postponed to autumn 2021.

  2. Updated to reflect Reception baseline assessment changes due to Covid-19

  3. Recruitment window now open

  4. First published.

Related Articles


  1. We don't have any comments for this article yet. Why not join in and start a discussion.

Write a Comment

Your name:
Your email:

Post my comment

Recent Comments

Follow Us on Twitter

Share This

Enjoyed this? Why not share it with others if you've found it useful by using one of the tools below: