Reception baseline assessment

Information about the development of an assessment for pupils in reception to measure their progress in primary schools from 2020.


In response to the 2017 primary assessment consultation, the government announced plans to introduce a statutory reception baseline assessment (RBA) in autumn 2020.

We will use it as the baseline for measuring the progress primary schools make with their pupils.

What will be assessed?

Schools will carry out the assessment within the first 6 weeks of children starting school. It will be an activity based assessment of pupils’ ability 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.

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 2027 for the first time. This will be when those pupils who entered reception in autumn 2020 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 and pilot phases and the first 2 years of statutory delivery.

The assessment was trialled in a nationally representative sample of schools between September and November 2018. The next stage in the development process is a large-scale voluntary pilot, which will commence in September 2019. The timeline is as follows:

Date Activity
11 April 2018 Announcement of preferred bidder
September 2018 Trialling in a nationally representative sample of schools
1 March - 5 April 2019 Pilot recruitment window
September 2019 Large-scale voluntary pilot
September 2020 Scheduled roll out as a statutory assessment
September 2022 Key stage 1 assessment becomes non-statutory
September 2027 First progress scores published

How schools can get involved

State funded schools with a reception cohort will be able to participate in our national voluntary pilot of the RBA starting in September 2019.

The recruitment window for schools to sign up opened on 1 March and closed on 5 April 2019. There are over 9,600 schools registered to participate in the pilot this autumn.

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.

The earliest this can happen is from the 2022/23 academic year onwards. This is when the first cohort of pupils who have taken part in the pilot of the new baseline assessment will have reached the end of KS1.

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.

Standards and Testing Agency

For general enquiries about national curriculum tests.

Published 11 April 2018
Last updated 27 February 2019 + show all updates
  1. Recruitment window now open
  2. First published.