Welcoming proposals put forward for consultation by the School Curriculum and Assessment Authority, (SCAA) Mrs Shephard said:
'In our drive to serve our children well and raise standards, it is essential that teachers and parents know what their children have already mastered and what their future learning needs are. These assessments will help schools give all children the best start possible as they enter school.'
The proposals would:
-- require in all cases coverage of the basic skills of literacy and numeracy and encourage coverage of a wide range of other important aspects of development
-- specify a careful early assessment, establishing a baseline from which pupils' progress through school can be measured; and be manageable for teachers
'I know that many LEAs and schools already assess children on entry to school. This enables schools to plan their delivery of the National Curriculum accordingly and to provide learning activities that match the needs of the children. SCAA's proposals build on the work already being done locally.
'With the launch of the consultation we are on track to introduce nationwide baseline assessment for five year olds from September 1997 as part of the Government's continued drive to raise standards in education.
'I look forward to receiving Sir Ron Dearing's advice next January on the way forward.'
-- SCAA's consultation will run to 8 November. Comments on the proposals should be sent to SCAA, Newcombe House, 45 Notting Hill Gate, London, W11 3JB. SCAA will submit final advice to the secretary of state in January 1997.
-- It is planned to introduce baseline assessment on a voluntary basis from September 1997, moving to statutory provision by September 1998.