Information from Pilot of the Reception Baseline Assessment

Roedd y cais yn rhannol lwyddiannus.

Dear Department for Education,

This FOI refers to the following document, published on 27 February 2019 on the gov.uk website: https://assets.publishing.service.gov.uk....

Please could you provide me with the following:

- Details of the early years practitioners, teacher panel, and assessment and inclusion experts involved in the development. If you are unable to provide names of those involved, please confirm how many people were involved in each category and whether there was any overlap between the groups.

- The full analysis of the trialling data that you have completed.

- The practitioner feedback from a questionnaire sent to all schools involved in the trial, and any summary you have done of the responses to the questionnaire.

- Any analysis you undertook of how long it took the participants in the trial to perform the assessment. Please include details of averages and the shortest/longest times.

- Details of any practitioner feedback that indicated that children were upset at any time during the trials of the test.

Yours faithfully,

Sue Cowley

MINISTERS, Department for Education

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ACCOUNT, Unmonitored, Department for Education

Dear Ms. Cowley,

 

Thank you for your request for information, which was received on 4^th
March 2019. You requested

 

Please could you provide me with the following:

 

1.     Details of the early years practitioners, teacher panel, and
assessment and inclusion experts involved in the development. If you are
unable to provide names of those involved, please confirm how many people
were involved in each category and whether there was any overlap between
the groups.

2.     The full analysis of the trialling data that you have completed.

 

3.     The practitioner feedback from a questionnaire sent to all schools
involved in the trial, and any summary you have done of the responses to
the questionnaire.

4.     Any analysis you undertook of how long it took the participants in
the trial to perform the assessment. Please include details of averages
and the shortest/longest times.

 

5.     Details of any practitioner feedback that indicated that children
were upset at any time during the trials of the test.

 

I am dealing with your request under the Freedom of Information Act 2000
(“the Act”).

 

The Department holds the information you have requested.  However, I
consider that the following exemption(s) apply to your request:

 

Section 35(1) relates to the development of government policy. We are
considering this exemption as the reception baseline assessment remains
under development at this time.

 

The Act obliges the Department to respond to requests promptly, and in any
case no later than 20 working days after receiving your request.  However,
where the exemption listed above is applicable, the Department must
consider whether the public interest lies in disclosing or withholding the
information.  In these circumstances the Act allows the time for response
to be longer than 20 working days.

 

In your case the Department estimates that it will take an additional 10
working days to take a decision on where the balance of the public
interest lies.  It is anticipated that you will receive a full response by
15^th April 2019.  If it appears that it will take longer than this to
reach a conclusion, we will keep you informed.

 

If you have any queries about this letter, please contact me.  Please
remember to quote the reference number above in any future
communications. 

 

If you are unhappy with the way your request has been handled, you should
make a complaint to the Department by writing to me within two calendar
months of the date of this letter.  Your complaint will be considered by
an independent review panel, which were not involved in the original
consideration of your request. 

 

If you are not content with the outcome of your complaint to the
Department, you may then contact the Information Commissioner’s Office. 

 

Yours sincerely,

 

Kathryn Dwyer

ACCOUNT, Unmonitored, Department for Education

Dear Ms. Cowley,

 

As you are aware, the Department holds the information you have requested
and is currently considering that the following exemption(s) apply to your
request: 

Section 35(1) relates to the development of government policy. We are
considering this exemption as the reception baseline assessment remains
under development at this time.

 

As in the letter you received on 28 March, the Act obliges the Department
to respond to requests promptly, but where the exemption listed above is
applicable, the Department must consider the public interest. In these
circumstances the Act allows the time for response to be longer than 20
working days.  

 

Unfortunately, it is taking longer than expected to resolve this case, and
so the Department estimates that it will take an additional 10 working
days to take a decision on where the balance of the public interest lies. 
It is anticipated that you will receive a full response by 29 April 2019. 
If it appears that it will take longer than this to reach a conclusion, we
will keep you informed.

If you have any queries about this letter, please contact me.  Please
remember to quote the reference number above in any future
communications.  

If you are unhappy with the way your request has been handled, you should
make a complaint to the Department by writing to me within two calendar
months of the date of this letter.  Your complaint will be considered by
an independent review panel, which were not involved in the original
consideration of your request.  

 

If you are not content with the outcome of your complaint to the
Department, you may then contact the Information Commissioner’s Office.  

Yours sincerely,

Kathryn Dwyer
Standards & Testing Agency

 

 

 

 
 

ACCOUNT, Unmonitored, Department for Education

1 Atodiad

  • Attachment

    Reception baseline assessment redacted trial reports.zip

    1.1M Download

Dear Ms. Cowley,

 

Thank you for your request for information, which was received on 2^nd
March 2019, and for your patience. Your request was:

 

Please could you provide me with the following:

 

1.      Details of the early years practitioners, teacher panel, and
assessment and inclusion experts involved in the development. If you are
unable to provide names of those involved, please confirm how many people
were involved in each category and whether there was any overlap between
the groups.

2.      The full analysis of the trialling data that you have completed.

 

3.      The practitioner feedback from a questionnaire sent to all schools
involved in the trial, and any summary you have done of the responses to
the questionnaire.

4.      Any analysis you undertook of how long it took the participants in
the trial to perform the assessment. Please include details of averages
and the shortest/longest times.

 

5.      Details of any practitioner feedback that indicated that children
were upset at any time during the trials of the test.

 

The reception baseline assessment was trialled in more than 300 nationally
representative schools in autumn 2018. Trialling is a key part of the
development process and enables us to evaluate the effectiveness of
individual questions, as well as the assessment as a whole. Evidence from
the qualitative and quantitative data from the trial is used to select the
assessment material intended for use in the pilot, and to ensure that this
assessment is high-quality and appropriate for the age of the pupils
taking it.

I will address each of your points in turn.

In terms of the names of panel members, we are applying section 40(2)
(personal data) to this information and will not be releasing this.
 Personal data is that which relates to a living individual who can be
identified from that data, or from that data and other information which
is likely to be in, or to come into, the possession of the requestor. 
Disclosure of this information would contravene a number of the data
protection principles in the General Data Protection Regulations/Data
Protection Act 2018, and would be regarded as ‘unfair’.  By that, we mean
the likely expectations of the data subject that his or her information
would not be disclosed to others and the effect which disclosure would
have on the data subject.  Section 40(2) is an absolute exemption and is
not subject to the public interest test.

I can confirm the numbers for such panels, as below:

Details of practitioners, teachers, and experts involved

 

     -          Informal trialling visits took place, and there were 8
early years practitioners involved

-         A teacher panel was convened and there were 11 early years
practitioners involved

-         There were 6 practitioners involved in User Research panels

-         6 assessment visits and 12 user research visits took part during
the trial

-         313 early years practitioners completed and returned a
questionnaire from the trial

-         36 additional user research visits took place outside of the
trial

-         There was an expert panel of 8 members:

o   2 SEND experts

o   2 self-regulation experts

o   2 assessment development experts

o   2 LA/MAT early years advisors

-          There is a stakeholder group made up of 17 members, a third
from teacher unions, a third are teachers or headteachers and a third are
sector experts.

-          There is overlap between user research visits and school visits
during the trial, as well as some overlap with the user research panel and
the user research visits. There is no overlap anywhere else.

Full analysis of the trialling data, practitioner feedback and timing data

I have enclosed three reports on the trial with a number of redactions to
which we are applying section 35(1). We are withholding the full analysis
of the trialling data, practitioner feedback and timing data under section
35(1) of the Freedom of Information Act (2000), as it is information
relating to the development of government policy. The reception baseline
assessment remains under development and all information relating to the
items is confidential. Therefore, releasing this information puts the
policy at risk.

Section 35 is a qualified exemption and therefore a public interest test
has been carried out. In doing so, the following factors have been taken
into consideration.

o It is acknowledged that there is a general public interest in
disclosure because of the need for there to be an open and transparent
Government, and the sharing of information with the public should be
free and open.
o The release of this information could put the validity of the
reception baseline assessment at risk. There is a large-scale,
national, voluntary pilot due to take place this autumn, and any
release of information from which items could be identified will put
this pilot, and subsequent planned statutory introduction of the
assessment, at risk.
o The release of this information would lead to the loss of value for
public money since a new assessment would need to be developed to
maintain confidentiality. This would mean having to write-off the
costs of the whole development of the assessment so far.
o The release of this information may mislead the general public as the
assessment as it was in the trial and the assessment which is going to
pilot are very different. Feedback and data from the trial were
important in informing changes to the assessment between these stages.

Please note that we have also applied section 40(2) to these reports,
where personal data was included.

However, as we announced in the [1]Assessment Framework and [2]supporting
document, the RBA will no longer include self-regulation. Therefore, this
information is no longer confidential and we can release the attached.
Please be aware that the data released in the attached reports only
applies to the self-regulation component of the trialled assessment and
not the Mathematics or Literacy, Communication and Language (LCL)
components.

In terms of your final question, when an assessment was paused or stopped,
practitioners were asked to provide a reason. On eight occasions, the
reason given included that the child was upset though it is not always
clear what caused the upset. In six of these cases, this related solely to
the assessment of self-regulation. It should be remembered that there was
no routing on the self-regulation tasks and all children saw all tasks.
This would not have been the case had self-regulation been included in the
final assessment. There was one case where upset was noted as a reason for
pausing an assessment in mathematics, and one case for LCL, out of the
3033 pupils involved in the trial.   

In the practitioner feedback, three comments were made about pupils
becoming upset by the assessment. Again, these all related to
self-regulation. It is important to be clear that the RBA will no longer
include any elements on self-regulation. In addition, practitioner
feedback from the trial was considered carefully when deciding the final
items for the assessment that will go to national, voluntary pilot in
September.

The information supplied to you continues to be protected by copyright.
You are free to use it for your own purposes, including for private study
and non-commercial research, and for any other purpose authorised by an
exception in current copyright law. Documents (except photographs) can be
also used in the UK without requiring permission for the purposes of news
reporting. Any other re-use, for example commercial publication, would
require the permission of the copyright holder.

Most documents produced by a government department or agency will be
protected by Crown Copyright. Most Crown copyright information can be
re-used under the Open Government Licence
([3]http://www.nationalarchives.gov.uk/doc/o...). For
information about the OGL and about re-using Crown Copyright information
please see The National Archives website
-[4]http://www.nationalarchives.gov.uk/infor...
.

Copyright in other documents may rest with a third party. For information
about obtaining permission from a third party see the Intellectual
Property Office’s website at [5]www.ipo.gov.uk.

If you have any queries about this letter, please contact me. Please
remember to quote the reference number above in any future communications.

If you are unhappy with the way your request has been handled, you should
make a complaint to the Department by writing to me within two calendar
months of the date of this letter. Your complaint will be considered by an
independent review panel, who were not involved in the original
consideration of your request. 

If you are not content with the outcome of your complaint to the
Department, you may then contact the Information Commissioner’s Office.

With kind regards,

Kathryn Dwyer

Standards & Testing Agency

 

References

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5. http://www.ipo.gov.uk/ blocked::http://www.ipo.gov.uk/
http://www.ipo.gov.uk/

Dear Department for Education,

Attn: Kathryn Dwyer

I am writing to appeal the refusal of some of the requested information and the redactions in the documents given in response to my request on the following grounds:

- There are no reasonable grounds for withholding the names and qualifications of the eight experts who made up the “expert panel” advising on the trial. It is not correct to say “the likely expectations of the data subject [are] that his or her information would not be disclosed to others”. When advising on a national test of such significance, and one for which the development alone is costing £10 million, it would be unreasonable to expect your name and qualifications as an “expert” not to be shared, not least in order to ensure public confidence in the trialing process and in the baseline test itself. In addition, the DfE have made known the names of many expert panels in the past, for instance those experts advising on the new National Curriculum. The refusal to name these experts risks causing serious concern to the public over the reasons behind the lack of transparency and whether the people identified ‘experts’ had sufficient expertise in the field of early years education to advise. In addition, naming the ‘experts’ might serve to ease some of the sector’s concerns and it would therefore be in the public interest to release these names. While working practitioners asked to trial the baseline might have an expectation that their names not be released, the same would not apply to experts advising as part of an expert panel on a matter of such significance as a new statutory national test.

- I am appealing the heavily redacted reports on the trials on various grounds. Firstly, on the basis that the public has a right to know the full details of the testing, since the Government claims to be committed to openness and transparency. The baseline test is due to come into schools in little more than a year’s time and the public, and in particular parents, have the right to be reassured about the content and outcomes of the trials. Given that, on the Department’s own admission, so much has changed between the trials and the pilots, it is not reasonable to withhold the information on the basis that it might prejudice the pilot. In your response to my Freedom of Information request, you yourselves state that “the assessment as it was in the trial and the assessment which is going to pilot are very different”. If this is the case, the trial data should be released on the grounds that it cannot possibly prejudice the pilot or the eventual baseline.

- Given that, as soon as baseline becomes statutory, all schools will have access to the test, concerns about sharing of information affecting the “validity of the baseline” are weak and unevidenced. If the baseline is likely to become invalid once the contents are in the public domain, then the baseline is not going to be a reliable or valid test in the longer term. While the STA and DfE might insist that schools and teachers keep the information about what is in the test confidential, the test is being administered to four year olds, and realistically there can be no such obligation on them. If the claim is that “items could be identified” before the baseline becomes statutory, and before the pilot, then the STA is effectively saying that the baseline itself will become invalid as soon as it is in the public domain.

- In addition, the reports do not appear to give details of what the tasks themselves were, simply a heading and related data. The trial data on the language and maths trials could be shared, even if the names of the tasks themselves were redacted. Keeping this trial data secret leads to public concern over what the trials showed, particularly since the self regulation trials clearly showed that the outcome of the tests was linked to the age in months of the child - a concern that has been repeatedly raised by the early years sector as a likely issue in the reliability of any test within this age group. If the baseline turns out to be just a proxy for age in months, it is likely that the pilot will also fail and the entire project will have to be shelved.

- The “loss of value for public money” test cannot be applied here. The STA/DfE has already done a pilot of a set of baselines, barely three years ago. At the time various early years sector organisations pointed out that the baselines being piloted would not be comparable and that public money was about to be wasted on piloting them. Despite this, the DfE went ahead with the pilot, only to find out once they did so that the tests were not comparable, as the sector had already previously advised. If anyone is wasting public money on repeatedly trialing a baseline, it is the DfE.

- The testing of ‘self regulation’ has been dropped from the baseline, and there can therefore be no grounds for not releasing all the information of this part of the trial, as it would not be possible for it to put the validity of the baseline at risk because the tasks are no longer in the baseline. In addition, there is a public interest in seeing the trial data – the DfE has long been a standard bearer for the value of research in education, and the release of the trial data would allow researchers and academics to research more about self regulation, which is known to be an important area of early childhood education.

- In addition, refusing to release all the data, and heavily redacting the rest, might lead to the public losing confidence in the test as a whole, because of the perception that the DfE and STA are trying to cover up negative results. This is a test that will be done on children who are not yet in compulsory education - parents will be rightly concerned that the DfE is doing an unevidenced test on their children, without giving them access to the full data surrounding the trials. Where public money is spent on research, particularly on children who are below compulsory school age, it is only right that parents are able to give informed consent to their children taking part in the test by that research being shared.

- Finally, I am also appealing the redactions because they have been done in such a way as to not make clear how much information has been withheld. This level of redaction is unprecedented, but it is not clear how much text is actually missing, because it has been removed rather than blanked out. The only way to guess at how much information has been removed is to look at the page numbers at the end of each document, and these suggested that only a tiny amount of information has actually been shared.

Please submit my original FOI, the letters advising of your delayed response, the heavily redacted reports and the details of my appeal as above to the independent appeal process.

Yours faithfully,

Sue Cowley

MINISTERS, Department for Education

1 Atodiad

Thank you for contacting the Department for Education, you will usually
receive a reply within 15 working days.

You can find out how the department processes your personal information by
reading our [1]Privacy Notice.

 

 

References

Visible links
1. https://www.gov.uk/government/organisati...

ACCOUNT, Unmonitored, Department for Education

1 Atodiad

  • Attachment

    Redacted reception baseline assessment reports.zip

    1.1M Download

Dear Ms. Cowley,

 

I am writing to inform you that the department has now completed its
internal appeal process following your complaint of 14^th May 2019.

 

The department has made an independent re-assessment of the case, chaired
by a senior official who was not involved with the original request and
has decided that while some of the information cannot be disclosed for the
reasons as set out in the letter of 29^th April 2019, some information can
be released.

 

Please see below for the names of the 17 members of STA’s Stakeholder
reference group, which we are now releasing. This group was formed to seek
diverse views on the development of the reception baseline assessment, and
it should be noted that support for the RBA is not a criteria for sitting
on this group. It should also be acknowledged that Ofqual’s participation
in this group is as an observer and not as a participant.

 

-        Chris Downey, Southampton University

-        Dave Thomson, Fischer Family Trust

-        James Pembroke, SIG-plus

-        Julie McCulloch, ASCL

-        Suzanne O’Farrell, ASCL

-        Nansi Ellis, National Education Union

-        Sarah Hannafin, NAHT

-        Paul Harris, Headteacher

-        Naomi Nicholson, Ofqual

-        Martin Little, NCETM

-        Tim Oates, Cambridge Assessment

-        Claire Harnden, Headteacher and ITT, South Farnham Educational
Trust

-        Sir Andrew Carter, South Farnham Educational Trust

-        Sara-Jayne Martin, Roxbourne Primary

-        June Turner, Beecraft Primary

-        Sarah Read, Action for Children

 

Please also see attached new copies of the reports previously released to
you. In response to the last point of your appeal letter, we have noted
next to each redaction how much information has been redacted.

 

The information supplied to you continues to be protected by copyright.
You are free to use it for your own purposes, including for private study
and non-commercial research, and for any other purpose authorised by an
exception in current copyright law. Documents (except photographs) can be
also used in the UK without requiring permission for the purposes of news
reporting. Any other re-use, for example commercial publication, would
require the permission of the copyright holder.

 

Most documents produced by a government department or agency will be
protected by Crown Copyright. Most Crown copyright information can be
re-used under the Open Government Licence
([1]http://www.nationalarchives.gov.uk/doc/o...). For
information about the OGL and about re-using Crown Copyright information
please see The National Archives website
-[2]http://www.nationalarchives.gov.uk/infor...
.

 

Copyright in other documents may rest with a third party. For information
about obtaining permission from a third party see the Intellectual
Property Office’s website at [3]www.ipo.gov.uk.

 

If you are unhappy with the decision to withhold part of the information
sought, you have the right to appeal directly to the Information
Commissioner. The Information Commissioner can be contacted at:

 

           Information Commissioner’s Office

           Wycliffe House

           Water Lane

           Wilmslow

           Cheshire

           SK9 5AF

 

If the Commissioner comes to the conclusion that that the information
should be released, he will issue a decision notice which will set out the
steps which the department must take and the date by which they must be
taken.

 

If you have any queries about this letter, please contact me. Please
remember to quote our reference number in any future communications.

 

With kind regards,

 

Kathryn Dwyer

Standards & Testing Agency

 

 

 

References

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http://www.ipo.gov.uk/

Dear Department for Education,

Attn: Kathryn Dwyer

Thank you for your reply outlining the result of my appeal.

I am going to take my appeal to the ICO, but in the meantime are you able to advise why you were able to release the names of the stakeholder group but not the expert panel since the original refusal was made under the same reasoning (data protection)? If you look at the detail in my letter, I had appealed the withholding of the names of the expert group specifically, rather than the stakeholder group.

Yours faithfully,

Sue Cowley

MINISTERS, Department for Education

1 Atodiad

Thank you for contacting the Department for Education, you will usually
receive a reply within 15 working days.

You can find out how the department processes your personal information by
reading our [1]Privacy Notice.

 

 

References

Visible links
1. https://www.gov.uk/government/organisati...

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