A major teaching union says it will scupper the government’s plans for introducing a national test for four-year-olds when they arrive at school.

The union is now urging the schools that are taking part in a pilot programme to boycott the baseline tests that will begin in September 2019.

The National Education Union says the proposed testing of young children is ‘immoral’.

The promise to undermine the tests was made at the union’s annual conference in Brighton with the test in English and maths being introduced as part of scrapping SATs, or national curriculum tests, for seven-year-olds.

The government says that the tests on pupils starting school are necessary to ensure the value each school is adding is measured by the time those pupils leave school when they are 11. SATs for 11-year-olds will remain.

Baseline tests will enable reception teachers to record development

The government also says the baseline tests will enable reception teachers to record the development stage their pupils are at and gear their teaching to each child.

However, the teachers argue that reception children could be tested informally and there’s no need for the imposition of a national test for those at such a young age.

At their conference, delegates voted to oppose the tests and will urge schools to scupper the pilot schemes. The conference also heard that there is the possibility of industrial action being carried out to ensure the tests are not carried out.

Among the reasons given during the conference, delegates raised fears over the effect that the test would bring for youngsters if they were then told they ‘are not good enough’ just weeks after beginning their school career.

One teacher from London told the conference: “These tests are pointless and unnecessary, they are expensive and damaging and immoral.”

Consider what type of industrial action they were prepared to take

The delegates were also asked by the union’s leadership to consider what type of industrial action they were prepared to take in a bid to prevent the new tests from being piloted.

Teaching unions have had a long-standing opposition to testing in primary schools and the union says it will now begin a campaign that will be aimed at schools to encourage them not to take part in the baseline assessment testing.

One of the union’s executives, Alex Kenney, told delegates: “The baseline testing is voluntary and we want to pile pressure on governors and heads for them to say they will not take part and they will not volunteer in taking part in baseline testing next year.

“But if the pressure does not work, we will have to combine it with ballots so we can identify the areas and schools where industrial action can be used if the head says they will go ahead with the pilot.”