A good baseline assessment should be quick to carry out, and enjoyable and engaging for children. It will provide objective and reliable information on an individual child’s stage of development in some crucial areas. Combined with other evidence, this can help teachers plan learning activities tailored to support each child’s progression.

Why do we need baseline assessment?

Research tells us that a baseline assessment is a crucial component in understanding a child’s level of development. A reception baseline assessment can help to:

  • Identify the developmental stage of each child on starting school
  • Inform tailored learning plans for each child
  • Provide a starting point to track the progress of children through the primary phase of school, ensuring they are making good learning progression

What exactly happens in CEM’s baseline assessment?

  • Children sit one-to-one with a teacher or teaching assistant at a computer. The children respond to questions presented to them and the adult records the responses.
  • The assessment comprises a series of colourful and engaging pictures and stories, and the child is asked questions about each scene. The questions are designed to gauge early mathematical and language development. A child’s Personal, Social and Emotional Development is also assessed using a teacher rating scale.
  • The assessment is computer-adaptive – the questions the children see depend on their responses to previous questions. This means the child will not see questions deemed too difficult or too easy for their developmental stage.
  • With BASE, children will be guided through the assessment by a fun and friendly character, Milly the Bug.

Watch a baseline assessment in action

Why would schools choose CEM as their baseline assessment provider?

  • Fun and enjoyable – the assessment takes just 15-20 minutes, and Milly the Bug guides each child through the questions. Trials show that children respond positively to the assessment overall, and can’t stop talking about Milly the Bug!
  • Supporting teachers and schools – we provide training for teachers to help them carry out the assessment, and offer guidance on interpreting the feedback to ensure they are able to use the information to inform learning and development.
  • Proven track record – PIPS Baseline, our current reception baseline assessment, has been available for over 20 years. In that time, an estimated 3.6 million assessments have been carried out.
  • Experience – CEM, part of Durham University, has over 30 years’ experience in developing assessments based on rigorous research. As a not-for-profit research organisation, we reinvest in education and are constantly improving approaches to assessment.


Get in touch for a chat and a short demonstration of our assessments.

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