Teachers are preparing to take industrial action in protest at “immoral” exams for four-year-olds.Members of the National Union of Teachers (NUT) have called for a major campaign against the “damaging” literacy and numeracy checks for children at the start of reception.The union, which has a long standing opposition to primary school tests, seeks to disrupt voluntary pilots of the tests next year, including the possibility of industrial action.”Baseline” checks for reception-age children in England were announced by former education secretary Justine Greening last year as part of an overhaul of primary school testing which included a decision to scrap national curriculum tests – known as Sats – for seven-year-olds.During a debate at the NUT conference in Brighton, teachers raised concerns about the assessments, arguing that it would mean young children told they are “not good enough” within weeks of starting school. “Learning through play, establishing routines. They will become data, that is what baseline testing is all about.”What we should be most angry about though is the damage these tests will do to children. I don’t need to explain it, you can imagine. Imagine being told at four that you are not good enough.”She added: “I talked about the future, but sometimes I feel it’s like Victorian times. We are teaching kids that are coming to school with empty stomachs.”We might not be beating them with sticks or canes or rulers, but we are beating them with high-stakes tests and a curriculum that is only about preparing them for high-stakes tests.”We are forcing them to slave away in exam factories, and we are making them wear metaphorical dunces’ hats.” Teachers are preparing to take industrial action in protest at “immoral” exams for four-year-olds Credit: SUZANNE PLUNKETT The NUT passed a resolution to call for “a major campaign aimed at encouraging schools not to take part in the pilot of baseline assessment in September 2019, using industrial action if necessary”.Alex Kenny, of the union’s executive, urged members to consider the action they can take to prevent the checks taking place next year, with the union planning to produce information packs as well as model letters for parents, governors and teachers to say they do not want their school to take part. “I feel it’s like Victorian times”, a teacher told the conference Proposing the motion, Katharine Lindenberg, a delegate from Waltham Forest, London, said: “Baseline tests will be given to four-year-olds in the first weeks of reception.”They are unnecessary, they are pointless, they are expensive and above all they are damaging, and they are immoral.”Four-year-olds, in the vital settling in period, will be sat in front of a screen answering literacy and maths questions. This is a time when children should be building their confidence, gaining trust with their teachers and support staff. “Baseline is voluntary, so through the strategy outlined here, we want to pile pressure on heads and governors to say that they won’t take part, they won’t volunteer to take part in baseline in 2019,” he said.”But if that pressure doesn’t work, we will combine it with ballots. We will conduct indicative ballots so that we can identify the schools and areas where we can use industrial action if heads say they will go ahead with the pilot.”Ministers have said the baseline check, which is due to be introduced nationally in 2020 following next year’s voluntary pilots, will be used as a marker of children’s abilities at the start of their schooling, and this information will be used to track and measure youngsters’ progress up until they leave primary school.A Department for Education spokeswoman said: “Tests and teacher assessments at primary school form a fundamental part of a child’s education, but they are not intended to hinder their development or cause undue stress. We trust teachers to administer tests in a way that does not put undue pressure on pupils.”The baseline assessment is not an accountability measure and won’t be published. It is purely to assess children’s starting point so that we can see how well schools help children to make progress during their time at primary school.” Want the best of The Telegraph direct to your email and WhatsApp? Sign up to our free twice-daily Front Page newsletter and new audio briefings.