Early years education experts and teachers have this week called for plans for new tests for four year olds – yes, four year olds – to be scrapped.

Good for them. This, it seems to me, is simple common sense and a much needed reaction to the excessive culture of testing which seems to be choking the spark out of our schoolchildren and, indeed, schools.

The Government says the plan is to monitor the development of children between ages four and 11, with early tests giving an idea of baseline ability.

But – and it is a big but as far as I can see – they are only four, for heaven’s sake.

Don’t get me wrong – of course teachers need to have some idea of the abilities and aptitudes of Reception age children. But wouldn’t that be far better served by them actually, you know, getting to know them and working with them in a more organic way?

That way children can be challenged, supported and encouraged in the way that best suits the pupil in question. Going to school and realising you have to actually learn stuff is quite a tall order for the average four or five year old.

Their stamina at that age is a work in progress and their ability to get through the day without meltdown is partly down to blind luck, especially at the start of their school life. At such a young age, surely how well they do in a test is incredibly dependent on whether they have a cold coming, or whether their younger brother or sister has kept them up all night, or whether they can stop thinking about how much they want to go outside to play on the slide and run about like an e-number addled lunatic.

Learning is, and should be, a steady process that can identify and encourage the enthusiasms of our schoolchildren. That is the fun part of it anyway, The steady conveyor belt of testing they have to endure throughout primary school seems soul-crushing enough anyway. With schools placed in league tables and judged on their outcomes, there is an understandable imperative on teachers to want their pupils to do well in their SATS, or whatever else they are being tested on. When that happens, the tail inevitably starts wagging the dog and you start getting children being coached through tests, rather than the tests actually monitoring a fuller kind of education.

Of course there is value to testing, and ensuring all pupils leave school with a certain level of ability is important. But there is a balance to be struck and it seems to me that monitoring four year olds in that way tips the scales the wrong way.

Sir Terry Pratchett was famously no fan of school. I wonder how he would have fared if this stringent system of testing was in place back then. There is, of course, no way of knowing but I wonder if it would have done much for the creativity that saw him capture the imagination of countless readers.

Not all children have the potential to be a bestselling author, of course – but they all have potential to be something special. I’m not sure converting abilities of a four-year-old into statistical data to be endlessly compared and analysed is the best way of doing that.