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Nursery Baseline


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I teach in a Nursery class in a large primary school. Our SIPS officer has stated that we must have a formal Nursery baseline in order to show value-added by the end of Reception and KS1.

 

We have always used the stepping stones as an informal baseline, but she is asking us to give children scores so that we have specific statistics and graphs can be made.

 

Currently we try to assess the children within their first 4 weeks of starting Nursery. Looking at our records of children who started this term, there are lots of stepping stones that have not been marked off, not necessarily because the children have not achieved them, but becuase it has not been observed within that short period of time.

 

Obviously our assessments are done through observation of children in child-initiated play and also staff's professional judgement. But what are the chances of "seeing" them achieve specific stepping stones, when there are so many to do and so many children to observe (60). In such a short space of time as well.

 

For example, how do we assess a 3 year old's knowledge of numbers and counting through their own play? Many children when they first start at 3 are unsettled in the first 4 weeks and may not be ready to join in a game involving numbers or simply are not interested. Some are not ready to join in with group times with countng rhymes. If we haven't observed them(and therefore assessed their knowledge) we cannot mark off the relevant stepping stone, but it does not mean that they haven't achieved it, just that it hasn't been observed. We definitely do not want to pull them out and "test" them.

 

And this is just one of the dozens of areas to assess. At the same time, staff are trying to settle these children, ensuring they're feeling happy and safe, confident, independent. We're dealing with tears, tantrums, toilet accidents. we're trying to create and resource a stimulating environment and enjoyable, relevant activities. These things are what are important in their first few weeks.

 

Surely therefore, a baseline in such a short time is not a clear picture of what the child arrives in Nursery with and is totally unworkable. The "statistics" will not be accurate and so what's the point?

 

We have decided that we will just focus on CLL, PSRN, and PSED. Can anyone help me out with how I can introduce this formal baseline?

 

I wonder what other school-based Nurseries do?

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Hi Jackie

We are having a similar difficulty at our nursery. We did try out a basic baseline when the children entered(3 years ago) concentrating on the same 3 areas. what a waste of time it was as we were basically redoing the same information in 2 different forms. that was scrapped. Now our head wants % and graphs to show the children's progression. I did inform him that by looking at the children'sobservation records he would see the progress, but no he wants to see it on one piece of paper just like the profile graphs. I have spent hours trawling thorugh the FF and searches to see if their is a system of tracking for the nursery but all I seem to find is basically another form of observation sheets whcih will mean repeating the information again. If anybody has any ideas I would be interested too, especially if it shows % and graphs!

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I'm going to stick my neck out here and say that this really saddens me. Your instincts tell you what the children's needs and even foci are at this stage. It's a pity that some heads, as well qualified as they undoubtedly are, seem to forget the basics of child development, Maslow's hierarchy of needs etc. In any case I doubt whether such an assessment would give any reliable information, given the wide range of their devlopment at this stage of their lives. And the fault is really with the government for pressurising, isn't it?

 

Sorry, rant over! I'll stick to preschool!

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Very interested in this topic as well, "the powers that be" seem to like figures. I devised a simple assessment when they first started e.g can they rote count to 10, recognise any numbers, shapes, use a scissors, colours, write their name, etc...... i found this useful for me because it give me some idea of a rough starting point.

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think you'll find this useful - ofsted's approach to on entry assessment clarified v clearly.

 

http://www.ofsted.gov.uk/publications/070120

 

 

Cx

Thanks for this link, Catma. I have found this publication very interesting and am sure it will be of help in convincing the private provider in our Children's Centre to think about baseline assessment in a more practical and staff friendly way.

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