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Eyfs- Just Been On Training For Obs, Assessment And Planning


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Yesterday I went to training on obs, assessment and planning in the EYFS and the keynote speaker was Nancy Stewart- the regional advisor for the west midlands. She is a link from government to the LEA.

These are the main points;

*Observations should be purposeful. If there's no purpose in them don't waste time doing them.

*Observations should be manageable- you don't have to do "shed loads" (her own words)

*You must not do tick lists. Knowing what colours the children know and whether they can count to 10 is not what it's all about.

*There is no requirement to mark off the "development matters" and/or "look, listen and note" section of the guidance book.- The guidance book is not mandatory. Nowhere does it say you should be doing this.

* Involve the children in their assessments. i.e show them a photograph of themself doing an activity and talk about it, ask them questions and write down their thoughts. Aslo write down what they said at the time the photo was taken.

*The EYFS profile is only mandatory for the end of reception year.

*Planning should be based on your assessment of observations; i.e decide what you want to do with the children from what you have observed. It doesn't always mean the next step- you can consolidate a new skill before moving on too quickly.

* You don't have to plan using "quotes" from the guidance book as your learning intention. The wording is there to show you examples of the stages children go through. Every child does not have to achieve everything written in the "development matters".

*Do what is best for you, your setting and the children.The ideas for planning on the CD rom are a suggestion. You can use them if you like but you don't have to.

I hope this helps with some questions you may have about this topic.

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Thank you for that.. I am going to one end of month..

have continually spent ages with staff saying do not highlight development matters statements.. or to definitely not tick them off.. but seem to be constantly hitting a brick wall.. will keep on at them though as they are only making more work which is not needed...

 

Inge

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Thank you for sharing this. It is definitely helpful for one of my staff members. If only our area had some training as helpful as this.

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Thank You - That's really helpful.

 

We do celebration books with photos, observations, pictures/work etc. and we link everything that we put in to one of the 6 areas of development matters.

 

From your course, do you think that this is enough and that we do not need to do a tracking sheet through the statements as well.

 

I'd really appreciate other peoples comments on this too.

 

I just feel that the celebration book is worth doing, it's lovely for parents and meaningful where as a tracking sheet where we highlight or tick off development matters statement isnit.

 

What does everybody think????

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i had a visit from my advisory teacher last week who informed me that ofsted want to see an overview of a childs development and learning and that we should include a ticklist in each learning story, i actually asked her if she was taking the **** and she said no thats what they had been told and were advising everyone to include, i told her i didn't want to because i really hate ticklists, she left and i spent the better part of a day using something i'd found on here and fitting it onto 6 sheets of paper so we can highlight when a child has achieved, photocopied one for every child and changed (yet again) what my staff are doing (just incase she's right after all she should know right?)

 

i am so pleased that for once we are all being given the same information and just for a change a new system is being implemented and all practitioners have been well trained beforehand,

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*There is no requirement to mark off the "development matters" and/or "look, listen and note" section of the guidance book.- The guidance book is not mandatory. Nowhere does it say you should be doing this.

This is really interesting: my advisory teacher told me that we definitely should highlight the development matters statements as and when we feel confident that the children have met them. We have observation trackers on which we log all our observations to show which stepping stones they evidence - and she felt that highlighting those which children have met would provide a comprehensive picture of where the children are at any given time!

 

Hmm. More food for thought!

 

Maz

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I think it's around the need to track progress -which we should be doing and definitely in schools Ofsted want to see just that, particularly on-entry data and the manner in which we record it. There is guidance from strategies somewhere, I forget exactly where (could be in all the aborted progress from the start stuff), but it says tracking docs should be based on the look listen and note/development matters statements so what do we do - what is human! try to make a set of parameters to demonstrate progress. It's very chicken and egg I think.

 

It's heartening to see that an RA is affirming all I have been saying around my LA re EYFS and that gives me confidence to go on saying it - it's disheartening when we as a profession feel we have to wait until a person with "authority" comes along before we will go ahead rather than using our own professional judgement and training. When I encourage practitioners to write their learning outcomes in words that are not on the document but that give a more precise link to the small step they want children to develop they nearly always ask "can I do that?". It's like they haven't even opened the documents but wait until someone comes along to tell them what to do. The terms statutory and guidance give a very big hint as to the standing of each part of the framework!!!

 

I have to say though that Ofsted are checking EYFS statutory guidance fully in the recent schools inspections, wanting names of the paediatric first aiders and the like - so be warned!

Cx

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Hi Just wanted to add to what catma said.

 

My experience in my Ofsted last week was that they were very careful about the statutory part of the EYFS with no credit being given if you were working towards something. I was told all the 'musts' were expected to be in place from September 1st. They also gave the impression that for a 'good' outcome they would expect most, if not all, of the 'should have regards to' to be in place too.

 

I was also told that we should definitely not use development matters as a checklist. We have a once a term 'assessment' sheet which covers each of the six areas of learning and I was told this was fine.

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Guest Wolfie
We have a once a term 'assessment' sheet which covers each of the six areas of learning and I was told this was fine.

 

 

Masha, can I ask what is on your assessment sheets?

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Thanks dfordi, its interesting to read everyones replies as to what we are supposed to be doing, I wish there was one person in our LEA that could tell us what we need to do as no one seems to be able to tell me the same information. I'm meeting with our new early years advisor this week so maybe she will have some answers (wishful thinking!)

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in each of the childrens folders 45 in all i have photocopied the development matters sheets for their age group. i cannot decide wether to hightlight the areas they have been observed in or not. 1. I am thinking time 2. i am thinking is it a waste of time if it is not needed.

 

last July when we filled out the transfer records we did struggle to get evidence of where the children were at.

 

I dont know time is valuable and i am a great believer in only doing what is needed.

 

angela

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I dont really think there's a 'right' way when it comes to using or not using the development matters, and obviously there is different advice being given around the country. Its therefore difficult to say 'you must do it this way because I said so' because that takes away your autonomy as practitioners, and your ownership of your practice.

 

My personal view is that the question isnt whether or not we use development matters but in HOW we use them (or whatever we use instead). I think they are a useful guide to see where chidren are developing and broadly how they are progressing. It can provide that tracking information that schools espeically are expected to show. But they are not stand alone statements that chidlren work through one after the other and this is the concern that advisers may have about the way they are used. (I saw it several times with the stepping stones).

 

Dfordi, Id love to know that if your RA said you dont HAVE to use the development matters, did she actually say that you mustn't use them? Do you see where I coming from here? As catma said, the clue is in the title...'guidance' and for many practitioners is a really important 'guide'. I dont have a problem with them being used, but when I go out to settings I do like to know how they are being used and if something is being used instead, I like to know how they are being used too.

 

I hope that makes some sort of sense.

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I think Nancy should get a 'common sense' award, how good to hear observations and assessment should be done for a purpose. :o

Unfortunately practitioners have to meet two agenda's;

 

1/ knowing, celebrating and recording the childrens ongoing development.

 

2/ Proving to Ofsted how we know what we know, and the added pressure of feeling that Ofsted require us to know at any given time (unnanounced inspection) the exact dvelopmental level of every child.

 

I think the operative word here is 'ongoing' develoment. How can we know where every child is at, when progress occurs 'adhoc' in different areas all at the same time.

 

I remember during one of my inspections I was asked about a childs level of development within maths. I told her what I knew, but because it wasn't recorded/evidenced yet, to the level I had explained we were marked down. My argument was just because it wasn't written/evidenced didn't mean it wasn't true, and that it is impossible to simultaneously have all the childrens record books 'up to date' especially as children are 'showing' progress on a daily basis.

 

As Catma says, I wish Ofsted would accept our professional judgment. To expect all records to be up to date at any given timeis unachievable, and therefore I think creates a pressure to over record, what we know in our heads, because we do know our children. WE also know what we don't know about an individual child and this is one 'purpose' of observation.

 

I used to encourage my staff to 'say' / 'discuss' with each other details of their key childrens levels, areas to consolidate, skills to practice, knowledge which needed confirming in various contexts, areas of concern. I personally think that if you minute these meetings they are much more informative than a a 'tracking sheet' for each child, to evidence to Ofsted that you are knowledgable about each child, and to also give staff lots of practice in 'verbalising' what they know about each child.

This to me makes assessment a 'real experience' and to stop the staff being to reliant on written information.

 

If a member of staff needs to look on a tracker sheet to know where any of her key children are at, then can they really know their child well enough to say 'scaffold' their childs learning within the context of a spontaneous activity, or to help a child to practice a skill, or learn a new skill whilst the child is engaged in an activity of his choosing?

Development occurs on a continuum, therefore assessment can never be complete, thus making written records just a broad idea. So why Ofsted are so focused on these records, I don't know.

 

So I would say encourage staff to 'voice' what they know about the children, this, I think will empower their confidence in what they know, and also encourage the children themselves to 'voice' what they can do / know. Let Ofsted inspectors 'hear' your knowledge and ask them to judge you by that, alongside written records. Yes, record the childrens learning journeys as a celebration, and inevitably a record of progress. Don't try to do the impossible and record absolutely everything about every child, this is where the pressure lies, I think. To try to meet this pressure will distract from being with and 'learning alongside the child'.

 

Keep in mind the real PRIORITY purpose of observation and assessment, which is, as we know, for the childs' benefit.

It should not be for staff to become dependent on as a reference point or to solely evidence your knowledge to Ofsted.

 

I totally agree with Catma's statement;

it's disheartening when we as a profession feel we have to wait until a person with "authority" comes along before we will go ahead rather than using our own professional judgement and training

 

Let's also look at the EYFS as an opportunity to hope that Ofsted will change their previous focus on 'development records' as evidence for what we know and plan and do with our children. Let's hope they will embrace the diverse ways in which different settings inform themselves, parents and Ofsted of 'where a child is moving toward' rather than 'where a child is at'.

 

The requirement being, each child 'will work towards the ELG's'

 

Peggy

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i had a visit from my advisory teacher last week who informed me that ofsted want to see an overview of a childs development and learning and that we should include a ticklist in each learning story, i actually asked her if she was taking the **** and she said no thats what they had been told and were advising everyone to include, i told her i didn't want to because i really hate ticklists, she left and i spent the better part of a day using something i'd found on here and fitting it onto 6 sheets of paper so we can highlight when a child has achieved, photocopied one for every child and changed (yet again) what my staff are doing (just incase she's right after all she should know right?)

 

i am so pleased that for once we are all being given the same information and just for a change a new system is being implemented and all practitioners have been well trained beforehand,

 

We had our Ofsted inspection in September - 3 days after the start of the new school year!! Our inspectors were interested in seeing the planning and the end of year profiles scores for the (last) cohort - they both spent time in the classroom observing the children - at no time did either of them ask to see an overview of a child's development - they didn't ask to see any individual documentation or observation notes that my staff and I had made - they seemed more than happy with what we were doing and gave us a Grade 2. I do use check lists to ensure that each child has an opportunity to engage in certain activities - cooking etc.. these are excellent at times when all children need to have produced a something - like a Christmas card. with 30 children I would hate it if one child didn't have a card to take home. I use observations along side the tick lists to note anything of interest that happens i.e. can a child use a sharpe knife, cut out , hold a conversation , willing to share ideas with others ec. But my feeling about using tick lists as an assessment is that they tell you very little about the child only what s/he cannot do!!! but for numbers and letters I use them to inform me about where gaps are in children's knowledge so that I can devise ways of filling that gap in an exciting and holistic way - I sometimes think that the advisors are so removed from what is actuually happenng in our schools that they will say anything to fill a gap in the conversation. I personally have not had a visit in the last year although I am new on the block - does that say something about my effectiveness or theirs! all I can say is don't panic use your own judgement and get to know how each individaul child 'ticks' and provide opportunities that will engage them in the learning experience in that way you are treating them as unique and providing a safe, enabling and secure base for thier continued wel-being.

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Wow, some really great points in this discussion

 

I totally agree with Peggy's point that it isn't possible to have every child's records up to date at all times, and that we can't scaffold a child effectively if we have to check a tracking document to see where they are.

 

Our change to a termly assessment of a child's learning away from highlighting stepping stones, which is what we did before is based on the argument that we are professionals and can use our professional judgement as to where a child is on their developmental journey. We shouldn't need to produce dated, cross referenced evidence in triplicate to support every judgement.

 

Wolfie, our assessment sheets are two sides of A4 with 8 boxes. 6 boxes for the areas of learning with 'this term I have...' and 'next term I will be working towards...'. The other two boxes have Key Person comment, parental comment and child's input. They will be completed with reference to Development Matters, but not necessarily using the exact wording, and the child's learning journeys will provide the 'evidence'

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Wow, some really great points in this discussion

 

I totally agree with Peggy's point that it isn't possible to have every child's records up to date at all times, and that we can't scaffold a child effectively if we have to check a tracking document to see where they are.

 

Our change to a termly assessment of a child's learning away from highlighting stepping stones, which is what we did before is based on the argument that we are professionals and can use our professional judgement as to where a child is on their developmental journey. We shouldn't need to produce dated, cross referenced evidence in triplicate to support every judgement.

 

Wolfie, our assessment sheets are two sides of A4 with 8 boxes. 6 boxes for the areas of learning with 'this term I have...' and 'next term I will be working towards...'. The other two boxes have Key Person comment, parental comment and child's input. They will be completed with reference to Development Matters, but not necessarily using the exact wording, and the child's learning journeys will provide the 'evidence'

 

Masha - Any chance we could see your assessmnet sheet??? Big, big PLEASE - it would be a great help!

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What we are really considering is the difference between formative and summative assessments. I do think there is a need for points in time when we take stock and match a child's progress against the expectations of the elgs and the steps towards them, otherwise a child could be floundering around making no progress and that would be wrong. We have a duty to ensure children are enabled to progress and the national expectations give us that bench mark - regardless of what we think of them children do achieve them! This is the kind of data that informs the practitioner and parent as to the child over time, the setting as to it's effectiveness and areas for development and Ofsted as to the EYFS.

 

The formative assessments which guide our daily work is equally important but this is where the knowledge of the child and their current needs and interests is paramount as we guide them along through various points along the way which we feel will open them up to new knowledge or understandings as they happen. Poor subject knowledge is the root of most poor practice in my experience. If we don't know what the areas of development look like how on earth can we support children to see them either!

 

On ticklists I think some people need them and some don't. An NQT for example may well need check lists to help them see the wood for the trees as they develop thier skills and understanding, more experienced practitioners can be more fluid with their use of records like this. The NAA are clear that you only need to record what you need to help you recall evidence, not collate everything into a massive unwieldy document. Someone said to me recently that the value of assessments is not measured by their weight but by the use that they are put to. Wise words I felt!

Cx

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Daisydoo: somehow managed to delete the assessment sheet from my computer and now am just photocopying it :oxD but I will have to retype it soon and will try and post it then (never done that before!)

 

Catma, I agree, less confident/experienced practitioners do need to use more methods of recording, and I think we will all be quite dependent on the development matters in the practice guidance until they become familiar. I remember thinking i would never remember all those stepping stones when the FS came out, but of course you do begin to learn them by heart the more you use them.

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At my setting each child has an overview sheet with space to write the observation number. But we haven't really been doing this as much as some may think we need to. Currently we tend to focus on the incidental obs on post its and photos of what the children are doing. During the holidays when we have less children I will just transfer it over to the overview sheet - so every six weeks or so. This is more for me to make sure I am covering everything. I tend to just follow the children and have fun.

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Hi Wolfie, My setting is in Birmingham.

 

I thought this topic might get people talking...

 

Peggy you have some wise words as usual. You seem to explain things so well.

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Very interesting to see how things differ from area to area.

 

We had a meeting a good few weeks ago now run by our advisory teacher and were told to use the sheets attached (highlight during initial assessment and then at certain times throughout the year)

 

We did ask why? When we have been told for years now, not to do that!!!!!!! :oxD

 

This was the whole purpose of the meeting, to get settings to use the document.

Edited by bugbabe
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Hi there,

 

I am new to the forum but have been intrigued by some of the discussions that are taking place and they make me feel better about my ethos and philosophy!

 

Can I ask how you heard about this training and is Nancy Stewart due to do any further training? I am currently doing battle everyday about the development matters with some colleagues and could do with some clarity.

 

thanks

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Very interesting to see how things differ from area to area.

 

We had a meeting a good few weeks ago now run by our advisory teacher and were told to use the ticksheets attached (highlight statement when achieved)

 

We did ask why? When we have been told for years now, not to do that!!!!!!! :oxD

 

This was the whole purpose of the meeting, to get settings to use the document.

 

Hi and welcome to the forum bugbabe. Unfortunately I have had to remove the attachment from your post as it was a document developed by Northamptonshire County Council and we would need to have their permission for it to be uploaded onto the forum. Please don't let this put you off joining in the discussions or sharing with us in the future! :(

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We have copied out each of the elements of the development matters for the ages of the children in our group and each child has one of these. (I did copy and paste from the disk - I didn't waste time typing them all) We have a box next to each 'criteria' and we note down something anecdotal from observations, eg. 'Luke picked up the pen by the whiteboard and drew some circles, he came and told me "that's my name", he was so delighted that he had written his name like the older children do' and then we date it. We might photograph him doing this and put that in too (on the computer). This would go next to the CLL Writing outcome for his age bracket 'examine the marks they and others use' or 'sometimes give meaning to marks as they draw and paint' etc. Then when the children leave we take out any 'criteria' that we haven't any comments for - they may have joined us well above the lower 'criteria' and we have no specific observations for them, or be leaving well before the later 'criteria' can be gained. The resulting document full of pictures and anecdotal observations is a fantastic record to give parents and was highly praised by Ofsted. It saved me the bother of writing reports last summer too! Parents loved it.

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Hi bumbles.

All settings in birmingham receive a training directory through the post and we apply for whichever courses we want. Nancy was the keynote speaker for that day> I don't know if she talks at all the different dates/venues. (But it was reassuring to hear from someone so "high up".)

We have a follow up session on 7th November where all settings have been asked to take along their learning journey books. Should be interesting to share these with others...

 

Another trainer said how sad she was to see her grand daughter's nursery report had been "cut and pasted" because it didn't reflect her personality at all.

 

They talked about children being naturally curious and 80 percent of their time should be child-led learning and only 20 per cent "taught" by staff.

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I dont really think there's a 'right' way when it comes to using or not using the development matters, and obviously there is different advice being given around the country. Its therefore difficult to say 'you must do it this way because I said so' because that takes away your autonomy as practitioners, and your ownership of your practice.

 

My personal view is that the question isnt whether or not we use development matters but in HOW we use them (or whatever we use instead). I think they are a useful guide to see where chidren are developing and broadly how they are progressing. It can provide that tracking information that schools espeically are expected to show. But they are not stand alone statements that chidlren work through one after the other and this is the concern that advisers may have about the way they are used. (I saw it several times with the stepping stones).

 

Dfordi, Id love to know that if your RA said you dont HAVE to use the development matters, did she actually say that you mustn't use them? Do you see where I coming from here? As catma said, the clue is in the title...'guidance' and for many practitioners is a really important 'guide'. I dont have a problem with them being used, but when I go out to settings I do like to know how they are being used and if something is being used instead, I like to know how they are being used too.

 

I hope that makes some sort of sense.

Hi Mundia. We were told that the "development matters should not be used as a tick list in the same way that the stepping stones should not have been used as a tick list previously."

The only requirement is the Profile at the end of the EYFS.

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