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Making This An Exciting Place To Be For Everyone


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I visit a wide range of day nurseries, preschools and schools and am concerned that people are trying so hard to get their paperwork right at the expense of the environment. I don't often see exciting, creative, "mad" things going on. I am tempted to trial a paperwork free week in a setting and just get people to observe and plan from what they see - but am not sure if I am brave enough to suggest it. Any thoughts or ideas out there?

I have also suggested to one place that they do everything outside for a week and the inside becomes the "optional" place that children (and staff) can free-flow into if they choose!

I am trying to turn everything upside down and break people out of boxes. What do you think?

I want to be able to walk into a setting and be blown away with the interesting and exciting things/converstaions going on.

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I'm with you there, but then I would be...........

 

At my last Ofsted - pre EYFS - the inspector said............"well you just don't fit into a box"

 

My reply "I'll take that as a compliment"!!!

 

That took the wind out of her sails!!!

 

Sunnyday

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I am trying to turn everything upside down and break people out of boxes. What do you think?

I think you need to be careful here: speaking purely as a practitioner who would love to do more stuff like this, I would suggest you go for it, but start with settings whose practice is strong enough to withstand the challenge. It takes confidence to ditch topics and let go of some of the paperwork systems which can act as a kind of 'security blanket' for some settings. Suddenly whipping away the 'old ways' might destabilise settings who are finding the EYFS challenging enough already.

 

I think you need to find a few 'open doors' to push on before you can break everyone out of their boxes. Can you identify a few good quality settings (perhaps in different types of settings such as packaway, full daycare and perhaps a maintained nursery) who you can work with to set the project up with a few simple aims and objectives? Support them during the decision making process: what will they do and how will they do it and what resources or additional support will they need? This will help them maintain control over what is going to happen and give them ownership of the project, within the context of the benefits and limitations placed upon their practice by their environment.

 

With careful documentation this could turn into a focus for provocation within the wider early years community in your LA - and the setting leaders and practitioners can become skilled advocates of this new approach to delivering the EYFS. Then they can help to spread the word that 'thinking out of the box' can become a way of life and can bring about unexpected outcomes for children's learning and thus provide evidence of their learning, taking the place of some of the paperwork you're keen to get away from.

 

It sounds a fantastic venture to me - I wonder how each of us could incorporate a little bit of madness into our daily life in pre-school? What can our 'WOW' moment of the day be?

 

What an inspiration!

 

Maz

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I have often thought about having a paperwork free week! Or may be just jotting ideas down on a piece of paper which doesn't have tables and boxes to be 'filled-in!'. I think it would really help us to put our energy into responding to the children in more interesting and creative ways as well as highlighting what actually needs to be included in planning and other paperwork!

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I wont ever let paper work come before the children and the environment we provide for them. If i have to do the paper work in my own time then fine its more important that the children have a memorable time. Going with the children is what it should all be about.

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Hey happymaz thankyou for your wise words. A number ofsettings I work with have already moved away from the topic approach, but I still feel they are missing the opportunity to go wild! They dread my visits sometimes (in a nice way) because I just go with the flow of the children and see where it leads me, hoping that they will get the general idea!(By the way I work as an Early Years Consultant and a Childrens Centre Teacher, in case anyone wondered).

At our team day we discussed a recent OFSTED inspection where the setting were told that the paperwork would only be looked at in detail if the practice was requiring some attention - the message was "Practice first - paperwork second"!

Keep your thoughts and inspiration coming - am interested to see where we can go with this!

Thanks everyone, Green Hippo - why not give it a try!

Sunny day - I like it!

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heyjude I am with you all the way. I've been an EY advisor too and feel strongly that it is so easy for settings to get so caught up in the pressure to evidence everything that the fun and creativity of being with the children is lost. Perhaps there is a setting you work with who are confident enough to feel they would be able to justify themselves to Ofsted if they went down this line?

 

I know some settings locally who are doing just this and one in particular got Outstanding across the board. Perhaps you know settings not too far from you who are working this way? I found taking practitioners on visits to other settings can work wonders as they can see what can be done.

 

I also wonder if you know about 5x5x5=creativity? They promote working with an artist and follow the children's interests spontaneously. If you go to www.5x5x5=creativity.org.uk their website will explain all and perhaps give you some examples to show settings.

 

Good luck

Gruffalo2

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JoJom I am so with you.it is unreal!!.In my setting,I am described as the most un-organised person as I leavekeyworker files to do till the end,don't do progress reports at work,don't always do displays on time.However,may i say all my keyworker files were done,progress reports done,transition records done etc etc i even got info on letters and sounds etc I DO ALL THIS AT HOME.apart from observational snapshots,i believe no paperwork should become before the children.The children come first!!!wish you would come to my setting ha!!

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i believe no paperwork should become before the children.The children come first!!!

 

Yay! Well said :o

 

Perhaps I should make this into a big banner to go over the door?!

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Its nice to see you joining in again heyjude, you stayed away too long!

Thank you Susan - I got bogged down with all the "stuff" and only dipped in and out of the FSF. So I spent the Bank Holiday making up for lost time!!! It's good to be back.

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I totally agree with the OP.

 

Speaking as a parent, I have wondered whether I could insist that our setting DOESN'T do any paperwork on my daughter (some kind of data protection request, perhaps!). She is a little girl and an individual, not someone who needs their every move followed and documented. I know for a fact that her reception teacher will learn about her through experience and not through a written profile full of bits of evidence.

 

All this paperwork is designed to do is to force you to prove your professionalism, exactly the same as they have been doing in primary and secondary schools since the national curriculum came in.

 

Rant over.

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Speaking as a parent, I have wondered whether I could insist that our setting DOESN'T do any paperwork on my daughter (some kind of data protection request, perhaps!).

Rant away, SuzieC8!

 

I'm not sure whether parents can apply for an exemption from the EYFS or just the setting as a whole. Perhaps someone here can enlighten me!

 

I'd like to think that our observation and assessment procedures do show the rounded picture of the individual child, with the links to the development matters statements showing what she is learning and what she can do. One plus is that our parents are much more aware of (and appreciate) the work we do and how their children learn and develop than before when they were clearly 'just playing' all morning at nursery! :o

 

Maz

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Sorry about my spelling of excitement - fingers running away with me in the excitement!!!

 

 

You can edit it by going to one of your posts and clicking 'full edit'.

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Maz, I really hate to say this but I only gave my son's profile a quick read through when he left pre-school and it didn't tell me anything I didn't already know about him (although I did very much appreciate the time that had gone into preparing it). Of course this might be different for other parents. However, I didn't feel that the practitioner's investment in his profile was of so much value that the time couldn't have been spent better playing with him or doing other things for the setting, iyswim.

 

I do genuinely hope that they give parents a better idea of what goes on in pre-school settings, but in all honesty I think that parents either (a) are really interested and appreciate your work anyway or (:o see settings as a childcare option rather than an educational one.

 

I hope that doesn't sound too cynical.

 

In terms of opting out of the EYFS, I suspect they will find some way to link that to the nursery grant, i.e. that you can't opt out if you accept the grant. I have no big problem with the EYFS, I like its play based approach, but I do think the paperwork is totally over the top (just like it was in the early days of the national curriculum). I also think it's trying to create a 'one size fits all' system that doesn't reflect the individuality of children and also of different parts of the country.

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Maz, I really hate to say this but I only gave my son's profile a quick read through when he left pre-school and it didn't tell me anything I didn't already know about him (although I did very much appreciate the time that had gone into preparing it).

I think that's fine - clearly the staff built up a good understanding of your son and you had a good relationship with the setting where lots of information was shared. The profile would have therefore done a good job of briefing the teacher about your son's capabilities, provided they had time to read it (and I know that can be a real issue when a teacher has several (or lots) of profiles to read).

 

I do genuinely hope that they give parents a better idea of what goes on in pre-school settings, but in all honesty I think that parents either (a) are really interested and appreciate your work anyway or (:( see settings as a childcare option rather than an educational one.

You may be right in your summation of the various approaches of parents' views of the childcare services we provide. My views on how some settings/practitioners view parents are well known but sometimes even I find it hard not to conclude that parents can be an ungrateful lot, by and large! xD I probably emphasised the wrong bit of that sentence in my previous post, but what I really meant was that once parents saw how we observe and assess children they were much more aware of how children were learning from the experiences and resources we provide.

 

In terms of opting out of the EYFS, I suspect they will find some way to link that to the nursery grant, i.e. that you can't opt out if you accept the grant.

There isn't any need to link it to the grant because the EYFS is statutory whether or not you are registered with your Local Authority to offer the free entitlement - this is one of the major bugbears of the OpenEYE campaign. They want its status to be reduced to 'advisory' rather than statutory because it restricts the parents' ability to make choices about how their child should be educated and cared for in pre-shool.

 

As for the paperwork, I think each group needs to design their systems with the minimum of paperwork to derive the maximum benefit to children. There really is no need to have reams of paper to demonstrate that children are making good progress, so long as the setting is able to demonstrate that their assessments of children are sound, and their planning is effective in promoting children's learning and development.

 

The system that Sally Thomas advocates is a prime example of a minimum amount of paper showing how the key person plans effectively for their key group with six pieces of paper and the child's observation folder/learning journey. That's an over simplification, but it does show that more paper doesn't necessarily mean better quality!

 

Anyone care to take my place on the soapbox now? :o

 

Maz

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I don't actually think the EYFS wants huge amounts of paperwork and a letter came round earlier in the year from the National Strategies to emphasise that paperwork should not take over from good interactions with the children.

We have all just gone mad creating masses of paperwork to try and make sure we are doing it all right.

Maybe it is time to work out what is really needed!

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heyjude, I don't suppose you have a copy of that letter about paper work from National Strategies or even a reference or date so that I could try and get hold of a copy. I have been trying to get my setting to cut down on paper work for ages, as we have virtually no time to interact with the children we have so much paperwork. It sounds just the kind of thing that would help my arguement.

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Do you have any more information on the "Sally Thomas system" Maz, it sounds interesting

Edited by Guest
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Thanks for that link Maz, and glad to see you on your soapbox!

 

I had a look at it, and it does appear that if a parent applies for an exemption, the local authority can decide not to give them the nursery grant. You can appeal for an exemption on either religious or philosophical grounds.

 

For all that they SAY they don't want lots of paperwork, there's a kind of unwritten consensus I feel that if you do have lots of it, you're likely to get a better ofsted. Also, it's not just what you have to write, but what you have to read, and the time that takes, which is an issue.

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I got this in a news letter

 

EYFS exemptions – the first application, the first refusal

 

Open EYE has been contacted by a childminder who has had her application for exemption from the EYFS learning and development requirements rejected.

 

As far as we know, this is the first decision made by the DCSF on an exemption application.

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