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I have been trying to persuade my colleagues to cut down on paperwork in order to spend more time interacting with children, and I had thought that this was something that Ofsted might support. Currently managers want us to try and record all activities that the children participate in every session - which I think is detrimental to interacting well with the children.

 

However, in going through some recent ofsted reports I have just found the following (so maybe I am wrong - we do need to spend all our time recording what every child plays with every day???):

 

"Whilst children have access to activities that enhance all areas of their learning and have the freedom to choose activities for themselves, current record keeping procedures do not keep a check to see if they have participated in the full range of available activities. Consequently, some children gravitate towards the activities they enjoy most and miss out on others. This has the potential to limit their ability to make the best possible progress in relation to meeting the early learning goals." Ofsted 11 May 2009

 

This was given as the key 'step to improve provision' so ofsted obviously thought it was reallly important.

 

This seems all wrong to me, surely children are supposed to be following their interests - and it they gravitate to one thing surely the arugement would be to extend and enhance this thing rather than taking them away from the interests in the name of early learning goals??? - and also isn't a key person awareness of their children's interests more important than 'record keeping'. I must have misunderstood the EYFS??

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Hmm, no, I think THEY have!

 

What's wrong with children gravitating to what they enjoy? Isn't that what we are meant to promote - to enhance their learning through their interests via 'next steps'?

 

Perhaps the setting had no rationale or argument to promote their point of view? Surely if they had then the inspector would have had to take that into account?

 

Is there anyone on here who's report it was?? Speak up - we want to provide you with ammunition to fight back! :(:oxD

Edited by Cait
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AAAGGGGHHHH!!!! :o

 

That does make me cross - it goes against EYFS and is not consistent with other inspections. We were criticised last year for not having enough full choice. Here's the quote from our Ofsted:

 

Effectiveness of the Foundation Stage

Grade: 2

Children are given a good start to their education in the Reception classes. Parents commented

that they were very pleased how quickly their children settle when they are first admitted. On

entry to the Reception classes, children's skills are similar to those generally found. Excellent

focused teaching and carefully conducted assessments enable children to make outstanding

progress in the teacher-directed activities. Overall, though, their progress and achievement is

good. This is because the Foundation Stage curriculum, though of good quality, at present

does not ensure that there is an appropriate balance between the activities directed by the

adults and those that the children choose for themselves. The classrooms and resources, both

indoors and outside, are not organised sufficiently well to enable children to make these choices.

Despite this, most attain the expected goals for children entering Year 1, and many exceed

them.

What the school should do to improve further

■ Extend opportunities, both indoors and outdoors, for children in the Reception classes to

choose activities for themselves.

 

We were already aware of the above and have made lots of changes to enable this - we would never record what different children choose - first of all it's not manageable, secondly there's more important things to record like what they are actually doing when they choose a certain activity! There are so many different learning opportunities, as you all know, from each activity that they choose. Also them making their own decisions in itself is really important in my opinion!

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Hi don't know if this is relevent but below is a quote from our recent OFSTED inspection

 

' Teachers use observations to check daily on children’s progress and are quick to tailor new learning experiences to meet their needs. Staff encourage children to move freely indoors or outdoors, giving them the independence to choose from the wide range of activities offered'.

 

We don't spend all day 'doing' observations but we are still able to ensure the children cover the different areas of learning.

 

He saw evidence in the children's learning journeys of how they covered the areas e.g. one little boy didn't like mess/painting etc but loved cars has one page in his LJ is of him printing with vehicles. We were able to talk the inspector through how we 'manipulated' activities to cover children's interests and their development.

 

we have 24 children in a school nursery.

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I also think the children should definitely be given even more opportunities to follow their interests and it donsn't matter if they tend to access one area more than another. After all, 'all areas of learning are equally important and interelated'!

 

Gruffalo2 :o

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I would agree Gruffalo2, it seems much better to let children follow their interests. I am sure there have been things written about the benefits to children's learning by allowing them to become really absorbed in things, and after all we can always move them gently on.

 

Katekit, your observations are obviously meaningful and focussed on the child's development with the aim of tailoring learning experiences to their needs. Now this seems a million miles away from the assertion about 'record keeping' needing record the activities each child chooses to do with the idea of moving them on from the ones the are interested in.

 

I would be very interested in knowing how you manage this logistically by the way

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Consequently, some children gravitate towards the activities they enjoy most and miss out on others. This has the potential to limit their ability to make the best possible progress in relation to meeting the early learning goals." Ofsted 11 May 2009

 

' Teachers use observations to check daily on children’s progress and are quick to tailor new learning experiences to meet their needs. Staff encourage children to move freely indoors or outdoors, giving them the independence to choose from the wide range of activities offered'.

Maybe the inspector in the first report didn't see the evidence that katekit's inspector did - perhaps practitioners' assessment and planning systems weren't well developed enough to plan effectively for children's learning. katekit's report shows that in that setting practitioners use what they know about children's interests to tempt them into becoming involved with all areas of the curriculum and to try new activities that challenge and provoke them. Perhaps in the setting starburst was referring to practitioners have gone too far in the direction of following children's interests and the planning cycle has got a little out of kilter?

 

Maz

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Had a bad night with my son so bear with me - (bare?)

 

There are two of us in nursery and we do a lot of anecdotal obs, found a great thing on the forum called 'catch as you can' sheets, name/date/area of learning and 4 on a page- a great big THANK YOU to whoever devised these as they are so 'do-able'. We also do a LOT of talking about what we have both seen in the nursery during the day, not everything gets written down. We take lots of photos. our 'helpers' have been with us long enough to know that if they see or hear anything of interest they pass it on to us.

All the 'obs' are put into the 'obs file' - usually at the weekend, date order which shows progress - or can highlight a potential problem.

The children love their Learning Journeys which are a mixture of formats that we feel are visually stimulating for the children/parents to look at and for us to do - lots of individual 'full' LJ (using the format from the EYFS site), some shorter ones which are more 'story based' (but include dev matters and next steps) and class stories - where I do try to put individual photos on if there are any - if not group photos.

I was so stressed before OFSTED as I didn't know whether what we were doing was 'right' - it worked for us but would it be ok? anyway the lovely inspector liked it, we had all the proof he needed to see.

Most of the 'work' is done after school or at the weekend.

I couldn't find the 'catch as you can' sheets on the Forum when I looked for them the other week, but they get trimmed and stuck into the file, then I handwrite dev matters (sometimes - depending on how much time I have) and the next steps. I also jot things that can 'inform planning' on my planning sheet for later in the week or the next week. We do do full observations on each child - they all have them every half term, more if they are required.

At the moment we are feeling quite relaxed about what we are doing, we can see it working, we have been inspected and the EY Advisor has also been in and said everything was ok. Sometimes it worries me that we seem to be too relaxed but at the moment we are going to enjoy what we are doing. Next year might be different!

Cath

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Maybe the inspector in the first report didn't see the evidence that katekit's inspector did - perhaps practitioners' assessment and planning systems weren't well developed enough to plan effectively for children's learning. katekit's report shows that in that setting practitioners use what they know about children's interests to tempt them into becoming involved with all areas of the curriculum and to try new activities that challenge and provoke them. Perhaps in the setting starburst was referring to practitioners have gone too far in the direction of following children's interests and the planning cycle has got a little out of kilter?Maz

 

Was going to say something like this too but as MAz has said it first I won't repeat all of that but just add this -

 

My perception of EYFS is it is about getting a balance of child initiated/Shared/adult initiated learning going on. Some of that would be from within the child's own interests but equally some can be by stimulating new interests either by building on the child's contexts like kitekat so clearly explained with the boy and his cars or by providing new stimuli that open new areas of interest up.

 

Maybe it's getting under the activity to see the learning that is important, not just looking where they are??

 

Cx

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'record all activities that the children participate in every session'

 

We have also tried to introduce 'WE HAVE PLAYED HERE TODAY' sheets for the children to write their name/mark on in each area with a little success, but these have worked in our reception class.

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We just printed sheets saying 'we played here today' and blu tacked them to the wall, the reception children were all able to write their names and our nursery children enjoyed the fact that they could take the paper off, write 'their name' and then blu tack it back on!

 

We also have PLOD sheets on the wall where we note the children's particular interests and then jot down where we think their learning could/should go (he loves that but doesn't seem to explore this AOL eg likes dinosaurs but doesn't choose PSRN - counting dinosaurs?)

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Thanks Katekit sounds very well organised - and I think you are right that not everything needs to be written down.

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Thanks for sharing your obs-assessment-planning procedure, Katekit - it sounds very similar to what we do. Can I ask - do you write a next step for every observation that you make? We write our short obs on sticky labels and write the AOL (and FA if it was taken during a Focused activity), however, we only write next steps on our learning journeys (long obs). I look at all the sticky labels and learning journeys as I plan to ensure that I am feeding interests and immediate needs into the following weeks planning. I feel that we just don't have the time to write next steps for every obs?? How do you keep track off all the next steps - to ensure both you and other adults know what each child needs next? Do you have somewhere else that you write this down as a reminder? (hope that doesn't sound like I don't know my children)

We have a 'unplanned learning' box on my daily evaluation sheet where we record any new interests/needs that we have obs as well as any CI learning that we have been involved in/obs and any next steps. I've been thinking about having a sheet like you with name, obs and PLODs but wonder whether I'll just be repeating something that I've written elsewhere?

Can I also ask whether you still do medium term plans and if you do how you work this - how do you keep track of the learning that needs to be covered in the next medium term?

 

Sorry for all the questions!

Green Hippo xx

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Sorry we have been away for a few days.

 

No I don't write next steps for everything, sometimes it would be as simple as 'continue to do more of the same' and as I know that I don't see any point. If it was something more important like the child didn't like markmaking I would then write 'try squeezy bottles and water outside', but that would also go on my planning sheet so it's there to remind me for the next day or the next week. When writing up the obs file it depends on how much I have to do but I would make sure that each child has an equal share of 'next steps' and that one child hasn't got loads written and another has very few.

 

The thing about repeating yourself by writing it down in different places wouldn't worry me as I tend to jot things down as I think about them and stick them on the wall and I do read them as I go past which I feel helps to keep me on track!

The PLODs sheets are stuck on the wall and they are filled in when we find a line of dev for each child, so it starts empty and gets filled in as we go along which is visibly 'stimulating'?, it's also where we stand to welcome the children in so we see it often.

 

As I am doing the planning sheets I work from the Dev Matters (for the objectives) and this is how I keep track of our coverage, if I feel we NEED to do something specific I will put some activities in - but will try to fit it onto the interests that the children are already developing eg an awareness of 'weight' - wieghing scales next to the wild animals/cars and have an adult there to support the children as they explore the scales and what they do. Then the scales would probably become the activity with different resources later in the day or the next day.

 

We haven't really used medium term planning this year, other than seasons, Christmas/Easter etc. We have used te childrens interests and developed things from there. Things have developed from quite simple things really - we did cats because we have a cat suit which is very popular - lots of CLL and number. We did 'people who help us' from a little boy saying 'this is my rabbit and he's poorly' - we started to play vets and doctors then we developed role play into a proper hospital as their play kept going back to nurses etc. we had a nurse in for a visit, the ambulance service came in, we have had the fire service and the police are coming on the 25th - now if Josh hadn't said about his rabbit I don't know what areas we would have explored.

 

This year has been great, I think there is so much paper work that we have to do that we have to make it do something for us - it's got to be useful, that's why I like the 'freedom' of planning from their interests, we observe that the children like/dislike something so we can use the info to plan the next steps instead of saying 'oh well they liked that but tomorrow we are doing ..........'

 

Hope that has been of some help, we have enjoyed this year and I think the fact that we can both see that the paperwork we have done has been a useful tool and not just there to be done has been a big part of it.

 

Cath

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Thanks for sharing how you work, Katekit. Do you use your PLODs sheet to write your next steps/PLODs from the obs that go in their learning journals or do you use these sheets for different information?

Could I also ask how you organise your free-flow outdoors? There are also 2 of us in Nursery to 25 children and we struggle to offer proper free-flow. We find that if we have 1 in, 1 out that the person who is doing the adult-led activity is having to stop-start all the time to manage the room and that the interactions and observations are not are varied as they should/could be. We are able to have a limited number of children out without an adult but feel that we are always checking on them so are never properly involved in children's play.

Would love to hear how you manage this?

Green Hippo xx

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Hi Green Hippo,

 

We use the PLOD sheets purely as a visual aid so that we can jot ideas down and keep a check that we have covered every child's interests. there might be two written down this week, another three next week etc, it's an ongoing piece of information. it is literally child's name - interest - idea e.g. Jamie - water- mark making with squeezy bottles (we would know that this was to develop his interest in water play into the CLL area where he has less interest).

 

Our children do not always want to play outside, especially if they have been to the hall or to church, so we go with what they want to do. One of us will go out and the other stays in and then as the children establish what they are doing the adult might be able to move more between the two - like you we struggle with the focus activity, we do have 'parent helpers' who come in (they have been coming in for a few years so they know nursery routines well).

Sometimes - especially on nice afternoons most of the children will choose to be out and only a few choose to stay in, they seem to be easier to manage for some reason!

 

Sometimes we realise we can only do what we can do and we leave things later in the day or later in the week!

 

Cath x

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