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What Happens To Your Observations?


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We put our observations and photos of each child into a book, which I shared with parents at our Parents Evening last term when we were discussing their progress. Several parents asked if they could keep the book at the end of the year but I wasn't sure I could do this. Generally, we send home all the children's work (which we keep in folders) but the observation books get passed on to the Year 1 teacher. Until this year, I was teaching mixed YR/Y1/Y2 so I was effectively passing books on to myself and I have to admit that I never actually looked at them. When I passed them on last year, the new Y1/2 teacher also didn't do anything with the books and only used the highlighted profile points as reference.

 

So, my question is - can I give the parents their child's observation book to keep as a record of their Reception Year? Seems to me that they would treasure it far more than we do!! What do others do?

 

Thanks

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We put our observations and photos of each child into a book, which I shared with parents at our Parents Evening last term when we were discussing their progress. Several parents asked if they could keep the book at the end of the year but I wasn't sure I could do this. Generally, we send home all the children's work (which we keep in folders) but the observation books get passed on to the Year 1 teacher. Until this year, I was teaching mixed YR/Y1/Y2 so I was effectively passing books on to myself and I have to admit that I never actually looked at them. When I passed them on last year, the new Y1/2 teacher also didn't do anything with the books and only used the highlighted profile points as reference.

 

So, my question is - can I give the parents their child's observation book to keep as a record of their Reception Year? Seems to me that they would treasure it far more than we do!! What do others do?

 

Thanks

 

We put lots of observations and photographs into a book and this is passed onto the next setting briefly. Parents are fully aware that their child's book has been passed to the next setting and are encouraged to ask for it to be returned to them as soon as possible. Of course, signed permission is needed from the parents in order to do this.

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We put all children's observations into their learning journey folders at the end of their time with us. We're pre-school so this may be different to school.

 

Reception teachers have told us in the past that they don't look at the obs because they want to do their own.

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As a Day Nursery we complete the Learning Journeys for each child and these are given to the parents to keep ( our schools know the parents have these so often ask to see them on the home visit) we complete a separate transfer record for the school for each child, and this is passed on as a starting point. The school then do thier own Learning Journey but I'm not sure what happens with those - I would assume as it is a record of thier child and if you have a summary why can't the parents have them, especially if they are just going to be put away in a cupboard and not used - maybe eventually destroyed ? :o

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Guest jenpercy

Yeah we can fail OFSTED if we don't do this stuff - but the school's don't take too much notice of EYFS

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TesTwinkles--you need to discuss this in school.

 

I would have thought that once the profiles have been completed that the observations etc that you have compiled would not be needed by the year 1 teacher, but that a resume of the profile points scored rather than just a total score as submitted, would be more helpful.

 

However, there may be reasons why the school would wish to keep these on site as evidence for Ofsted etc.

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It's interesting that teachers obviously wish to do their own observations, which is understandable as they need to get to know the child themselves. However, it does make me question who and what the vast quantity of written observations are actually for. Are they for planning, for parents, for our own records, to track progress? Who actually benefits from them being WRITTEN rather than done in a more informal way? Is it simply that without the written evidence, practitioners are not trusted to act professionally and to observe their children at play and work out what they need next? If that's the case, it's a sad state comment on how the profession is viewed.

 

When I was teaching full time I didn't have to write down observations of individual pupils, I could just use my professional judgement alongside examples of their work and occasional assessments, usually a whole class exercise that I marked more formally.

 

Interesting discussion ... I really think as a profession we/you need to question WHY you are asked to do so much record keeping, it seems an awful lot more than I was ever required to do as a classroom teacher.

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Interesting discussion ... I really think as a profession we/you need to question WHY you are asked to do so much record keeping, it seems an awful lot more than I was ever required to do as a classroom teacher.

I'm not sure whether you were teaching pre- or post-introduction the EYFS, but I wonder how the amount of observing you did then compares to what teachers in the EYFS do now.

 

The official line is that the EYFS shouldn't be a huge paper-based system: didn't they say at one point that the only thing you need in writing is the Profile? I certainly think we need to consider what we're observing and why, and not just observing for the sake of it.

 

Maz

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I'm not sure whether you were teaching pre- or post-introduction the EYFS, but I wonder how the amount of observing you did then compares to what teachers in the EYFS do now.

 

The official line is that the EYFS shouldn't be a huge paper-based system: didn't they say at one point that the only thing you need in writing is the Profile? I certainly think we need to consider what we're observing and why, and not just observing for the sake of it.

 

Maz

 

Quite a long time pre EYFS, I'm afraid (how do you do a blush smiley!!?)

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We all develop our own variations of keeping a child’s Learning Journey and we do these for all the reasons you have mentioned SusieC8. They are a wonderful keepsake for a family of their child’s earliest and magical years, they provide a record and evidence that the child is learning and how we are planning for them, they support what we say to line managers, OFSTED etc. etc. We use them to show progress. For those of us in schools, we have to demonstrate progress through the age ranges and this is part of the school’s grading by LA’s and OFSTED. Attainment is a limiting judgement, so will ultimately affect whether a school fails an inspection. Heads may roll!

Observations etc. are snapshots of a moment in time, as we do carry a great deal of knowledge of children in our heads. We couldn’t possibly write it all down as we’d do nothing else and neither do we need to, one really good observation can go a very long way to providing evidence across all areas of learning. Learning Journeys also demonstrate that we are highly skilled practitioners to those higher up who do not understand how young children learn best. These are our way of demonstrating evidence for our assessments. I think there does need to be this objective evidence, in much the same way as a teacher of older children would have to have robust evidence of their judgements. We are all accountable. I do think that we can go over the top though!

We love our children and take great pride in making Learning Journeys and looking through them, but in terms of passing on observations and teachers not reading them, I think that is because once a learning milestone has been passed, and that child has moved on in learning, then the previous evidence is obsolete other than as a record of progress. I would look back if I found a problem but I wouldn’t read every child’s LJ from start to finish. My experience is that summary records are passed on to schools, and sometimes and usefully, a written report, and if the child is moving into reception the teacher will also baseline the children using her own observations. A great deal can change, over the summer in particular. Some children may have moved on in their learning and others appear to go back. A child may be finding transition difficult, or something may have happened in a child’s life to change that child. The teacher needs to get to know the child and what is needed now. Children also react to different personalities in different ways. Where children are moving up from a school nursery it is more than likely that the staff will know the children, as staff will discuss the them, and hopefully their judgements will be internally moderated. At the end of EYFS the teacher’s judgements against some areas of the EY Profile will be moderated externally.

I think parents should always be given their children’s Learning Journeys, as most parents will cherish them for years to come.

It will be interesting to see what the Government intend to do to "free us from bureaucracy!"

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:o Well I work in Reception and find the detail from your observations incredibly worth while. All the Pre school I work with give me the observations which I feed into my assessment and then I give them to the Parents at the first parents evenings. It seems to work well for all and gives me a better insight into the child.
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I wish I'd had more of something like this to read when I got my year one class in september! I'd say pass them up if the other teacher wants them but if not send them home to the parents. If the year one teacher does want them then get her to pass them on later when she no longer needs them. I can't see you needing them for Ofsted since the things you haave to do are the profile and communicating results to parents, you can be outstanding without doing learning journeys at all! Also you can argue it shows how you are involving parents and showing them the work their child is doing.

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My main worry about them is the paperwork involved. It really saddens me when I see staff notice a child doing something special, and instead of celebrating it together, they rush off to get a sticky note or pad so they can record it. Personally I'd rather they just took pleasure in that fleeting moment.

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I have a lovely picture of me going in as a volunteer and gardening with some children. We were having an amazing time digging and chatting, and in the background are 3 practitioners all writing on their clipboards.

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Just wanted to add that I am always so grateful to read each child's learning story from pre-school when they come up to me in reception. I agree with everything JacquiL said. I find observating children great and use them on a daily basis to inform my planning. There are 3 adults in my room and when I'm teavhing focussed groups I value the observations of my TAs even more as I otherwise would miss all of that learning.

 

Whilst I agree you must cherish moments of valuable acheivement with the child (you can always record it later) I think we have to accept that we need to have evidence of our assessment just like is expected at KS1 and 2.

 

I have been wondering what to do with our learning stories, I am going to give them to year 1 teacher but then when she feels she doesn't need them anymore, once she has more up to date obs then she can send them home to the parents.

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I work at a Pre school and we have been told that the Learning Journeys should be passed to parents when the child goes upto school. We thought that this was a waste of good information and came up with a way of having our cake and eating it

 

We photcopy the pages from the last half term which shows all the latest achievements and stages that the child has reached and we send these into school ahead of the child so that the Reception teacher can read them at leisure before the children start school. The actual Learning Journey is presented to the child on the last day. Win-win. :o

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We're a pre-school and have to say we have a wonderful relationship with our main feeder school.

They visit us this term - spend a little time meeting children and looking at our scrapbooks with them - mainly photos and examples of work etc.

We also do one learning journey sheet from the EYFS disc each half-term (6 a year) which is added to scrapbook.

During the last term we do a little 'This is Me' booklet which goes directly to school- they then pass this back to parents.

The school asks for a copy of the last LJ sheet which they keep.

 

We have cut down our paperwork vastly since Christmas - and I intend to cut down even more in September. Yes the scrapbooks are beautiful reminders of a part of the children's life - but we are here to promote the children learning through play and not just to create wonderful reminder books for parents!!!! Sometimes the scrapbooks/LJ/observations take over the day. Personally I find the more experienced (can I say older?!!) staff members seem to achieve the balance easier than those just coming into the profession - but I suppose that's because they may only know the EYFS. ( and haven't become old and cynical yet!!)

 

Sorry went on a bit of a rant there- and it didn't even relate to OP.

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:o Well I work in Reception and find the detail from your observations incredibly worth while. All the Pre school I work with give me the observations which I feed into my assessment and then I give them to the Parents at the first parents evenings. It seems to work well for all and gives me a better insight into the child.

 

Just to say that I agree with you - the actual observations would be wonderful to read and give a real insight into the children - I have never been lucky enough to have received them however. Having said that, I think it is the parents who would enjoy reading them the most.

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  • 3 weeks later...

I teach a reception class. Firstly I wanted to say that as a teacher I find the learning journeys that come from Nurseries/pre-school settings so useful. I don't often get to see all of them for my class as parents don't bring them in but the ones I do see feed into the reception profiles (I photocopy relevant bits with parents permission). These learning journeys are so much better than the record of transfer forms.

 

The reception profiles/learning journeys that we do go home with the parents at the end of the year. We show them to the yr1 teacher who will make notes/copy any relevant bits for them. We then have one last parents evening when we go through the profiles and the parents get to take them home to keep as a reference for their childs first year at school. The school keeps the assessment sheets where we have ticked off the childs development matters stages.

 

Our headteacher is really on board with the EYFSP and agrees that by sending home the profiles we don't need to do an end of year report like the other classes so its win win I think.

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