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Observations - Snap Shot Vs Focussed


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Hi all,

 

This is the second time I have written this after my rabbit jumped on computer and it all disappeared!!!

 

I was wondering if I could get your opinions on snap shot and focussed observations. I recently visited a setting with an excellent OFSTED to discuss planning as we have been unsure (as I think lots of settings are) of our own planning techniques. We got onto the subject of observations and the Leader said that they do one focussed observation, and the key worker will plan time for this, for each child per term and this informs their next steps for each of the six areas for the following term. However, we have been doing lots of snap shot obs, these may be short (20 secs) or some longer (15mins), they are not planned for but are done when the key worker or other practitioner thinks that the child have may achieved something new. We then relate them back to the Dev. Matters and use some of these to find next steps for the child.

 

I feel that this is more beneficial as you could follow a child round for 20 mins and not gain any info in some areas of EYFS or gain any new info about how the child is learning plus we were finding that when planned for this just wasn't happening as something was more important e.g. changing a nappy or a little scrap.

 

I put this to our CC teacher and she said that we have to do focussed observations on all children - end of story.

 

I don't really want to waste time on something I feel is not worth doing but on the other hand I do not want OFSTED to pick this up and look at it negatively.

 

Thanks in advance

 

S

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Hi there sennelsal, Im sure that if you read through the many threads here on this you will find a whole range of views on this.

 

I always preferred doing longer observations, as I found it told me an unbelievable amount more than many 'snapshots' do. I would be absolutely amazed to observe a child for even 10 minutes and not learn anything at all from them, for this is where you see the child really absorbed in what they are doing and getting a real insight into their thinking. I also found doing this showed me how the areas of learning linked so much.

 

That doesn't mean I didn't do snapshots at all, I would capture the things I felt were new that Id not seen before.

 

Of course doing longer obs does come at a cost..that of time and organization, especially in a busy nursery or classroom, but for me, one worth making the effort to try and do, for what it told me about my children, which then influenced what I provided next for them.

 

That's my view, Im sure there will be others along the way. Have you asked your CC teacher to explain to you his/her preference..its important that you understand why something is the way it is, so perhaps a team discussion on this in in order.

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Thanks for the quick reply Mundia,

 

I understand why people like to do focussed obs, however, I and the rest of the team feel that we get the same if not more from snap shot obs. We are a very small setting and we very often only have 2 practitioners working at a time so taking one person out is difficult when planned for...not to say that sometimes we do get the opportunity to do a longer obs. but these are not planned for. I looked at the example focussed observations on the EYFS disc and I feel that we pick up on just as much if not more than they do through the snap shot obs. Not only that, we can plan to extend next steps in several differents strands throughout the term rather than just 1 strand in each of the 6 areas at the end.

 

I feel I can justify why we like to do our obs this way I just don't want to be penalised by by the big O for not doing focussed obs.

S

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I do both.

 

I agree with mundia. The 10 minute observations are very informative. They tell me a lot about a child in different ways to a short snapshot observation (e.g. language for thinking, concentration and involvement in activities).

 

I am in reception class with 30 children and me and TA, but we manage to get 1-2 10 mins observations done on each child per term.

 

When I was in a NN in a nursery in a CC we sometimes got 3-4 10 mins observations done per child per term as well as snapshots and photos!!

 

Altogether, I use snapshots, long observations, photos and parent contributions to inform the next steps in a child's learning. I think many others on the forum do it this way too.

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Sennensal, It seems we were typing at the same time!

 

I can understand your reasons, but I really do notice the difference in the information I get from longer observations.

I think Ofsted will be looking for settings/schools who use a variety of methods to gain information about a child's learning, there is no wrong or right way, but after 10 years of trying, I find the way I gather evidence now, is to the best way for me.

 

If you feel you can justify your reasons for not doing them (perhaps that you tried them but they were deemed no more useful than snapshots) then Ofsted might accept you reasons...... but as you probably know, ofsted inspectors do not have consistent views!!!

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Thanks millhill,

 

We do do longer obs (10-15 mins) they are just not planned for... and we probably get 1-4 for each child a term(depending on whether they attend 3 or 15 hrs a week) and they do deliver a lot of info about the child, it just the fact that they're not planned for or written on a 'focussed observation' sheet...although we do write them on sticky white labels so they could be put onto a sheet with 'focussed obs' written on it!

 

Do you plan next steps based on snap shot obs or just from the focussed?

 

Thanks again

S

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if you are doing longer observations without planning for them and you are finding these successful then I think you are efficient in your observations. A planned observation will not necessarily tell you anything more.

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I think using a variety of observation techniques gives you a good profile of evidence and we find for different children different observation methods are needed- having said that we aim to do long, focused observations once a term and snapshots continually. I love doing the longer observations - you can dissect them to find lots of evidence.

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if you are doing longer observations without planning for them and you are finding these successful then I think you are efficient in your observations. A planned observation will not necessarily tell you anything more.

I've lost count of the number of times I've planned to observe a child in a particular area only to find the child has other ideas entirely! :o

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It's about appropriate use of any one of many techniques, I mean we haven't even mentioned things like tracking across time (every 10mins or so) or a child's own assessments of their activities.

 

For me it's about having a tool kit and using the appropriate tool for the job and the type of information you want using your professional judgement.

 

I don't think you can plan to do a snap shot because it happens from within the activities the child is engaged in and is that "thing" they suddenly do differently or better or with more confidence - it's their comment that shows what they are thinking. A timed observation as others have said on the other hand gives you an in depth overview of a child as a study to get inside their heads in a more structured way for the adult and ensures that all children do get this focus as a result.

 

Ofsted are not really that bothered, in my experience, HOW you gather information - just that you do and that you use it. The stronger that link between what you know about a child and how you use it to effectively plan for progress is what makes good to outstanding.

 

Cx

Edited by catma
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we do 1 or 2 long obs(not focused) a term. This gives us hopefully some insight into a childs interests and a kind of base line, we then use the rest of the term planning next steps and activities either child led or adult led, but this is done on a weekly basis.

 

We also do tracking obs alongside our long term obs we also look at well being and involvement

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