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Where to start!!

I thought I had it Sussed but staff keep moaning!!!!

 

To plan: each key person documents within the seven areas what their children are interested in/working towards- this is done once a term. Parents see it and contribute. Ongoing spontaneous obs and planned activities still going on around plans. Learning journey/development matters statements updates half termly.

 

Staff say this is too much to be doing, my argument is its once a term to plan (updated if needed but over the term children can repeat and try in different ways), half termly learning journey and development mattered statements updated.

 

Is this too much please help feeling rather deflated.

 

Would love to hear your views and ideas.

 

Thank you x

 

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If it makes you feel better, I expect - [pack-away preschool]

 

1)Once a term a sheet with seven areas age-bands assessed.

 

2)Scrapbooks - ongoing, once a week time allowed to work on these 'child free' (info from these contribute to the above sheet)

 

3)Daily - initialed [key-children- next steps] contribution to our daily set up plan.

 

1 - staff moan about doing this

2- staff say not enough time

3 - hardly ever happens!

 

I do have a great team and they all 'know' both their own and all other children if you get my drift :1b

However they are never happy about paperwork :( I have tried getting them fully involved in the design/layout [can't think of a better word] but this produced zilch ideas :huh: :huh: :huh: ....well, actually, that is a lie- one staff member produced something....but the others turned there noses up at that too :huh:

 

We do have regular planning meetings where all staff contribute verbally [and I do all the writing!!!!]... that works well :D

xx

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Been here before and it is hard. I got fed up with the moaning and for an entire week I became them. My deputy took on my duties for the week and I was on of the key people, observing, recording and planning etc.... They saw me managing it, shared in my struggles and by the end of the week, I had produced what I had been asking them to do. Did they have a leg to stand on when moaning? No....some still weren't happy (because I proved it was do-able) but I had buy in from the majority. ...its hard but unfortunately our govt demands a paperwork trail in evidence.....good luck!

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Hi All

 

Well I am glad it's not only me! My staff complain constantly about anything and everything to do with planning, observing, writing. I can sympathize with them as I know it is a lot of work, they currently get 2 hours each week over time to go a little way to make up the extra time that is needed.

 

I think one of the major gripes is the number of children they have in their key groups (12), unfortunately we have to have this many to survive but we run on a 1:5 ratio over 3's.

 

If anyone has any magical answers I will gladly listen.

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Hi All

 

Well I am glad it's not only me! My staff complain constantly about anything and everything to do with planning, observing, writing. I can sympathize with them as I know it is a lot of work, they currently get 2 hours each week over time to go a little way to make up the extra time that is needed.

 

I think one of the major gripes is the number of children they have in their key groups (12), unfortunately we have to have this many to survive but we run on a 1:5 ratio over 3's.

 

If anyone has any magical answers I will gladly listen.

 

I have this too, as the year progresses the key groups just get so big (ours are now at 11 each but they will grow even more) but you have to accept the children because of funds.

Funnily enough they don't moan, about lack of work in September, when they only have about 4 in a group :) !

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There are a couple of things that may help. First of all, you dont need to be crossing off development matters every so many weeks. Once you get used to using a best fit approach, it gets easier....honest!

Second, record what you need to, so think, do you really need THAT observations? Do you need THAT planning? If you cant see the wood for the trees, do you have a 'critical friend' you can go through your paperwork with honestly and openly?

 

Finally, this was my life saver when I was a nursery teacher. I completed my learning diaries with the children. It was the best way to make their books, well, theirs, they decided what to put in, they stuck them in and they revisited their learning as a result. I built it into the week as key person time, and I usualy worked with a couple of children at a time.. often teaming up a child who was very independent alongside one who needed a lot more of my support. Although this didnt remove all of the out of hours time, it did help an awful lot.

 

One final thing, I work with a few settings who have shifted away from giving each key person paid time each week to using that time for a team meeting, where they discuss their children, and plan together for the following week. Without exception they have all found this more beneficial, especially when they didnt previously evr have staff meetings.

 

There are no definite answers, but if the paperwork is getting you and your staff down, then its time to take a really critical look at what you do and how long it takes. Noone should ever HAVE to work over and above and noone can be expected to (even though most of us do..!) but observation and planning should be part of their job descriptions, as as such, you can expect that they will do it as part of their job.

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Second, record what you need to, so think, do you really need THAT observations? Do you need THAT planning? If you cant see the wood for the trees, do you have a 'critical friend' you can go through your paperwork with honestly and openly?

I've really tried to do this this year and it has made a difference both to my work load and to the quality of the learning journeys. I try to focus my recorded observations/photos on things which I know I see less often or find harder to remember. For example, I know that Bert loves construction, and constructs purposefully and creatively for hours at a time so I don't take photos or notes of that unless it's the time when he talks at length about the different sizes of the chicks he's made and how he's adapted the size of the nest to fit all of them on in which case my obs focuses on his use of size language. I no longer have books full of photos of a child in the reading corner/using playdough unless they're doing something significant. Hope that makes sense. Sorry, doesn't really help your problem much but I do have every sympathy!
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We do very similar......

 

Daily....mini obs, photos etc. Will now be trying to convince everyone that we don't need 6 pictures of a child doing the same thing or post it notes that tell us absolutely nothing!

 

Weekly.....focused activity time with key children. A chance to write up a more detailed observation if needed. Some have ten children to get through in one morning, it's hard but doable (just!)

 

Also weekly.....jot down in interest/needs book anything their key children want or need to work on.

 

Termly....trackers and summary and next step sheets.

 

I think the girls would appreciate being paid a few hours overtime to cover extra hours they put in keeping on top of the paperwork but the owner won't do that.

Every half term they get one morning each to catch up (away from everyone!) on their work but I know that they still end up doing some at home.

 

I think the key is going to be for everyone to keep reminding themselves that if the observation, paperwork, planning etc isn't telling us anything then don't bother writing it down.

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Guest griffclan

I think the balance of all this is a constant struggle for so many of us!!

I have also been focussing on 'quality' not quantity for obs and that has helped somewhat. However, after a recent visit from LEA QL we were told that we shouldn't do half termly next steps as that wasn't responsive enough to children's changing needs. She suggesed that every ob (post it note, photo or long ob) should have a next step written under it !! So her suggestionwas that the cycle should be; obsrve child, assess that ob (use best fit) , create next step based on what that ob tells you about needs/interests etc of child, plan enhancement to CP or focus activity to meet that next step to add to next weeks plan. During the next week you then observe them interacting (hopefully) with what was planned and document any evidence . The cycle then goes on either continuing with same next step because no evidence gained, so we either adapt what we planned so that child more interested etc or we have a new ob based on child initiated play and create a new next step.

any thoughts or comments on this would be welcome

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Thanks for all your replies. Some good ideas and good to hear it's not just me! The reason I do a half termly plan is that it has seven next steps which allows children to explore and repeat in many different ways both adult led and child initiated. To have a next step on each obs for me would be unmanageable (due to amount of key children) and the next steps would not all be clear to see. Anyone can pick up any plan for any child and see what that child's interests are and what they are working towards.

These plans can be updated at any point but to be honest over the half term there are so many different ways of offering the next step the children remain engaged and are secure at the end of it. That's not to say we do nothing else, we provide a range of adult led activities and set up continuos provision. Obs are focused and pictures taken. As already said we too have narrowed down what we recorded to ensure its meanigful.

I keep telling the staff it's only each half tem to write the plan, the have time to do this, update LJ's and overviews. I try to make minimal paperwork and am trying to engage the staff more in playing alongside.. Lets face it the minute you sit down to play the children swarm you, they love it!

 

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well skippy i can see where you're coming from but would have to say you are doing nearly twice as many next steps as we are in a term. I assume when you say that you do 7 next steps that you are doing one for each area of learning...is this necessary? this assumes that each child will develop on an even curve across all areas of the curriculum at a time. Some of my children have EAL and SEN and so the focus for them might be communication for the whole of the year...because without this it is difficult to assess the rest of their learning. Our Cp is varied and diverse and will give everyone the opportunity to do lots of different things and expand their knowledge and skills but that may not be the main focus for their next step. We set next steps (at a staff meeting) every fortnight....i then fit these on to a medium term plan. the environment plan is then developed from this and from the other needs of the children ( have to say i still have to tweak this bit a little) because all the staff know what all the next steps for all the children are they are then able to weave these into the play during the sessions.

Griffclan....well where do i begin?????

Has she done this in practise...or seen it done anywhere else? i despair sometimes! i have 60 children a day and could sometimes write 20 obs a day (not OFTEN don't panic :blink: xD probably if i'm obing something in particular ) i could end up with 100 next steps a week....this would hardly be S.M.A.R.T.

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The intention for the plan for each child is to use it as a means of what they are interested in and wanting to work towards, as well as input from parents. Therefore we ask the children and parent to contribute.

 

Unfortunately we only have a meeting once a half term. We are always talking though.

 

In terms of their development, the next step is suited to them, therefore not an even curve, more of where they are and where to go next. Some next steps link, others do not. (Not sure I'm explaining myself well here!) :blink:

 

With so many children to constantly writing next steps with each observation would mean we would have many unmanageable next steps. By having a next step in each area we can ensure provision meets this, children often work together on a next step. We ensure variety and consistency. We do review through the half term to ensure its still appropriate.

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Guest griffclan

Finleysmaid, I completely agree it feels like an awful lot and not at all managable.When I raised my concerns with our LEA advisor she suggested that we just do 2 quality obs max a week for a full time child generating 2 next steps. We have tried it this last term and surprise surprise we couldn't cope . Towards the end of the term we changed it to a fortnightly cycle rather than weekly and that was much more manageable. We don't have 60 children and most KP only have between 7 and 10 children I don't know how you'd do it with so many children . I was just curious to see if any other LEA advisors were suggesting this. Not sure what we will do next, I have a meeting with staff next week to review planning/obs...no doubt we will be tweaking it again

Finleysmaid. when you set next steps fortnightly at your meeting is this for all your children or just some each time? How do you ensure that over time you plan for each child across the 7 areas based on their needs/interests? I ask because this is a problem I think we will hit with our LEA's suggested way of doing things. I hear what you're saying about children possibly having greater needs in one area and so you concentrate on that but I thought we had to show planning across all 7 areas for individuals, or have I got the wrong idea here??

Skippy I like the idea of individual plan every half term, we used to do somehing very similar. Can I ask when you say you review it during the half term, how does that work? Would you every few weeks take a look at obs and if a next step is 'achieved' mark it as such, would you then a that point add a new next step for that area or just leave it for next half term and concentrate on other areas of learning?

Sorry to ask so many questions but once you start thinking about planning ........ I long for the day when it all becomes clear!!

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I'm so glad that i've been in this game for so long most of my advisors have stopped giving me advice!! xD

ok i'll try to explain what i do

Obs taken daily (have tried to make these more WOW and less URGG!)

These are used in two ways.....fed into learning stories to tell us where the children are (LS based on DM's ) put in at least once a half term! (assessment!)

and one is used for a next step. These are set fortnightly for every child.

 

Next step sheet is collated by me at staff meeting it tells me where each child is now...where i want them to be....how i'm going to get them there...how to do this with their interests.

The environment plans (inside and out) are then written daily (by everyone or anyone) this will incorporate the areas from the next steps....and will follow the childrens interests of the moment.

Cycle starts again 2 weeks later (and previous next step evaluated....)

So no i guess i dont plan for each area of learning...i plan for the children. They will learn what they want to where they want to ....this is the frightening and fabulous part of working with EYFS! :blink:

I have CP plans for all the areas of the classroom ....but i don't really use them! ;)

This method works for us ...but we have a very diverse group with children from 2 and a half to 5 in one large hall. They have access to all the resources all the time and we operate free flow.

Whatever we do has to work for everyone and i guess it should be results driven not process driven!

I probably should do more planning (like planning which book to read or which songs to sing) but i'm afraid i go with the flow.Otherwise i just find myself planning for plannings sake and ignore what i have written! :bananas:

I understand your concerns about planning for all the areas....but who are we to tell a young mind to learn maths at the maths table or growth in the garden? It might happen like that but most of the time i find it doesn't ;)xD if i have a focus for that child for the fortnight i can weave it in to any play that we are engaged in.

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The intention for the plan for each child is to use it as a means of what they are interested in and wanting to work towards, as well as input from parents. Therefore we ask the children and parent to contribute.

 

Unfortunately we only have a meeting once a half term. We are always talking though.

 

In terms of their development, the next step is suited to them, therefore not an even curve, more of where they are and where to go next. Some next steps link, others do not. (Not sure I'm explaining myself well here!) :blink:

 

 

Skippy it sound like you've thought this all through...so maybe it's time to just tell the staff they'll have to get on with it! B)

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Well I think I have been in this job far to long!

 

Our planning is now down to a minimum..... sometimes I wake up in the night and panic osfted will come and find fault left/right/centre.... however I usually find a cup of tea, a late night film or a re-run with subtiltles calms my nerves a treat :1b

 

We check each term that children are within correct bands, children needing extra support are completed half-termly.

 

We work as a team, but all staff are resposible for next steps, these are oftern very small, and could change almost daily.. ...and we certainly do not document**** each and every one :D Why would you? Just why? As long as they are progressing I really cannot see the point.

 

** intials on daily enhancement planning is the evidence of individual planning.

 

We have an all team meeting every two weeks- this ensures all children are covered, and if we need to put extra 'work' [for want of a better word] for certain children this is discussed and planned for.

 

Learning journeys are ongoing and children help.

 

The way I see it is - the children are happy, the parents are happy. We do not advertise- we are full and have a waiting list.

We must be doing something right.

 

NOTE- I say this a a pre-school, and not a maintainded setting. Until we are paid accordingly - our planning and paperwork will reflect this.

 

x

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Good for you louby loo, we are trying desperately to reduce paperwork but currently we track once a term where children are at, plan next steps from this but also from daily obs on post its that go in LJ's. The LJ's are a joint effort between staff and children. Any requests/next steps go onto next weeks planning and that is it!!

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