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are we doing too many observations


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Hi can any one out there answer my question please. in my nursery we spend more time doing paper work - Manly planning, observation and assessments than spending time with the children. some of us have 20 key children and have to do 6 spontaneous and 1 focussed observation a month on each child plus a sounds and letters observation ,ECAT summative reports is this to much also need new planning and observation forms if any one has any to share would be very great full.

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I am in Reception. We do spontaneous written obs as and when we see new learning, 2-3 focus (longer) obs per term (during focus week), a phonics assessment once per term and a summative report once per term. I have 20 key children and my TA has 10.

 

This year, I have made a conscious effort to spend the majority of the school day interacting with the children.

 

I don't have observation forms. We write on plain paper or stickers and stick into the child's learning journal.

 

Here's an excerpt from the EYFS framework: 2.2 Assessment should not entail prolonged breaks from interaction with children, nor require excessive paperwork. Paperwork should be limited to that which is absolutely necessary to promote children’s successful learning and development.

 

 

You are probably doing too many observations if you are spending less 'quality' time with the children, especially in Nursery when children generally require lots of attention and care.

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I would say you are doing more than you need. We only record significant learning as an observation, the rest is recorded by anotated photographs in their file. So 'Johnny had huge fun with the blocks to day, he made a tower bigger than himself and counted that there were six pink blocks and two blue ones left' alongside a picture. If we feel it covers a stepping stone, we jot that down, and if there's an obvious next step, we note that too. In my opinion, long focussed obserations rarely tell a good key person anything new about a child that they don't already know, so we don't do those any more. We don't do paperwork just for the sake of it. (Thank goodness!)

The ECAT summative sheets are done once a term, as you say you do too

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i'm nursery - school one - too. we have 13 each as mornings only. we do 1 focus child a week from each of 3 groups so only have 1 a term. we are like millhill and do spontaneous as and when, roughly 2 a week to ensure enough in folders. and adult activities are written on post-its and put in too along with photo, if appropriate. i am conscious parents will look at them and they are a record of achievement too for us, so put in more than strictly necessary. my early years educators get paid 30 minutes after end of session so this helps. we all do bits at home - that's early years for you!! and when our outside opens most go out so we can stick a few bits in each day then if we are inside!! children love to watch/chat as we do this and look at their folder too, and of course you're modelling writing too at same time - bonus!! writing next steps is time consuming, but getting quicker as we become familiar with new statements and good way of forcing us all to keep up to date and look to next band so children are stretched!!!!!!

have attached our observation sheet which i pinched from someone on here and adapted for our setting xobservation form.docx

 

 

observation form.docx

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The only time we do long observations these days at my pre-school is when we have new children, just to get a flavour of what they know, are interested in, fascinations etc. helps out with the 2 year check when we are gathering info as quickly as we can really.

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We no longer do long observations either, so just snapshot obs as and when we see something worth recording, so one child might have 10 in a week and another none at all, it just depends! We update children's folders at least half termly to be sure we're up to date with where each child is, and write parent reviews each term.

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We do long obs on each child at the beginning of the year (am in reception) to build a picture of each child. We are continually noting new learning on labels for learning journeys but we have made the conscious effort this year to spend our time playing with the children not doing focused observations. We were finding that we were focusing in on one child and missing wonderful play going on around us that we could build on and extend but we couldnt because we we sitting back observing. We do long obs on children who we have concerns about but we spend free flow time with all adults playing with the children but always with a roll of labels with us to jot things down.

Deb

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Thanks for all your advice has been very helpful think we may need to spend more time with the children and cut down on the paper work

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some of us have 20 key children and have to do 6 spontaneous and 1 focussed observation a month on each child plus a sounds and letters observation ,ECAT summative reports

 

I think the concept of having to do 6 spontaneous obs is a bit contradictory!!! You'll only get spontaneous obs when the child does something new that you judge worth recording. They may not do that 6 times in a month!!

 

I do like narrative obs as it is a chance to capture the language the child uses. Having started moderation for this year teachers are finding they need more language sampling to analyse the child's expressive language and receptive language for the 3 C+L ELGs. If they only have statements from the child about their knowledge, e.g. "It's a worm", they are not all that clear on how the child connects ideas, uses past and future tenses etc.

our minimum recommendation was 1 per term but you might do more if you needed.

 

Cx

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That's a good point, Catma. It's important not to metaphorically throw the baby out with the bath water as regards scrapping long obs. I do record a lot of narrative, but actually, now I think about it, this tends to be reflective narrative - when they are looking back through their files, or explanatory narrative whilst they are painting, and not a lot else. I must remember to capture more thinking narrative! Thank you for the timely reminder!

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Because I work in a large FSU and I may not see some of my kids during CIL I've always liked having as many observations as possible, so I can keep a handle as to what they are up to.

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  • 5 months later...

I think the concept of having to do 6 spontaneous obs is a bit contradictory!!! You'll only get spontaneous obs when the child does something new that you judge worth recording. They may not do that 6 times in a month!!

 

I do like narrative obs as it is a chance to capture the language the child uses. Having started moderation for this year teachers are finding they need more language sampling to analyse the child's expressive language and receptive language for the 3 C+L ELGs. If they only have statements from the child about their knowledge, e.g. "It's a worm", they are not all that clear on how the child connects ideas, uses past and future tenses etc.

our minimum recommendation was 1 per term but you might do more if you needed.

 

Cx

Catma, when you say 1 per term, is that a 3 term year or a 6 term year? (3 or 6 a year?)

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We gave a minimum of 3 a year, i.e. 1 per term as a long detailed observation (bearing in mind that this is in classes of 30 as well, so that could take up quite a chunk of time overall - around 10 hours if you work on 20 mins per child), but always said that for some children you might need to use long observation techniques and promoted different ways such as an observation every 10mins for a session to see how the child operates for example.

Cx

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