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Assessing PD on entry, ESP pencil grip.


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I've got a problem! In PD, with the increased emphasis of handwriting and correct letter formation in PD, and the beginning to use tripod grip in 22-36 months.......if the child is NOT beginning to use tripod grip on entry to nursery, we are assessing them as not in line with age related expectations in moving and handling, even though they are in line in the other aspects of PD. also at the end of 30-50, if they are not secure in copying some letters of their name and using a pencil with good control, as stated in 30-50, then we are assessing them as not at age related on entry into reception. Is this right?

Thanks for your reply too, Catma, from France! I struggle with the best fit approach for this one, because the two strands of PD are so different. Also a child might not be beginning to use a tripod grip on entry to nursery but we know there PD is pretty average. But we still assess them as not in line in PD because if we don't, and they enter reception not able to copy letters in their name and so are not in line, then it looks like they have gone backwards from in line to not in line. Help!!!!!

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It is a tricky one yes.

I'd still go by 'best fit' - the child you thought would be secure in 22-36 but simply hasn't demonstrated that they are beginning to use a tripod grip would still be secure if they were demonstrating most of the other criteria.

For the other age bands, I'd again be going on best fit. Many children in the nursery class I've just had could copy letters from their names, many could write their names independently, many were demonstrating a stable tripod grip, holding their pencil near the point, many were not, but the vast majority I judged to be secure in 30-50 with elements of 40-60. Some could copy/write letters but were still using three fingers and a thumb to hold their pencil. Does this mean they shouldn't be seen as secure in 30-50 because they aren't using two fingers and a thumb? I'm not saying I'm right by the way, just that I think it is easy to get bogged down in the detail of what each individual statement says, and lose sight of the bigger picture. I think the reason Ofsted are no longer going to support Development Matters is because there is still too much of a tendency for practitioners to be use the statements as a checklist of 'things' to be 'ticked off'. In my school I also suspect that profile results were lower than expected partly because of this tick list approach as opposed to best fit.

If anyone questions your judgements, just remind them of the statement that appears at the bottom of each page of Development Matters:

'Children develop at their own rates, and in their own ways. The development statements and their order should not be taken as necessary steps for individual children. They should not be used as checklists. The age/stage bands overlap because these are not fixed age boundaries but suggest a typical range of development.'

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It's this variation and individual approach to best fit that I find troublesome. If practitioners are able to give the best fit as secure, even though at the end of nursery the children are not secure with copying letters from their name but are ok with everything else, but another setting takes a different approach and feels that writing letters is important, starightaway there is a discrepancy of final judgement. In schools the on entry into nursery and reception is so scrutinised, we must get it right. For us, we have decided that if a child is not showing any signs of using a tripod grip on entry in to nursery, then we are assessing as not in line with expectations, as presumably the tripod grip IS in line with expectations. So we think this is quite a key DM. Have just recently re read Mary Sheridan's child development which also has the beginnings of tripod grip at this age.

Crikey, am driving myself mad!!!

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But it is the individual reporting and feedback on each child's fit within the band which is the important thing surely - 2 children can be in a band, just as 2 children can be at the ELG but have different strengths and areas of weakness within the descriptors. Being in the same band or ELG doesn't mean the same skill set.

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I was hoping you'd come along! I think I have been too harsh then, in my judgements, using the handwriting ones as a bit of a clincher. As there is no weighting to any of the DMs, as to which are more key than others, I will have to become more comfortable with your last point, ie that some children can be assessed as in line with expectations but in fact have differing abilities.

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I was hoping you'd come along! I think I have been too harsh then, in my judgements, using the handwriting ones as a bit of a clincher. As there is no weighting to any of the DMs, as to which are more key than others, I will have to become more comfortable with your last point, ie that some children can be assessed as in line with expectations but in fact have differing abilities.

Hi

I do empathise with all the points made but please let us keep in mind that we want children to be motivated and eager to make marks. Let's not go down the too formal too soon avenue. I am nervous when I read about expecting children to copy letters from their name (although it depends how it is done). Think about how many different materials and mediums are available to us- messy and in a builders tray or sand spring to mind. Children need to be able to make circular, horizontal, vertical, clockwise and anticlockwise movements in big sweeping movements pivoting from the shoulder before we should expect them to flex the wrist for the finer control required. Have you checked out abcdoes.typepad.com/ ?

T

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I certainly have! He has been to my setting, organised by me, to do training. I am not advocating doing anything more formal. Far from it. I am unsettled that the significance of the tripod grip in 22-36 and copying letters in 30-50 is a judgement that is left to best fit, so some settings will say they are in line if they can't do it and others will say the opposite. It makes borough wide analysis of the on- entry and exit data quite difficult.

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Children naturally start to copy letters as they begin to understand what writing is all about - I don't think development matters implies they are being made to copy to be demonstrating this skill, it is a natural stage of learning to write. They understand that writing is made up of different symbols and they start to experiment and use what they see around them, including their names. All my nursery children would quite happily copy their names for ages using their name cards without any adult telling them to do it for example!!

 

Cx

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I can only echo what Catma has said. All of the things I mentioned in my first comment happen as part of everyday continuous provision, along with all of the other aspects of physical development.

The inconsistencies in what 'best fit' looks like are best ironed out by moderating assessments not just between feeder settings and schools but between groups of schools and settings in localities. If this is happening then the data submitted to the LA will give a more accurate picture of children's attainment, but I personally think it's early days yet as there is still a way to go before there is a clear consensus as to what 'best fit' looks like for the various age bands in DM - and we may never find out if it disappears any time soon.

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I have to agree with catma, if my overall gut feeling that they were in age band regardless of whether they do or do not have a pencil grip, then they would be placed there, it is all about strengths , isn't it?

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