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Quality of observations


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Do any of you have any magical tips for getting staff to write 'quality' observations?

Ofsted have picked up on one member of staff's learning journeys twice now and this time I am going to get a recommendation or action... just waiting for the report. During the last year I have offered lots of support, training etc, but she just isn't improving. As I pointed out to Ofsted, it was only one member and all the others were really strong, but her response was to get an Outstanding it says ALL practitioners.......

Any ideas would be greatly appreciated.

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Hi Devonmaid

To me, a quality observation is one that is a systematic assessment of a child's knowledge and/or development in a specific area or areas of their learning and development, which is then assessed and used to inform planning so a child is supported in their next steps.

An inferior observation is one that is woolly, not detailed and I am left thinking, have I actually gleaned any information? How has that observation informed me and given me a clear picture about that particular child and what have I learnt about them that is pertinent?

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This is such an interesting topic. Some would suggest that an observation must not include assessment, but is a description of what you have seen the child do, and what they have said. Then comes the assessment. I wonder if you could work on the first one with your member of staff, and get that part right- ie not waffly, but a succinct piece about what children have done/said. Then help her to match what she has seen with, for example, the development matters statements, and use this as your assessment. Maybe combining the observation and assessment is what she is finding tricky?

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Maybe I'm wrong ( shall go and read up later) but I thought that actually 'doing' learning journals is not a legal requirement- but we do have to have a form of tracking in place?

Obviously you need to support staff to do correct observations etc- but I'm not sure about whether or not you should get an 'action' from Ofsted for it, unless it is your only formal tracking.

We use both LJ and PRAMs to track.

(I'm going into slight panic mode again now :blink: )

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I'm not sure whether we are getting an action or recommendation until I get the report. I think her way around it is going to say we need more Adult Led activities with a focus (even though we had loads of AL activities on the planning). She tracked two children during the day, and then looked at their LJ's. She then picked up on that practitioner's observations as not being up to speed, so asked to do a joint observation on her! (No pressure there) She then fed back that in order to support her, I should lead an activity each day with specific learning intentions for her to get to grips with so she would be able to write better observations.

No, LJ's are not mandatory but you have to show how you come to your judgements about children, ages/stages of development etc and produce evidence.

In my opinion, it just depends who you get on the day.

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I think her suggestion of how to support your member of staff is a good one- don't you? If she understands what learning to look out for, (eg your specific learning intentions) she may be more focused perhaps with her observations and write only relevant information.

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