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Foundation Stage Profile Moderation


Guest Candy
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I am an associate adviser in West Sussex and am currently carrying out Foundation Stage Profile Moderation visits. Because West Sussex did not moderate it's Baseline this whole practice has been something fairly new and practitioners have been understandably a bit anxious.

 

The Early Years team that I work with decided that under the circumstances the most productive use of our time in schools would be to use the moderation as a tool to raise practice, not only in the consistency of judgements but also ensuring the judgements are collected in an appropriate learning environment.

 

The system is running well, and I believe that in most cases practitioner do find the process supportive. I am happy to share the process that West Sussex has developed, but I was wondering now that I've had a chance to lift my nose from the grind stone, what are other LEAs were doing?

 

Has anyone been moderated?

Is anyone a moderator in another LEA?

 

Care to share?

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Hi Candy,

I was an associate advisor for East Sussex last year, and was a member of the moderating team. As it was a very muddled start to the profiles, and some teachers had only received a month or so prior to our visits, it was fairly low-key. We too were asked to note down effective practitioners, and examples of best practice regarding the observation process and recording of the children's achievements. In terms of the profile, we looked at three children over a range of ability (already chosen by the teacher before my visit). I then had an hour in the classroom to look at the teacher's observation notes, the children's work, and to talk to each child to see if my judgements matched up. We were only looking at Maths and Physical Development, and this was on occasion slightly tricky; if the class were doing a language-type activity, I still had to find out how much the child understood about the Maths curriculum!! My questions were contrived to say the least :o

Are you carrying out the moderating throughout the year rather than at the end of the FS?

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Thanks Helen,

 

It was really useful to hear how you did it across the border. In answer to your question yes, we are moderating every term. We chose to do this to get across the message of how important it was to regard information from previous settings. A lot of our pre-schools and nurseries are working so hard and sending up accurate information which is being ignored by a significant few schools. The other point we wanted to make was that the Profile should be an ongoing record started when the children first come into Reception, and not a one-off test at the end of the year.

 

As for actually talking to the children and matching up our observations and the one's of each practitioner. We tried to steer away from doing this for some of the reasons you mentioned. I know myself how some children can react when asked questions by a relative stranger; even when we try to be as relaxed as possible.

 

Basically in West Sussex we are asking practitioners to "talk us through" the process they use to come to their judgements, ensuring that it is an observation based model and that observations are balanced between focussed and self-initiated learning and across the whole learning environment both indoors and out.

 

We also try to ensure that practitioners have systems in place to encourage cross-curricular learning, to ensure accuracy in their judgements, and that they are using information from parents, and like I said before previous practitioners. The one thing that we are aware that we need to develop however is a system that encourages accurate judgements by, for want of a better word, "levelling" observations. A lot of things are in the pipeline, but nothing in practice yet.

 

Are you doing anything with the data that the Profile generates? I am keen to make sure in my county that it is not used inappropriately, but there is a lot of pressure and anxiety from headteachers that it could be used for value added (despite the information that came from QCA last term).

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Hi Candy,

As far as I know, nothing is being done with the data collected, but I only took on the contract for 12 months, and am no longer in that team (I'm here instead! :o )

I know exactly what you mean about the anxiety regarding value added....that came up a lot in my interviews with all the Heads.

I still think many practitioners would welcome training on observations and assessments; it isn't really an exact science is it? I've just read Vicky Hutchin's new book on observing and assessing for the FSP; excellent book....have you come across it?

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funnily enough Helen, I have come across the Vicky Hutchins book. I found out about it looking around your site, and I agree it is excellent. When I read it I thought "At last someone who workd with young children is writing about effective assessment". My only trouble now is that having finished the book I can't keep ahold of it any longer--all my colleagues keep swiping it!

 

I also agree that people understand the purpose and need for observation based record keeping within the Foundation Stage but would like advice on putting it into practice. It's a request that I get regularly from members on courses. Last year West Sussex introduced a standard record keeping system based on an observational model that can be used in schools and pre-schools alike. On that course we give some guidlines about observation techniques, from the practical (like dating and initialling) to some of the meatier issues (like including the context). The course and the record has been overall fairly well received, however there are a significant few settings who don't have a strong enough grounding in the purpose of observations to see it's relevance.

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You're absolutely right, there :) There is a danger, when first carrying out observations, that everything is written down, regardless of whether or not it is significant for that child. In my experience as an advisor, practitioners wanted to become more knowledgeable in

1) The stepping stones

2) Recording significant observations

3) Matching up 1) and 2)

In our setting, we put a copy of the stepping stones (1 or 2 aspects at a time) up on the walls, and change them weekly or fortnightly. This gives us the opportunity throughout the session to constantly refer to them, and keep them in mind when we are carrying out observations. Wonder how long it will be before we know them off by heart :o

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  • 3 weeks later...

Hi Mabel -

Just to quickly interrupt and welcome you into the forum! :D

 

I'll leave Helen and/or Candy to answer the question from their perspective, as I do no moderating whatsoever, so it's not surprising that I've not been trained...

 

Welcome again -

Steve.

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Hi Mabel,

Um....yes, training......well, not much :o It consisted of a couple of hours sitting around a conference table with all the other moderators, (all of whom were very experienced early years practitioners or Headteachers), discussing various aspects of how we were going to do it, the type of form we should design for completion at each school, how we were going to collect the evidence, etc etc. It was rudimentary to say the least!

After the moderation period, we were required to complete our own questionnaires which all went back to the LEA for collation. This included information on good practice seen, which schools we felt needed more help in implementing the profile, and so on.

Are you a moderator?

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Hi Mabel,

 

I think the whole idea of moderation is new to early years, so as a result, the training received between counties is fairly mixed. At the last Foundatin Stage Profile briefings laid on by QCA three LEAs spoke of and outlined how they were going to go about and do moderation, then as far as I am aware LEAs were left to organise themselves and come up with a system that met the needs of their LEA (so long as it fulfilled the criteria within the guidance material given at the briefing).

 

Training for moderators varies between LEAs. When I worked in Hampshire I was a Baseline moderator, and because moderation often happened by lead practitioners there was a clear programme of training that covered all sorts of issues ranging from visiting protocals to actually "What are we looking for?". Now that I am in West Sussex moderation happens in a much smaller group. At our team meetings we discussed how we were going to conduct moderation visits, any key issues which might arise (and how they should be dealt with), and the content of reports that result from a moderation. To make sure a consistent system was being delivered across the county, moderators also shadowed each other and reports were brought back to the team and checked for consistency and common trends.

 

Like I said earlier, every LEA is organising their moderation slightly differently, so I assume the training that the moderators receive will also differ depending on where you are from.

 

Hope this helps

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