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Observations, assessments, tracking - expectations


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Hi all

Just after advice, information as I have a meeting soon and want to make sure I have my facts straight.

I am manager at a Pre-school with 12 key children of my own...quite a few children come one morning per week so its mad trying to do observations on those when it seems they all come in on the same day! There is myself and my deputy only as max of 13 chidren per day.

We do photo scrapbooks, post it obs, struggling to do anymore different types of ob as well as run the setting ie toileting etc etc (at registration OFSTED said she would want to see diff obs). Great for sharing scrapbooks with parents but take lots of time, I dont think they are a requirement and because of this I think I am going to be told to stop doing them by school .

Do we have to assess on every area/aspect, every term for every child? I could make professional judgments for this but would struggle to provide written even photo proof ( I know my children can do things without having to write it all down!) If we dont assess in every area/aspect for every child then how does tracking work? Do you just track for the 3 main areas? Saw an OFSTED report that said the setting was tracking for all 7 areas. I dont want to sit with a book on my knee scribbling in it all the time! Using the ECAT tool we can just highlight the statements and assess but this seems to be a no-no for Early Years Outcomes/Development Matters.

Trying to find a system that works, doesnt take hours of time, that fulfills expectations of staff, parents, OFSTED and school.

Would love to hear your thoughts!

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I don't think it's about recording observations all the time, but we are observing all the time. The trick is to decide:

  • Is this thing I am seeing or hearing now telling me something new?
  • What would be the best way to capture it?

Some things like outcomes can simply be photographed or writing can be just kept in the original, but it is the quality of the annotation that matters I think.

The educational programme for all children is clearly identified in the statutory framework and although for younger children your teaching will focus more on the Prime areas I don't personally think this means you don't capture anything to do with the specific areas.


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I agree with Catma. Anecdotal evidence and what you 'know' about a child is valid. You cannot assess and record everything for everyone all the time, although you probably are trying to do this! Do you know the age band most of your children are working at? Identify any areas for children outside that main range - areas of particular strength or difficulty , those areas for next steps.

Try focusing on one area of learning at a time, eg physical development - choose a small group of children to observe on that occasion - choose an age band that you think children are at - do the children you are observing meet this, exceed this, need to work on something towards this? Record significant changes - what the child can do now that they could not do before. Try using simple coding to annotate work - I for independent work, AS - adult support etc. Repeat at intervals with a different area of learning, different groups of children.

Encourage parents to add to your observations - leave post it notes or sticky labels by the door and ask parents to note down something their child has done at home, things they are good at etc.

At least once a term, I try to also do a 5-10 minute observation on one child at a time - what does the child do, play with, say - record it all as it happens. Video clips can be quite useful for this and you can encourage other children to help you make short recordings!

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