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How much is enough?


caffinefreak
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Hi everyone

We are currently overhauling our Learning Journeys, we are looking at how much evidence should be included, currently working on at least 2 observations per child per month (more if significant information) but how much are Ofsted looking for? Thanks in advance xx

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What do you mean by an observation? Are you writing long observations or short spontaneous little notes?

 

We do a mixture of both. A longer focused observation every 6-8 weeks then spontaneous observations on sticky labels as and when. I try to get 1 spontaneous observation for each session the child attends, but it only do them for wow moments

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Quality, not quantity! If what you capture in your Learning Journey informs you about the child........................and anyone else who looks at it gets a 'feel' for who this child is, then it's enough. If you're left thinking 'ok, but do I know where this child is, in respects of their learning?', then it isn't. No point in reams of the same stuff, aim for what you know, what you see and what YOU are learning about this child as an individual. And don't forget to add some simple fun things too. We discovered a fish eye lens on our camera, so we have some great photos of children in close up, real gargoyles :) we also discovered ( we've only had this camera for three years, so it takes time (!!) that we can take black and white photos, but leave in a bit of colour.............truly lovely, so we have a few photos like those going in the journeys too.

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I agree, what is the information you have telling you about the child, is anything missing, and is anything too much? Also remember that not everything has to be written down.

 

Try not to think of your observations being there just to please OFSTED (tricky I know), but you are observing, and keeping learning journals to help you understand the child, what they do and where you can support them to go next. If you can articulate this well to OFSTED, it doesn't really matter how much is actually written down.

In addition you will find that you naturally need more written evidence if you have a child with an additional need, for example if you need to provide evidence to a partner agency such as speech and language.

So there really isnt an answer to what is enough, but as you reflect on what you do now, are you happy with what it tells you? If not, then why not, if yes, then you probably dont need to change anything.

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Observations are ultimately there to support you in making summative judgements about progress. They support you in illustrating how you know the child is demonstrating embedded skills. You need to reflect on the breadth of the curriculum as well and ensure everyone knows what is being covered in the statutory educational programmes - not just what is contained in the non statutory guidance of stages of development. That way you will know what to capture and how you need to capture it. A well annotated photo or video clip could be better than a written proforma. It's also about capturing what was seen and heard to build a picture of skills over time. That way periodic summative judgements will be better evidenced.

Different children may need more observations - EAL children for example may need to be observed more frequently as they may not be saying what they know but showing what they know. A fixed amount of obs may tick the box to say they are observed but a lot of their learning would be missed.

You may need to use different techniques for different children - tracking a child across a morning for example to see where and what they do if you want to look at their engagement levels for example.

I think when settings create "rules" about how many obs then they start to tie themselves up in knots!! A wide body of knowledge, illustrated by some well observed actual events provide a secure basis for accurate assessment of progress.

Cx

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When settings create "rules" about how many obs then they start to tie themselves up in knots!! A wide body of knowledge, illustrated by some well observed actual events provide a secure basis for accurate assessment of progress.

Cx

I totally agree with this, and I can never understand the reasoning behind it

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We no longer do routinely long obs, my staff know there key child inside by just observing

We do long obs if we need evidence for Senco for example or tracker obs because of a highlighted problem

 

Our LJ contain photos short obs,plods, linking learning with CoEL and DMs also well being and involvement .

The children own their journals and often stick in the pictures along with stickers and drawing, mark making, they are such fun and they plot the progress and learning that the children gave made

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Hi, Larnilass, why do find it difficult? Through general observations you will know how your children learn best, and what their learning styles are. Is it the recording of this that you are finding hard?

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Can I just add that using Tapestry also gives a flavour of how much. One of my team found it really difficult coping with Tapestry because she was not able to record all the information she wanted too. We spent time looking at one of her "manual" learning journeys and spotted that she was writing too much, that because she knew the child she could talk through much of the detail she had written. She agreed that a photo and some notes with it gave as good a story as her pages and pages of notes. (which she had written incase her memory failed her).

When I was at college (sometime last century) I had to keep a portfolio of 100 obs to present, but this was as a student learning how to observe and I believe that once this skill is learned then it is a skill that comes into everyday use without having to write or record.

So how much is enough? it has to be enough to give the practitioner the opportunity to determine how to support that child's learning and development in the future. It does not have to be for Ofsted or even as proof to parents. So how much is enough is dependent on the practitioner.

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At a recent 'Learning Journey' session we came away thinking we do too much and none of the LJs are consistent, each KP has their own way of doing things.

It was suggested that we observe, plan, allow to learn then observe again in about 4-6 weeks time so that the ob has the chance of being valid and relevant rather than a repeat of what has gone before.

Each ob should be telling you, the parent and any other professional who needs to know, where the child is, where they need to be and how you'll help them get there.

Our staff argue that the parents like to have a book to leave with but its a lot of work and while its nice to leave with something, its better to leave with something that tells you about the actual journey the child has been on rather than mwerely a collection of paintings and photos with 'Jack liked painting' type comments.

Theres an acronym isnt there that can be given to observations? S M A R T - Specific Measurable Achievable Relevant Timed

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Thanks everyone, I think we are doing enough in our LJ's now but with reinspection looming I am worried that Ofsted wont think so as we were told when we got our inadequate that we did not have enough written evidence of the children's progression.

Ah well, they will see what they see and grade us accordingly, it can't be any worse than inadequate after all!

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Hi Suer,

Just interested to know how you 'link learning with COEL'. This is a real sticking point with me.

 

As already said they are linked to how the child is learning,we highlight them

Often highlight a few.

 

We use them to help plan , this can often be the tricky part for staff with less experience .

We also consider schematic behaviour when planning .

We all learn differently and children are no different it remains an important part of the EYFS

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