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Foundation Stage Baseline Assessment


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It seems that more and more combined Ofsted inspections (in the PVI sector) are focussing heavily on studying assessment data of the Foundation Stage children, i.e. they aren't just looking at individual children's files to find out how their progress is being observed, assessed, documented and linked to planning but are also asking for "group data" - at what levels are the children when they come to you and at what level are they when they leave?

 

Do any of you carry out formal basline assessments at the beginning of the Foundation Stage? I'm aware that all maintained settings are required to do so but am I right in thinking that this practice is not so widespread in PVI settings?

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Do any of you carry out formal basline assessments at the beginning of the Foundation Stage? I'm aware that all maintained settings are required to do so but am I right in thinking that this practice is not so widespread in PVI settings?

 

This makes me feel somewhat uneasy! To carry out baseline assessment at the beginning of the Foundation Stage would seem like working from a 'tick list' of things the children need to achieve.

 

The whole issue of 'value add' which I guess comes down to Early Years from higher up the key stages is an inappropriate measure for the pre-school years - as far as I'm concerned, anyway. How do you measure the value add when a child comes in at three barely able to make eye contact with an adult compared to a child who comes in at two and a half who turns to the adult during a cooking activity and says "that says 100 - that's a really big number!".

 

And doesn't t seem a bit odd to group children together to talk about their progress after we spend so much of our time identifying children's individual needs in order to support their learning and development?

 

Unless of course its just me: I'd be interested if other pre-schools do baseline assessment, and what the benefits are to setting and children...

 

Maz

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I think it would be a pointless paperwork exercise! :o As long as we are observing, assessing and tracking development in individual children and moving them on in their learning, then that is as much as we should be doing. The majority of our time should be in ensuring that what we offer is interesting, varied, relevant and fun! As we all know, this is the way to ensure that the learning experiences the children are getting are of greatest value. xD

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We don't carry out a baseline assessment in our pre-school. I was under the impression it was only required in FS2 ie in Reception but I could be wrong!

 

We have initial child profiles completed by parents which contains some information about what they can do.

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We 'baseline' our children on nursery entry. That just means that we have extra time to settle them in and make observations of them, how they settle in, how they relate to others, do they join in with songs/rhymes etc. can they listen and do they enjoy stories, see to themselves in the toilet and all those basic little things. These go into their individual portfolios and in each Key-worker's assessment files. I just see it as keeping track of the individual children. I have always been used to tracking children's porgress, as when I worked for a different authority we had an assessment system for all settings tracking progress form nursery entry to the end of FS.

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I was at a meeting recently with other LAs and the issue of "on entry" data (for school settings) came up. We were all able to give examples of schools where Ofsted had practically demanded this type of data and wouldn't just accept the individual records. Heads are also after this because they have to make judgements for their SEF specifically about FS. It was a real concern to all of us. I had one setting where the inspector practically told the coordinator what she wanted to see and anything else wasn't acceptable to her. Hoever someone else had had the complete opposite where the records were judged fine so its a really inconsistent picture.

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Our 'baseline' is our first entry on each child's nursery profile - we use worcestershire's own which is based on the stepping stones.

The first entries are completed within the first 6 weeks. Children stay with us for 3 terms usually so there would normally be two more entries - 1 in the second term and 1 at the end of the year.

All baseline assessments are carried out by observation.

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Yes ridiculous for children who are not yet school age. I think this is more about OFSTED and management not understanding and needing statistics to look at, rather than understanding that children develop in fits and starts.

We did have to produce this so I put the children within their stepping stone bands for CLL Maths and PSE, and then just input them on Excel and it produced a very pretty graph. Next term I did it again and final term again, and they were very pretty indeed :o showed progress overall and kept them all quiet (SMT). Mind you what it really demonstrated was that children over a year make progress- I'm sure had they not been in Nursery they would still have made progress - what a silly excercise really but I learnt how to use excel- the pie charts were particulaly pretty. Trouble is though that they then told me that i had to improve on the previous years progress and didn't seem to understand that a different cohort of chidlren might not progress in the same way....!

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and the shades of yellow and overlapping age ranges in the EYFS have been devised to stop us doing exactly that I believe!! Which really leaves a lot of people struggling to meet many different expectations.

 

The EYFS seems particularly disingenuous when it comes to assessment tracking rather than individual record keeping - not much to say on the matter either way, just some vague reference on the CD rom to practitioners creating records.

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Oh thank you so much for all your replies so far! Catma, that's the experience that I had when Ofsted arrived - I almost felt as though they were asking for bar charts and graphs with the data for all the children displayed (!) and that's why I've asked the question.

 

I too feel very uneasy about the idea of assessing children against some kind of ticklist and need some "thinking time" to decide what to do about this issue. As some of you say, we all do it in a more informal way when a child starts with us anyway, but it's the "testing" aspect which feels so uncomfortable. Our authority has a baseline assessment for all the maintained settings but not for the PVIs.

 

Ofsted seem to be keen to look at the "value added" aspect of pre-school provision in a more formal, mathematical way - as you say, it feels as though it's something that's drifting dowm from the higher key stages.

 

Keep your comments and experiences coming......! And thank you!

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I work in an early years unit in a school and when we had our ofsted only 8 weeks ago the inspectors didnt want to see any portfolios of childrens work or observations ,

all they wanted were baseline scores and to see what level children entered the unit at. they the inspector said i want you to be able and have the evidence to say

eg 30% were below average,

45% were average and 25% were above .

His point being how can they say we are good if we dont show good progress. We got satisfactory because we didnt have the correct figures to show good progress.

We have now used the information from portfolios to fill in baselines for the children who started part time in jan. so now we can give averages.

I think this is appalling, saying children (and having to have figures to back it up) are below average at 3 years old . :o

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Marys i would be interested to know how you (or anyone else) comes to these conclusions? (average, below average, above average etc.) - does this have to be against national figures, and if so where do these come from? Am v.confused now.

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I work in an early years unit in a school and when we had our ofsted only 8 weeks ago the inspectors didnt want to see any portfolios of childrens work or observations ,

all they wanted were baseline scores and to see what level children entered the unit at. they the inspector said i want you to be able and have the evidence to say

eg 30% were below average,

45% were average and 25% were above .

His point being how can they say we are good if we dont show good progress. We got satisfactory because we didnt have the correct figures to show good progress.

We have now used the information from portfolios to fill in baselines for the children who started part time in jan. so now we can give averages.

I think this is appalling, saying children (and having to have figures to back it up) are below average at 3 years old . :o

And so all he really wanted to see was a lovely chart or graph. How would he know whether you were able to back these figures up if he didn't look at observations or portfolios? Or - heaven forfend - talk to your lovely children?

 

Or am I just being naive??

 

Maz

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HI we use pips durham data and use it to show a baseline and the progress they make by plotting on the brick wall graphs. At my old school we used pips in the nursery too, to show individual progress too.

l'm not sure how else to show whether we a good foundation stage or not other than fsp, individual assessments folders with next steps and class data for subject areas, ie phonics maths

 

i must admit l'm dreading our next ofsted- there just seems to be so much emphasis nowadays on paperwork and recording each step

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Marys, that was the experience that I had too! It's a very worrying development in my opinion. I wonder whether it's because the government is pumping so much money into different childcare initiatives, e.g. children's centres, and is now wanting evidence in the form of statistics to prove that their money is being well spent and is "making a difference"?

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when i spoke to the inspector , i said to him you are wanting us to provide something that is not compulsary and we dont agree with.

His point was he wanted us to give him evidence of a system, say like the achievement record the east riding use (this is available on this site).

If children were scoring only yellows they would be below average on entry. blues and some yellows would be average and scoring high on yellow ,blue and green would be above average.

when we have done this for jan starters , they have got a score depending on there attainment

we added up all the points they could potentially get before hitting the earlty learning goals.

you then get an average.

this goes against everything we know to be right ,but this is what ofsted wanted us to get them.

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We baseline all children on entry to nursery and at the end of nursery again on entry to reception and at the end of the foundation stage when this feeds into the FSP report (pre schools and DN in my area use the same system) We have been asked on both our OFSTEDs how we track children's progress in the FS, and I think on the SEF form it asks if we consider the children average or above or below average.

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