My previous placement in a nursery setting used observation as its prime method of assessing children’s knowledge, skills and understanding.
Moyles (2002, pg54) suggests observation includes listening to children as well as watching them, because listening (without joining in) offers practitioners access to investigating and understanding children’s concepts, learning and behaviour. . Observations of children are essential because each child has a unique set of abilities and talents and observations in different contexts capture these first hand.
Observing children’s interests, who they play with, what resources they enjoy playing with and decisions they make from choices provided enables adults to gain reliable information about children as individuals. The Observing What a Child is Learning approach in the Development Matters in the Early Years Foundation Stage (DfE, 2012) can support developing systematic observations, and there are a variety of pro-formas that practitioners can use to carry these out. However, in my previous placement the practitioners preferred to use snapshot observations, alongside annotated photographs to document each child’s learning. The Early Years Foundation Stage (2007) states ‘many practitioners use sticky notes to jot down brief observations and this is a practical way of recording information’, which perhaps is to reduce excessive paperwork and prolonged interactions away from the children. These observations formed part of the settings ongoing formative assessment and were recorded in each child’s Learning Journey.
There is no requirement to write a Learning Journey, although ‘there is a requirement to record observations and assessments and individual planning’ (Nevillle, 2012). Each observation was also used to highlight specific EYFS Development Matters statements met, in a table format (see appendix 1). Bruce (2011, pg207) believes a record keeping
References: Bruce, T. (2011) Early Childhood Education. 4th Edition. Oxon: Hodder Education Department for Education. (2007) Development Matters in the Early Years Foundation Stage. London: Early Education Department for Education. (2012) Development Matters in the Early Years Foundation Stage. London: Early Education Hutchin, V. (2003) Observing and assessing for the Foundation Stage Profile. Oxon: Hodder Murray Moyles J and Robinson, G. (2002) Beginning Teaching Beginning Learning in Primary Education. 2nd Edition. Berkshire: Open University Press Neville, S (2012). An Overview of the EYFS 2012 requirements for observations, assessment and planning. Available from: http://www.childmindinghelp.co.uk/freeresources/Free%20downloads/Resources/Overview%20of%20obs,%20assess%20%26%20plan.pdf [Accessed 06 April 2013]. Sharman, C, Cross, W and Vennis D. (2007) Observing Children and Young People. 4th Edition. London: Continuum International Publishing Group William, D and Black, P. (1998) Inside the Black Box. King’s College London School of Education