For a number of years, I have been perplexed by the amount of unnecessary paperwork that educators complete within their settings.
It’s important to remember what the EYFS states:
“Assessment should not entail prolonged breaks from interaction with children, nor require excessive paperwork. Paperwork should be limited to that which is absolutely necessary to promote children’s successful learning and development.” EYFS, 2014
On various social media platforms or when delivering training or speaking to clients, I hear comments such as:
“We were told to do this.”
“Ofsted want to see this.”
“The local authority advisor has given us a month to complete this.”
“A consultant/trainer suggested this was the best way.”
As a consultant/trainer, I see myself as an advisor, which means that it is only advice.
In addition, in some settings the system is so complicated that educators are unable to fully vocalise why they do what they do.
“Less paperwork = more time with the children!”
In my opinion, the most important aspects are identifying children’s starting points and robustly tracking their learning and development.
I’m not a fan of weekly themes or topics, which I have previously discussed. Neither do I promote short, medium or long-term planning.
“Stand aside for a while and leave room for learning, observe carefully what children do, and then, if you have understood well, teaching will be different from before.” Loris Malaguzzi
So, what is this simplified approach?
I’ve cut down the ‘all about me’ concept to one page and called it:
“My personal page”.
Plan as you go, no need for pages of perfectly typed weekly planning in advance.
One sheet per week is sufficient, reflecting on:
- Continuous provision
- Three characteristics of effective teaching and learning
- Child-inspired activities/experiences
- Educator-inspired activities/experiences
- Home/parent-inspired activities/experiences
- Significant moments
- Spontaneous activities/experiences
- Brief evaluation
Short observations on how children are learning and developing (of course, if need be the educator would do longer observations, for instance, if concerned about a child’s well-being or development).
Educator robustly assessing children’s achievements in their learning and development and critically thinking what children’s next steps are so that every child is making progress, irrespective of their age, stage or ability.
Key person (childminder if home based) personal tracking.
This is my take on cohort tracking. I feel that the key person should do this and not a senior member of staff. After all, the key person should know their key children. In addition, the senior staff should monitor the effectiveness of the systems. My view is that this should be done three times a year.
“Improve teaching through rigorous monitoring” Ofsted, 2016
To identify if the system does indeed work and that every child is making progress, I suggest moderation meetings, ideally after the key person has completed their tracking. Ensure staff come together to share their key children’s development and tracking, giving staff the opportunity to professionally critique each other and ask reflective questions. This will help to ascertain if every child’s development has been recorded honestly and effectively. Also, as a setting, how are they going to support children who are not progressing and how do they support the most able children?
Brief and quarterly reports should be shared with parents. Not losing the human touch, daily verbal feedback should still continue even if your setting uses an electronic system.
Of course, as with any approach, this only works in practice if educators have a sound understanding of child development and know their key children well.
Working with children is emotionally and physically draining, the less time spent on unnecessary paperwork the better!
If you would like to use any of the above concepts and terms, please feel free and acknowledge Laura Henry Consultancy as the source.
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