Do Schools Listen to YOU?

We have been working with schools a lot recently (mostly because of this product) and the question I wanted to get an answer to above all else was:

“Nurseries spend a lot of time on each child’s learning journey and report, yet they feel like the reception teacher doesn’t always read them, why is this?”

I asked quite a few reception teachers, and I went in with a the idea that somehow schools were letting Early Years practitioners down by not using the information we provide.  I came out with a very different view, and here is why…

These were the answers that I was given by the reception teachers:

  • Learning Journeys in full for the child are very long, and I have 30 children starting in my class in September – I can’t possibly get through all the information!
  • Some children haven’t been to nursery, so I don’t have all the information.  This means it is easier to start each child from scatch and do my own assessments than piece it all together.
  • We have children arriving from over 10 different settings, each one of these has their own interpretation of development matters statements and therefore the children are often different despite being judged the same.

While I was talking to the reception teachers, I realised just how difficult it must be to assimilate the volume of information needed when it all comes from different places. Not to mention the intricate knowledge of each setting that would be required to compare children arriving from different settings.

We have recently been working with settings who have found that the incredibly granular tracking of children allowed by technology, has caused them problems when children switch rooms.  Some settings are seeing children make little or no progress (or even regress) simply because staff aren’t looking for same thing when it comes to marking children as emerging or secure in any given statement.  Getting this right requires moderation, and is difficult to achieve within a single setting, let alone across the many settings that will feed into a reception class.

So, the lack of moderation in Early Years is leaving us in a difficult spot when it comes to judging where children are developmentally against an absolute scale.  And I have to agree with schools when you consider their time may be more valuable assessing the children themselves rather than trying to reverse engineer the ‘correct’ data – maybe we should just give up with observations and learning journeys completely and let schools sort it out for themselves?

The answer to that is complicated, and probably needs another blog post all of its own, but we can summarise it like this:

Anything we do in Early Years is to help the children; without observations we can’t make informed plans; and without informed plans, the children can’t make effective progress.  So… Yes, we absolutely should be doing assessment, even if we don’t pass it on to schools.

About the author: Matt Stanford

Matt Stanford
Matt has been working in education for 10 years, teaching science to all ages from preschool to degree. Before he became a teacher he studied chemistry at Masters level and completed his PhD at The University of Warwick. It was during his time at university that he got involved in outreach work in local primary schools and found his passion for inspiring learning.

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