Last week had a bit of everything in it for me. I did some work in settings, writing and a conference delivery and the common thread to the whole week was making judgements about progress in Foundation Stage (amongst other things).
I started my week in The Friars Primary in Salford. The Friars is about 20 mins away from home so I have done a fair bit of work with them over the past couple of years. Pat (the Head) and the Early Years Team (Sarah and Emma) are also very accommodating and let me ‘try out’ lots of ideas an initiatives on them and their children.
At the moment the school have a vacancy for a Reception teacher (all details here) so I spent some time working on ideas for interview questions (always interesting). Then Emma, Sarah and I got down to the task of how we can illustrate children’s level of progress in EYFS as well as their levels of attainment.
Although this is the time of year when lots of Reception teachers go a bit ‘GLD’ crazy – it is important for us to be able to recognise and show how far children have come, even if they don’t reach the magic GLD status.
At the moment there is no single ‘recognised’ progress tracker. it is up to schools and settings to show their own method of judging progress. Having said that there are ‘things’ floating around that can be a really useful guide.
A couple of months ago I was having a progress discussion with an Ofsted inspector and he gave me a copy of a format that he had used as a guide for making judgements. He had picked it up from a school, but was not sure where the school had got it from.
Anyway, Sarah, Emma and I spent the best part of a day analysing their data. Looking at the progress of all children as well as specific groups. We were particularly interested in the progress of the ‘constant cohort’ (the children who had been to both Nursery and Reception) as they give a really good idea of the sort of progress that two years at The Friars could give you.
I have to stress that this is a GUIDE to measuring progress. There will be lots of other contextual information that you have about your children that might influence the outcomes, but we found it really useful. You can download a Word version here End of Year Progress Tracker
On Friday I was in Exeter delivering my conference ‘Excellence in Early Years‘. There were lots of lovely practitioners (as always) we laughed lots.I had a great time. I was talking about this very progress tracker and two ladies put their hands up and said ‘I am sure we made that’!
Never have I been more pleased that I am such an honest person and that I hadn’t said ‘look at this lovely progress tracker that I have invented’!
The ladies were from Bath and North East Somerset Council and they had created the tracker as part of their support to schools and settings. You can find their original document here along with all of the contextual info and lots of other really useful EYFS ‘stuff’. Thank you ladies!
In the middle of the week I took a trip to Bolton to work with the EYFS team at Devonshire Road Primary School. This was my third visit to the school in just over a year and Natalie and her team are doing some really great stuff. They have a two form entry Reception in a shared classroom space with a small but perfectly formed outdoor area.
I thought I would share some of the things they were getting up to as I know how much we all enjoy looking at other people’s spaces and practice.
The format of the day for this visit was that I did some sharing of practice and observing of provision in the morning, then feedback to SMT and EYC in the afternoon with a bit of action planning.
The children had been exploring pastels as well as talking about Spring. Some of the children decided to draw flowers with their pastels. The children’s work was displayed in vintage frames with the inspiration for their artwork attached to the wall in a vase next to them. The whole display was at child height and a really good example of when a ‘neutral’ background does not mean a dull display!
The team have worked a lot on skill development in all areas and the children now have free access to self select and mix their own paint. We had also talked about the fact that when you teach children a new skill or give them a new experience (like working with pastels) that should really become part of their Continuous Provision (within reason). So, the children here can now chose to use pastels to create their art given what they know about how to use them.
What you are looking at here is a ‘reading nook’ underneath a self service dough station. As part of our work together the team have trialled replacing a book ‘area’ with several ‘book nooks’ and also putting opportunities for reading into every area.
The children LOVED this reading space and were also very adept at making their own dough from scratch.
Inspired by a previous blog post, when I had talked about Clare, Sally and the team at Grove Street Primary, Wirral encouraging their children to make soup independently as part of their Continuous Provision. The children at Devonshire Road were showing their soup making prowess. This time I was treated to tomato and basil!
We have also discussed the phasing out of the ‘writing table’ in favour of opportunities to write in every other area of provision. This was working really well, particularly during Continuous Provision.
The team have enhanced the water tray provision with ‘potion’ making resources, as well as some prompts for writing. As we are in third term Reception now and the dexterity of the children has significantly improved the resources have been chosen to provide a higher level of challenge.
There was also lots of interest in the Construction Area around planning, drawing recording and labelling.
The environment also contains lots of explicit challenge and Natalie has just introduced the use of Challenge Books.
There was a sewing table for fine motor dexterity
and a workbench with hacksaws to get to grips with…
Usually you would just wear a glove on your ‘non tool’ hand so that you can have better control/feel of whichever tool you are using. There is such a thing as ‘over gloving’!
Talking tin challenges – this bread making was inspired by the story of The Little Red Hen
and phonics challenges
The outdoor area also had some explicit challenge as well as implicit challenge from the provision
Devonshire Road have done some great things with a pallet or two…
I also loved this natural weaving
and the idea of having a little bit of magic whenever you needed it!
Their role play is deconstructed and I saw a brilliant example of an adult facilitating effective play and then withdrawing to allow the children to enhance, change and explore.
Good work Mrs Ali!
It was a pleasure to see so many children displaying such a high level of independence and so engaged with their learning. Thanks for inviting me!