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On Thursday night I attended Hampshire Governor training on Governor Training on Early Years Foundation Stage Curriculum led by Luciana Lattanzi – Early Years Advisor (West) – also Proforma Moderation Manager for HCC.

Writing Targets

Personal opinion is that the writing targets are not overly ambitious – they are what a 5 year old should be able to do!  Revised KS1/KS2 curriculum should have been launched at the same time as the EYFS curriculum but them being out of sync has made this more challenging.

Moderation agreement info re: writing should be in the summer term Year R briefings.

EYFS Policy and Documents

Revised Early Years Foundation Stage September 2012: Statutory Framework for the Early Years Foundation Stage – the statutory document is much more slimmed down.  But Early Education were requested to develop Development Matters which is a non-statutory guide.  Following this Early Years Outcomes published in September 2013 which is purely one column from Development Matters

The new EYFS is much simpler, clearer, and leads to less paperwork.  Focuses more on learning and development: split communication (3 prime areas) from literacy (4 specific areas).  Reduces the number of early learning goals from 69 to 17:

  • Mandatory progress check aged 2 in a setting, sits alongside health check, and by 2015 these will be merged!
  • Simplifies assessment at age 5 – removes the 117 point scale, best fit judgement
  • Stronger focus on working with and supporting parents
  • Welfare requirements

Kept the original four themes:

A unique child + Positive relationship + Enabling environments = Learning and development

A number of musts still in the statutory guidance, not changing but reinforcing the good elements of practice:

  • Practitioners must reflect on the different ways that children learn and reflect these in their practice (1.0)
  • Practitioners must consider the individual needs, interested and stage of development of each child in their care (1.7)

Enabling environments

The environment is very important.  A lot of research on children needing the opportunity to have natural materials around them – so instead of buying lots of plastic boxes and objects using acorns etc.  The sensitivity of children’s fingertips isn’t as good as it was due to touching hard plastic too much – which then effects handwriting.  Moving to more natural subdued colours and materials.

Really important within an Early Years environment that the children can access the resources through the order.  How do we enable them to use real adult products, e.g. crockery cups instead of plastic cups where they know they aren’t real and won’t break so they then throw them around.  We need to allow children to encounter risk to learn to manage risk.  The majority of children can self-select provided they are given the opportunity to manage risk.  Hazards are still a no – risks are a yes.

Greater expectations, e.g. numbers to 10 is now numbers to 20 – but the calculation parts of number is still single digits.  Using more recent research on what average 5 year olds can actually do.

What are the subtle differences between pre-school and Year R environments.

Balance of the Seven Areas

Birth to age 3 focuses on the Prime Areas and then moves onto the Specific Areas implemented through planned, purposeful play and through a mix of adult-led and child-initiated activity (1.9).

Adults formalise play and call them hobbies and call them leisure pursuits, instead of role playing we watch the soap or go to the theatre.  We think about it but don’t physically have to do it, children have to do it physically.

What can Governors do?

  • Do you have Early Years subject leaders?
  • Reflect about Early Years in the finance meeting – ensuring that you create budget for staff to visit pre-schools for transition
  • Engaging with families and parents
  • Meet Year R parents the summer before they start
  • Survey of parents asking about transition experience
  • Invite the Early Years lead to come and speak to Curriculum Committee in the same way as the Literacy and Maths subject leaders do
  • Supported and resourced a parenting course free of charge for a parenting course, including a free creche, seeing an impact with not just the children but also develop better relationships with parents.
  • ECar scheme, expensive but makes an impact.
  • Nurture room using Governor expertise to support funding
  • Breakfast Club to improve attendance

Planning for play and playful learning

The end of reception judgements have to come predominantly from child-led initiatives, what they do for themselves.

“There is an ongoing judgement to be made by practitioners about the balance between activities led by children, and activities led or guided by adults.  Practitioners met respond to each child’s emerging needs.”

Strong Partnership with Parents

Other carers, relatives and childminders should feel able to be involved in the school, and should be involved in holistically making the judgements on the child.

Parents can put things on online for the school to access and link with home.  For example using Magic Moments at Romsey Abbey Primary to send a photo to parents to show how children are playing.  

Children learn and develop well in enabling environments, in which their experiences respond to their individual needs and there is a strong partnership between practitioners and parents.

Tracking progress in Year R

Must track progress against age/stage bands.  Focussed on initial on entry data – a judgement made of where each pupil is by half-term, but the assessment shouldn’t happen until the child feels settled.  Periodic judgement data using ongoing formative assessments leading to a review of Early Learning Goals in the June Summative Assessment.

The new assessment process has confused some schools leading to many cautiously assessing children to age 3 when they are probably beyond that, but equally some nurseries and pre-schools are assessing overly optimistically.

How the formative assessment is completed is for each school to decide for themselves.  

Observations

  • Should not entail prolonged breaks from interaction with children, nor require excessive paperwork.
  • Are what you see and hear, based on what the child says, does or pro dues.
  • Rely on good key-person practice and on people taking responsibility.
  • Are used as evidence and analysed to make assessments.

Evidence needed for assessment

  • Predominantly from child-initiated opportunities
  • Significant steps, ‘wow/gosh’ moments, ‘one off observations
  • Samples of children’s workPhotographs
  • Contributions from parents
  • Annotated planning

Paperwork should be limited to that which is absolutely necessary (2.2)

Making Judgments: Best-fit

When making a decision practitioners must

  • Consider the entirety of the Age Stage band descriptor/ELG
  • Create the most accurate ‘Best-fit’ picture – holistic view of the whole descriptor
  • Sections of the descriptor are not to be seen in isolation
  • Must compare to an earlier or later age/stage band.

Now not focussed on can they do it all, but which description do they best predominantly fit into.  You must compare with the different levels to then decide which goal best fits.

Making judgement

  • Review knowledge of each child from all sources: collected observations; annotated planning; professional dialogue between practitioners.
  • Responsibility of the practitioner to use their professional judgment to decide levels of development.

EYFS Profile

Purpose: Inform parents about their child’s development against the ELGs and the characteristics of effective learning; to support smooth transition to Key Stage 1 by informing the professional dialogue between the Foundation Stage and KS1 teachers.

EYFS Profile Data – New Measures

Good Level of Development (GLD)

Attaining expected or exceeding levels in all 3 primer areas of learning and development and in literacy and maths from the specific areas, a total of 12 ELGs.

Average Point Score

The total number of points achieved across all 17 ELGs.  Maximum is 51 points (17 x 3) and minimum is 17 pmts (17 x 1).  The national measure will be the average of all child’s scores.  Usually available in November, the first statistical release.

EYFSP Data 2013

Statutory duty for every parent to receive scores for each of the 17 ELGs and a commentary on the three characteristics of effective learning and for the schools to provide an opportunity for a parent to discuss that with the school.  

What can Governors do?

What data do you receive for Early Years?  Potentially view summer birthdays at a vulnerable group – in one school led to an additional LSA in that class.

Ofsted – latest documents

No standardised models of assessment or on how typical progress is expected.  Cf. The Framework for School Inspection (Jan 2014): explains the principles, process and focus of inspections; School Inspection Handbook (Jan 2014): provides guidance for inspectors conduction inspections including how judgements are made and grade descriptors; Subsidiary Guidance (Jan 2014): additional guidance for inspectors.

Achieving the ELGs can be good or poor progress – it is always about the next steps for their child – there should be no ceiling put on their learning.  Debate over whether or not you label children as Gifted & Talented or does that label cause problems at a later stage if they naturally plateau later in KS1, so focus on “Must, Should, Could”.

Can discuss what we should expert from a cohort based on the evidence of the local pre-schools and nurseries, for Luciana’s team to help provide interventions.

Chris
cskidd1983@gmail.com
Married to the amazing Sarah and raising Jakey, Daniel, Amelia, Josh & Jonah in our blended family. Passionate for Jesus, social work & sport.

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