Management

How should you approach assessments with the new EYFS?

October 14, 2021

Here are six tips to make it simple.

Here are six tips to make it simple.
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In a rush? Here’s the quick run-down.

  • In this story, Early Years teacher Adam Marycz offers his best advice on how you can approach summative assessments, now that we’re working with the new EYFS framework.
  • The new framework prompts a shift in how we think about children’s growth. But it’s important to remember that the way children grow and learn remains the same.
  • Many of the same old skills and strategies you’ve been using are still relevant, you might just have to tweak how you use them. Read on to find out how.

The transition we’re all currently experiencing is confusing and overwhelming sometimes. We knew this was coming, but a change of this magnitude means a lot of readjustments. I am sure you, like me, had plans for how the reforms would work in practice, only for the day to arrive and you realise it’s not as simple as you’d hoped. And one of those areas has been assessments and progress tracking.

So as we move away from tick-lists, how do we rethink the way we measure children’s growth?

During this piece I aim to use my experiences over 12+ years in Early Years, working as an educator, manager and Early Years Teacher to provide practical tools to help inform the assessments you make, and monitor the progress and development of your children. 

Below, we’ll look at the six methods I have built over the years to help build up the best possible holistic picture of a child. I hope these will mean that whatever progress monitoring process you develop in your setting, you feel confident you are being as thorough and accurate as possible.

Teammates on a meeting


What is a summative assessment?

‘Summative assessment’ describes assessments that practitioners complete for children at certain developmental stages throughout the Early Years Foundation Stage. You’re likely familiar with summative assessments like the two-year check, or the reception baseline assessment and foundation stage profile. These give a holistic picture of a child’s knowledge and skills.

Pre-reception Early Years settings over the years have typically completed a baseline assessment when a child first joins, and a final summative assessment before a child leaves to join Reception. However, this has been considered good practice rather than being a statutory requirement. Whether summative assessments are completed in addition to the three statutory assessments depends on the preference of each individual setting, alongside other decisions such as how many documented observations are collected on each child and how often. 

Summative assessments are different from formative assessments, which are the regular, day-to-day assessments you use to inform your planning and provision.  


When else should you be monitoring progress and development? 

In a sentence, it’s up to you. Gone are the days where you are expected to complete multiple tick list style assessment documents or ‘tracking.’ If you’d like to know why, Famly has put together an excellent documentary, The EYFS Tracking Lie, to explain just that.

Now, each individual setting decides how and when children’s development and progress should be monitored. In my setting for example (which, for context, offers term-time Pre-School provision for children aged 2-5), we will be baselining children within their first half-term, then re-evaluating more formally half way through the academic year and again at the end. 

During the rest of the year, we’ll be observing children against the new Development Matters observation checkpoints. Down below, you’ll find my toolkit of how to make this monitoring as genuine, meaningful and representative as can be.

Persons pointing out a laptop


Six tricks to help you monitor children’s progress and development 

Regularly monitoring progress for each child across the seven areas of learning can seem daunting. It can be a challenge to feel confident that you have built up a broad and accurate picture of a child’s knowledge and skills. 


Here are six methods I use to make all that easier: 

  • 1 - Make sure you’ve got one-on-one interactions with every child. It might sound simple, but one of the most effective ways to get to know and understand your children is by interacting with them, whether it’s one-to-one or in group situations. It’s likely that during these interactions you will observe children displaying their wide range of skills and the depths of their knowledge. These interactions will feed directly into points 2, 3 and 4.

  • 2- Record your observations on a digital platform. Especially when you’re logging day-to-day observations, it’s more and more common to do so through a digital platform like Famly. These can make it easier to monitor progress and development by considering how your observations fit within guidance such as the new Development Matters checkpoints.

    In my own practice, I primarily use these observations as part of our planning process. But when you document assessments through a digital management system, it’s easier to refer to them when you’re working on those bigger, more formal assessments. With a system like Famly, for example, you’ll be able to pull up your observation logs and progress recordings quickly, which can help give you that big-picture understanding of where children are at in their document.
  • 3 - Know that learning is happening, even when you don’t document it. It’s important to remember that your documentation isn’t the full picture of a child’s learning — and that’s okay. Each day for children is full of learning moments. There are things you witness hundreds of times a day but do not document formally or informally. They can involve other educators, or simply be the children learning independently using the resources included within your provision. Remembering these moments can help relieve the pressure of thinking it’s only your own observations that paint the full picture of children’s growth.
  • 4 - Trust your knowledge as an educator. The new EYFS guidance encourages educators to use their own experience and instinct about what’s considered ‘typical’ child development. Don’t lose sight of just how much you know about children, and how they grow and learn.

    When you look at progress reports or digital, summarized reports on children’s progress, it can be easy to think that’s the be-all, end-all record of learning. And while these records are useful for reference and record-keeping, you also know that not every part of early childhood learning fits neatly in a box. It is therefore essential you see these documented observations as only one part of the assessment picture rather than the biggest piece in the jigsaw. 
  • 5 - Invite parents to share their knowledge, too. Depending on the type of provision you offer, certain observation checkpoints and developmental milestones can be hard to measure. For example, a frequent struggle of mine is observing a child’s ability to move up and down a set of stairs. For questions like these, it’s essential you communicate regularly with parents about their child’s development and use their input to inform your monitoring.

    These days, one big way of communicating with parents is through the messaging feature on your child care management platform. This offers a simple way to share text and photos back and forth, to give you a broader picture of children’s growth at home.

    This parental input is also particularly important when first baselining children when they join your setting. It can also be helpful, when children join the setting or transition between rooms, to give out ‘All about me’ sheets to gain information when the children first start. The sheets I use in my setting include questions about a child’s interests and personal information such as their food likes and dislikes and information about their family. You can find an example on my website, if you’re interested.

Person writing a to-do list

  • 6 - Try to share what you know with other professionals and settings. Children who attend your provision may have moved from other settings or may attend another provider alongside yours. For these children, it’s likely there will be other assessments, progress monitoring and reports from these settings. 
    There are many examples of different information which could be available to collect from other agencies / professionals. These include: 

    - Two-year check completed by the health visitor
    - Any progress monitoring completed by another Early Years setting 
    - Reports from health professionals such as speech and language therapists 
    - Social workers / family support workers 

    Collecting all this information is important if you believe a child could benefit from additional support from other agencies / professionals. You can also use this information as a supporting tool to assist the children to settle in, as well as helping to inform activity planning and any enhancements you can make to the provision based upon their interests and developmental milestones. 

    I acknowledge that accessing information held by others can be challenging. Contacting busy professionals is often the biggest barrier to effective information sharing. In my experience I have found that an initial phone call to introduce yourself and discuss the nature of your request followed by a follow-up email confirming arrangements made is the best approach. 

A teacher and a girl doing a high five


Some final thoughts...

It can be easy to become fixated on collecting documented evidence and using it as the most significant way of monitoring a child’s progress and development. I know I have been guilty previously of believing if there isn’t tangible evidence such as linked observations, then parents or carers or other professionals will not believe your assessments. 

However, I would argue that one of the most important changes in the new EYFS guidance is the importance that is placed upon the child development knowledge of educators, specifically a child’s key person. The key person knows the child best within your setting, with equal weight being placed on the knowledge of parents. That is why I believe, if you ask the right questions of parents, they too are able to play a pivotal role in understanding a child’s stage of development. 


Adam Marycz is an Early Years teacher, setting manager, freelance writer and contributor who holds BA (Hons) in Childhood and Youth Professional Studies and Early Years Teacher Status. He has worked for over 12 years in a variety of roles with children aged 0-5. You can connect with him on Instagram / Twitter through @adameyleader, or contact him at adameyleader@gmail.com .

Official Danish Government Reopening Advice

Guidance from the Danish Health Ministry, translated in full to English.

UK Nursery Covid-19 Response Group Recommendations

The full recommendations from a working group of over 70 nursery chains in the UK.

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Learn more about Famly

Find out below how Famly helped Tenderlinks in recording child development, and see what we can do for you in a personal demo.

“Famly’s strengthening our parent partnerships as staff can quickly note down meaningful observations and then come back to them later ensuring they can stay focused on the children." - Vicky-Leigh, Manager, Tenderlinks Nursery

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Learn more about Famly

Find out below how Famly helped Tenderlinks in recording child development, and see what we can do for you in a personal demo.

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How should you approach assessments with the new EYFS?

Here are six tips to make it simple.
How should you approach assessments with the new EYFS?
By
and
Adam MaryczManagement
October 13, 2021

In a rush? Here’s the quick run-down.

  • In this story, Early Years teacher Adam Marycz offers his best advice on how you can approach summative assessments, now that we’re working with the new EYFS framework.
  • The new framework prompts a shift in how we think about children’s growth. But it’s important to remember that the way children grow and learn remains the same.
  • Many of the same old skills and strategies you’ve been using are still relevant, you might just have to tweak how you use them. Read on to find out how.

The transition we’re all currently experiencing is confusing and overwhelming sometimes. We knew this was coming, but a change of this magnitude means a lot of readjustments. I am sure you, like me, had plans for how the reforms would work in practice, only for the day to arrive and you realise it’s not as simple as you’d hoped. And one of those areas has been assessments and progress tracking.

So as we move away from tick-lists, how do we rethink the way we measure children’s growth?

During this piece I aim to use my experiences over 12+ years in Early Years, working as an educator, manager and Early Years Teacher to provide practical tools to help inform the assessments you make, and monitor the progress and development of your children. 

Below, we’ll look at the six methods I have built over the years to help build up the best possible holistic picture of a child. I hope these will mean that whatever progress monitoring process you develop in your setting, you feel confident you are being as thorough and accurate as possible.

Teammates on a meeting


What is a summative assessment?

‘Summative assessment’ describes assessments that practitioners complete for children at certain developmental stages throughout the Early Years Foundation Stage. You’re likely familiar with summative assessments like the two-year check, or the reception baseline assessment and foundation stage profile. These give a holistic picture of a child’s knowledge and skills.

Pre-reception Early Years settings over the years have typically completed a baseline assessment when a child first joins, and a final summative assessment before a child leaves to join Reception. However, this has been considered good practice rather than being a statutory requirement. Whether summative assessments are completed in addition to the three statutory assessments depends on the preference of each individual setting, alongside other decisions such as how many documented observations are collected on each child and how often. 

Summative assessments are different from formative assessments, which are the regular, day-to-day assessments you use to inform your planning and provision.  


When else should you be monitoring progress and development? 

In a sentence, it’s up to you. Gone are the days where you are expected to complete multiple tick list style assessment documents or ‘tracking.’ If you’d like to know why, Famly has put together an excellent documentary, The EYFS Tracking Lie, to explain just that.

Now, each individual setting decides how and when children’s development and progress should be monitored. In my setting for example (which, for context, offers term-time Pre-School provision for children aged 2-5), we will be baselining children within their first half-term, then re-evaluating more formally half way through the academic year and again at the end. 

During the rest of the year, we’ll be observing children against the new Development Matters observation checkpoints. Down below, you’ll find my toolkit of how to make this monitoring as genuine, meaningful and representative as can be.

Persons pointing out a laptop


Six tricks to help you monitor children’s progress and development 

Regularly monitoring progress for each child across the seven areas of learning can seem daunting. It can be a challenge to feel confident that you have built up a broad and accurate picture of a child’s knowledge and skills. 


Here are six methods I use to make all that easier: 

  • 1 - Make sure you’ve got one-on-one interactions with every child. It might sound simple, but one of the most effective ways to get to know and understand your children is by interacting with them, whether it’s one-to-one or in group situations. It’s likely that during these interactions you will observe children displaying their wide range of skills and the depths of their knowledge. These interactions will feed directly into points 2, 3 and 4.

  • 2- Record your observations on a digital platform. Especially when you’re logging day-to-day observations, it’s more and more common to do so through a digital platform like Famly. These can make it easier to monitor progress and development by considering how your observations fit within guidance such as the new Development Matters checkpoints.

    In my own practice, I primarily use these observations as part of our planning process. But when you document assessments through a digital management system, it’s easier to refer to them when you’re working on those bigger, more formal assessments. With a system like Famly, for example, you’ll be able to pull up your observation logs and progress recordings quickly, which can help give you that big-picture understanding of where children are at in their document.
  • 3 - Know that learning is happening, even when you don’t document it. It’s important to remember that your documentation isn’t the full picture of a child’s learning — and that’s okay. Each day for children is full of learning moments. There are things you witness hundreds of times a day but do not document formally or informally. They can involve other educators, or simply be the children learning independently using the resources included within your provision. Remembering these moments can help relieve the pressure of thinking it’s only your own observations that paint the full picture of children’s growth.
  • 4 - Trust your knowledge as an educator. The new EYFS guidance encourages educators to use their own experience and instinct about what’s considered ‘typical’ child development. Don’t lose sight of just how much you know about children, and how they grow and learn.

    When you look at progress reports or digital, summarized reports on children’s progress, it can be easy to think that’s the be-all, end-all record of learning. And while these records are useful for reference and record-keeping, you also know that not every part of early childhood learning fits neatly in a box. It is therefore essential you see these documented observations as only one part of the assessment picture rather than the biggest piece in the jigsaw. 
  • 5 - Invite parents to share their knowledge, too. Depending on the type of provision you offer, certain observation checkpoints and developmental milestones can be hard to measure. For example, a frequent struggle of mine is observing a child’s ability to move up and down a set of stairs. For questions like these, it’s essential you communicate regularly with parents about their child’s development and use their input to inform your monitoring.

    These days, one big way of communicating with parents is through the messaging feature on your child care management platform. This offers a simple way to share text and photos back and forth, to give you a broader picture of children’s growth at home.

    This parental input is also particularly important when first baselining children when they join your setting. It can also be helpful, when children join the setting or transition between rooms, to give out ‘All about me’ sheets to gain information when the children first start. The sheets I use in my setting include questions about a child’s interests and personal information such as their food likes and dislikes and information about their family. You can find an example on my website, if you’re interested.

Person writing a to-do list

  • 6 - Try to share what you know with other professionals and settings. Children who attend your provision may have moved from other settings or may attend another provider alongside yours. For these children, it’s likely there will be other assessments, progress monitoring and reports from these settings. 
    There are many examples of different information which could be available to collect from other agencies / professionals. These include: 

    - Two-year check completed by the health visitor
    - Any progress monitoring completed by another Early Years setting 
    - Reports from health professionals such as speech and language therapists 
    - Social workers / family support workers 

    Collecting all this information is important if you believe a child could benefit from additional support from other agencies / professionals. You can also use this information as a supporting tool to assist the children to settle in, as well as helping to inform activity planning and any enhancements you can make to the provision based upon their interests and developmental milestones. 

    I acknowledge that accessing information held by others can be challenging. Contacting busy professionals is often the biggest barrier to effective information sharing. In my experience I have found that an initial phone call to introduce yourself and discuss the nature of your request followed by a follow-up email confirming arrangements made is the best approach. 

A teacher and a girl doing a high five


Some final thoughts...

It can be easy to become fixated on collecting documented evidence and using it as the most significant way of monitoring a child’s progress and development. I know I have been guilty previously of believing if there isn’t tangible evidence such as linked observations, then parents or carers or other professionals will not believe your assessments. 

However, I would argue that one of the most important changes in the new EYFS guidance is the importance that is placed upon the child development knowledge of educators, specifically a child’s key person. The key person knows the child best within your setting, with equal weight being placed on the knowledge of parents. That is why I believe, if you ask the right questions of parents, they too are able to play a pivotal role in understanding a child’s stage of development. 


Adam Marycz is an Early Years teacher, setting manager, freelance writer and contributor who holds BA (Hons) in Childhood and Youth Professional Studies and Early Years Teacher Status. He has worked for over 12 years in a variety of roles with children aged 0-5. You can connect with him on Instagram / Twitter through @adameyleader, or contact him at adameyleader@gmail.com .

Official Danish Government Reopening Advice

Guidance from the Danish Health Ministry, translated in full to English.

UK Nursery Covid-19 Response Group Recommendations

The full recommendations from a working group of over 70 nursery chains in the UK.

Learn more about Famly

Find out below how Famly helped Tenderlinks in recording child development, and see what we can do for you in a personal demo.

“Famly’s strengthening our parent partnerships as staff can quickly note down meaningful observations and then come back to them later ensuring they can stay focused on the children." - Vicky-Leigh, Manager, Tenderlinks Nursery








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