3.1 Observation, assessment and planning
This area features research and resources to support effective practice in understanding observation, assessment and planning across the Early Years Foundation Stage (EYFS).
Starting with the child
- Observe children to find out about their needs, what they are interested in and what they can do.
- Note children's responses in different situations.
- Analyse your observations and highlight children's achievements or their need for further support.
- Involve parents as part of the ongoing observation and assessment process.
- Planning can be for the long- or medium-term and can show how the principles of the Early Years Foundation Stage (EYFS) will be put into practice.
- Some planning will be short-term – for a week or a day and will show how you will support each child's learning and development.
- This planning always follows the same pattern – observe, analyse, and use what you have found out about the children in your group so that you plan for the next steps in their learning.
Assessments are the decisions you make using what you have observed about a child's development and/or learning. One type of assessment, often referred to as assessment for learning or formative assessment, is what you do every day when you observe children and note their interests or abilities.
Another type of assessment is used to give a summary of a child's achievements at a particular point in time so that their progress can be tracked. This is known as summative assessment. The EYFS Profile is a summative assessment of each child's achievement at the end of the EYFS.
You may be involved in contributing to the Common Assessment Framework (CAF) for a child who has additional needs. The CAF is a standardised assessment which gives a full picture of a child's additional needs at any stage. It includes information from the child and their parents and covers all aspects of a child's development including health, education and social development.
- Effective practice
- When you are planning remember that children learn from everything, even things you haven't planned for – such as a fall of snow.
- Plan to observe as part of the daily routine.
- Analyse your observations to help you plan 'what next' for individuals and groups of children.
- Develop records of learning and development.
- Ensure that parents have regular opportunities to add to records.
- Ensuring flexibility in planning for the group, while keeping a focus on children's individual and present learning needs, or interests and achievements.
- Planning time for regular observations of children who attend the setting on an irregular basis.
- Involving parents in contributing to the observation, assessment and planning cycle when they are already busy.
- Creating records that are clear and accessible to everybody who needs to see them.
- Reflecting on practice
It is important to consider all the factors that affect children's development and learning.
- Are the views of parents and practitioners reflected in children's records?
- Do you review the environment and the resources after each session?
- Do you think about which children were involved in different activities and use this information to plan further?
Find out why observation is vital to effective planning for learning in the Early Years Foundation Stage (EYFS). It allows you to see each child as an individual, identify their likes and dislikes, and to assess their progress and their particular needs.
Find out about different types of assessment in the Early Years Foundation Stage (EYFS) to help you use them effectively. Formative assessment guides everyday planning, summative assessment gives a long-term summary of a child's progress and the Common Assessment Framework (CAF) is used to communicate between agencies.
Find out how using the Early Years Foundation Stage (EYFS) Framework to guide your long-term planning will enable you to focus on the overall programme in the medium term, which in turn will inform your day-to-day planning and help you put the EYFS principles into practice.
This introduction to two case studies illustrates how you can use observation, assessment and planning in your own setting for children at different stages of development in the Early Years Foundation Stage (EYFS), using activities that are appropriate for the individual child.
If you are a childminder working mainly alone, this advice will help you to observe the children in your care during the Early Years Foundation Stage (EYFS). It shows you how you can observe and make notes during everyday activities such as eating and going for a walk.