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Planning and Assessment

Planning in the Moment

One of the most powerful forms of planning and assessment takes place in the here-and-now – planning in the moment. To make a real difference to children’s learning we need to seize the moments when children first show curiosity and support their next steps immediately. Every time we interact with a child or a group of children we are observing, assessing, planning for and responding to that individual child or the group, in that moment.

The Ofsted definition of teaching is very useful in supporting staff to recognise the teaching that they are doing through interactions and through the enabling environment. Teaching includes communicating and modeling language, showing, explaining, demonstrating, exploring ideas, encouraging, questioning, recalling, providing a narrative for what they are doing, facilitating and setting challenges (Ofsted 2015)

The observation, assessment and planning cycle.

We gather key information about the children by observing them and from what their parents and carers have told us. We consider and think about what they know and what next. We then plan what and how we will teach to allow the children to develop their thinking and maximise learning.  We review the children's understanding of our intended learning and allow for repetition to practise their new knowledge and skills. We keep this cycle going to help children to build on their learning.  We choose children who will have these assessments recorded every week – they are our Focus Children. These children are given a form to take home for their parents to complete at the end of a week, asking about current interests of the child, any special events in the family and any questions the parents may have. Families send photos into school and on Monday a ‘learning journey’ sheet is started for each of the focus children. The children are discussed with all the staff to indicate areas that the key person or parents would like to try and capture.  During the week, any adult who has a productive interaction with a focus child records the event on the Learning Journey. The whole cycle is recorded – the initial observation, the teaching and the outcome. Adults meet daily to record and discuss the children’s learning and to plan the environment to support the learning. We discuss what the child knows, what they can do and any barriers they may have to learning. Together we decide what action to take next to support any specific next steps.

An example of an In the Moment Planning Sheet

Reporting to Parents.
Key people feedback the child’s Learning Journey to parents the following week and the parents add their contributions and the child’s voice which further help the team to gain an even greater understanding of each child’s fascinations and interests. Each child will be a focus child once a term.

Individual learning.
It is important to note that some children will need a lot more help and scaffolding to access the curriculum. We will notice what children can and cannot do. We are good at deciding when it will be helpful to step in and support a child through interacting and when it is best to be encouraging without interrupting or interfering. It is important that we are certain that children are secure in what they know and can do, before introducing them to something new.

Using our knowledge of Child Development.
Practitioners need to have a secure understanding of child development, as well as the features of effective pedagogy. This will help with judging when to get involved with children’s play and when to encourage and know how to scaffold children’s learning so we support them to keep trying without over-helping them.

Practitioners need to understand how the different elements of the curriculum fit together to help children build their learning over time. Reflective discussions about practitioner’s key children daily after school and during weekly planning meetings support this understanding. We also spend time at our planning meeting to plan for and document out adult-led daily Group Times and adult initiated weekly ‘Talk Time’ and enrichments. This will include planning adult time and the environment to support the learning in our 10 Curricular Goals. Literacy and Maths are systematically taught during our Group Times as well as in context naturally through our high-quality play-based learning environment. We check and assess that all areas of the EYFS Curriculum are being focused on through teaching and are reflected in the environment

Our curriculum learning must be balanced with learning that stems from the children’s interests. Plans must be flexible and go with children’s fascinations. Children learn a huge amount through the play they choose. We will help maximise this learning by making sure we provide a high-quality learning environment, indoors and outdoors. It is important that we have a systematic approach to evaluating the quality of the environment, and those interactions, so that we can build on what we do well and improve where we need to. Regular audits of the learning environment ensure this takes place.

We may plan to keep a particular part of the provision the same to allow the child more time to explore and master a skill, or if the practitioner decides that a child has reached a particular milestone in a curricular goal we might introduce a new resource that allows the child to progress on to the next stage of learning. We might also plan for a part of the provision that is linked to a child’s particular fascination, such as making a dinosaur museum for our ‘dug up’ dinosaur bones and teeth. Our plans are flexible to ensure both curricular and child-initiated learning is included.

Curriculum Development throughout the year.
As well as our planned adult focused weekly enrichments and talk times, we plan in other special activities throughout the year such as our theatre visit, farm visit, local trips out, forest school activities and life cycle observations. These activities provide us with a starting point to further explore the world around us and all its diversity and wonder; they enrich opportunities for teaching and learning. Our 10 Curricular Goals learning weaves in and out throughout the year and can be picked up and worked on together at multiple points.

As well as the Children’s learning journey sheets and the 10 Curricular goals, Practitioners record significant observations or ‘wow moments’ in the child’s learning journey folder as well as a photographic record of each child’s first week. The aim of these records is to ‘bring the child’s learning to life.’ The child’s achievements and perseverance are made clear and they take great pride in sharing their folders with their friends, the Nursery adults and their families.

We track and monitor children’s well-being and involvement throughout the year using the Leuven scales. This helps us to identify any children needing extra support, for example with attachment, friendships or managing their feelings. Alongside this we track and monitor all children’s communication, language and speech development to ensure that additional input is provided where need. These ongoing observations and assessments are shared regularly with parents.