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Assessment for learning in the foundation stage

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					 Assessment for learning in the foundation stage

Assessment for learning means formative assessment which fully involves children and
practitioners together in deciding “where the learners are in their learning, where they need
to go and how best to get there”. For primary school children in key stages 1 and 2, aspects
of this process are: sharing learning goals with the children; helping children to recognise
the standards for which they are aiming; involving children in self and peer assessment;
giving feedback and helping children to identify their next steps.

However, because of the ways in which young children learn and the nature of effective
pedagogy in the early years (see EPPE findings and principles from the CGFS),
                                                    assessment for learning in the foundation
                                                    stage looks different from assessment for
                                                    learning with other age groups. The
                                                    Building the Foundation Stage Profile
                                                    video training materials (2003) pointed
                                                    out that:
                                                    `Given the open ended and play based nature
                                                    of many of the learning experiences that
                                                    children encounter within the foundation
                                                    stage, it may not always be appropriate to
                                                    share learning objectives with children
                                                    before they begin activities.'

Nevertheless, practitioners should discuss their learning with the children, giving feedback
when appropriate without interrupting their play and identifying next steps with them.

In the `What do practitioners think?' section on the CD-ROM, one practitioner describes this
process in her setting:

“The children have a vital role in the Profile. Often they will talk to us about what they
enjoyed learning. They come to us to explain what they like doing and what they can learn.”



Photograph copied from The Handbook, Foundation Profile
  WHAT IS ASSESSMENT FOR LEARNING IN THE FOUNDATION
                       STAGE?

Assessment for learning in the foundation stage includes:
      •   formative assessment based on observations and other
          evidence of learning

      •   discussions with the children about their learning wherever
          possible and involving them in self-assessment
      •   assessment used to inform planning

      •   involving children in planning their next steps.


Foundation stage assessment for learning is different from
assessment for learning with other age groups because:

     •    “Given the open ended and play based nature of many of the
          learning experiences that children encounter within the
          foundation stage, it may not always be appropriate to share
          learning objectives with children before they begin activities.”
          (Building the Foundation Stage Profile video training
          materials (2003, p22)

     •    In the Foundation Stage "there should be opportunities for
          children to engage in activities planned by adults and also
          those that they plan and initiate themselves.” (CGFS, p11)

     •    Best outcomes for children take place in settings which
          provided a near equal balance of practitioner-initiated group
          work and learning through freely chosen play. (EPPE,
          Technical paper 10, 2004)

     •    Freely chosen play activities provided the best
          opportunities to extend children's thinking. (REPEY, 2002)

'The Foundation Stage Profile links very nicely to the Foundation
Stage Curriculum, so all we've done is to tie it into our
curriculum planning'

Quote from CD-ROM: `Observing children: building the Profile'
Developing a cycle of assessment

Typically, a termly cycle of assessment occurs in effective foundation stage settings and
schools. As part of the learning and teaching process within everyday practice this cycle
would include:

   •    incidental observations, when the practitioner notices something significant he or
        she is not involved in

    •   participant observations, where the practitioner is fully involved with the children

    • carrying out one planned `focused' observation for each child (3-5 minutes) where
   the practitioner stands back to watch a child in a play-based or independent self-chosen
   activity inside or outside
   •    informal discussions with parents

   •    informal discussions with the child.

In addition, the cycle must include a time to review the children's records, make summative
assessments and develop learning priorities or targets for the children across the
breadth of the curriculum as necessary. These learning priorities should cover all
areas of learning as appropriate to the individual child, and should not be confined to
literacy and mathematics.

The CD-ROM section `What do practitioners think?' includes an interview with a
practitioner working in a team situation and describes how the process works in her setting:


“We would individually go away and look at the children that we've got each term and say
where we think they are at. Then if there are any queries we would put question marks and
we'll go back and discuss these.”

This termly cycle is applicable across the foundation stage, including in nursery settings
where practitioners are not expected to complete assessments against the Foundation Stage
Profile scales. In this way, their contributions to the assessment process will be more
focused to support transition and more useful in making the final assessments for the
Foundation Stage Profile.


In the final year of the foundation stage, staff may find it useful to make summative
judgements on all children once per term in relation to the Foundation Stage Profile
scale points, thereby making the workload at the end of the foundation stage more
manageable. In nursery settings it is much more appropriate to use stepping stones
and, where and when applicable, early learning goals as set out in the CGFS.

				
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Description: Assessment for learning in the foundation stage