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Half-termly 13-part assessment keeps close eye on progress

Lisa Killelay, a reception teacher at World's End infant school in Birmingham, assesses the children in her class against the foundation-stage profile every half term.

She uses the feedback to ensure there are no gaps in what children are learning, but is clear that what she does with her class is driven by the pupils' needs rather than government targets.

Miss Killelay said: "Six points is a good guide for us. You at least have some idea of where everybody is nationally. I know the profile scales and use them to inform my teaching but I also feel confident that I know where my children are.

"I'm not going to worry if child X hasn't got six points on knowledge and understanding of the world.

"What I want to make sure is that I have assessed that child appropriately and not underestimated or overestimated him, because that is no good for anybody."

Miss Killelay was involved in the creation of the profile, as one of the Birmingham teachers who provided examples of what the statements mean in practice.

The Government has said that it wants half of children to obtain six points on the seven scales which measure social and language development (see box, right). It describes this as a "good level of development".

SIX AREAS OF LEARNING

The foundation stage curriculum consists of six "areas of learning".

1. Personal, social and emotional development, which is broken down into:

* dispositions and attitudes,

* social development

* emotional development

2. Communication, language and literacy

* language for communication and thinking

* linking sounds and letters

* reading

* writing

3. Mathematical development

* numbers as labels and for counting

* calculating

* shape, space and measures

4. Knowledge and understanding of the world

5. Physical development

6. Creative development

THE TARGET AT AGE FIVE

The foundation stage profile is an assessment of children's knowledge and skills at the end of their reception year. Children are assessed out of nine on each of the 13 points above. The Government's target is for half to score at least six on personal, social and emotional development and communication, language and literacy.

To reach this target, a child must:

* be interested, motivated and excited to learn (dispositions and attitudes)

* understand the needs for rules to help groups of people work together (social development)

* begin to develop a respect for their own culture and beliefs of other people (emotional development)

* interact with others, negotiating plans and taking turns in conversation (language for communication and thinking)

* hear and say short vowel sounds within words (linking sounds and letters)

* read a range of familiar and common words and simple sentences independently (reading)

* Attempt writing for a variety of purposes using features of different forms

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