Reception children in profile

Reception children are to be assessed in all six areas of experience for the new Foundation Stage Profile. Teachers will have to complete the assessments by the end of the summer 2003 term, looking at nine achievements in each of 13 categories. They will be expected to fill in the profile over the course of the year. Guidance, tried out in 189 schools last term, is being finalised and will be sent out in January 2003. A draft is already on the Qualifications and Curriculum Authority website.

According to Pauline Hoare, project director at the QCA, the profiling should not take extra time. It should fit into the half-day a week an early-years teacher would normally spend on assessment. She emphasised that the profile is not a test, but will rely on teachers' professional judgment across the year, and their knowledge of their pupils.

The optional guidance shows how a teacher would recognise that a child had reached a particular goal, and provides a range of "case studies" with teacher-led assessment activities. There is also advice on involving parents and on children with special needs or with English as an additional language. Children, too, should play a part in their own assessment.

Pauline Hoare said the nine goals in each category do not represent an exact scale of progression, so that, for instance, point 5 under Emotional Development ("has a developing awareness of own needs, views and feelings and is sensitive to the needs, views and feelings of others") would not necessarily come before point 6 ("has a developing respect for own culture and beliefs and those of other people").

The first three points describe a child still progressing toward the Early Learning Goals; the next five are drawn from the goals themselves; point 9 describes a child who has moved beyond them.

There is to be training for teachers in the Spring term, and assessment will be moderated by local authorities. In future, national data will be available, so that schools can compare their own children's results, but this year's data collection will be treated as a national pilot. Teachers will still have to report the results to parents and Year 1 teachers.

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