Shoring up the foundation

16th July 2004 at 01:00
What a relief to read David Bartlett's article (TES, July 2) after all the ill-informed criticism in the national press.

As foundation stage practitioners we need to use our skilled observations of young children's learning to help plan each child's next steps.

Documenting learning through play is a rigorous process but need not be cumbersome. One well-planned observation can give a wealth of information about a child. We keep most of this information in our heads, but we do need to keep on-going records of children's achievements.

This needs to be done in a way which is both appropriate and helpful in the best tradition of nursery education. If assessment is on-going then filling in the profile is a simple process. I do not see criticism of colleagues in other key stages for keeping records or writing reports.

Much of the criticism of the profile comes from the deeply ingrained perception of the reception class really being the beginning of key stage 1, and there is still formal and inappropriate teaching and learning going on in some reception classes.

In these cases it is difficult for teachers to fill in the profile, as the curriculum they are offering does not match the profile statements. The children have no opportunity to demonstrate what they know and can do, and the teacher does not have time to observe.

Many Year 1 teachers would welcome training and support to understand the foundation stage curriculum. They can then plan the transition into the national curriculum at KS1 and accommodate those children who have not achieved the early-learning goals by the end of the reception year. These children need to continue to learn in a way appropriate to their stage of development.

As with anything new it needs time to "bed in" and for time to be given for training in the realistic recording of observations, and moderation so that we come to a common understanding of what is meant by each statement.

Jacquie Long Reception teacher St Mary's Vicarage Warrington Road, Wigan

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