Assessment EYFS 2021

The changes to the EYFS for 2021 have brought many questions for us all… but the burning questions currently surround EYFS assessment.

  • What do we record?
  • How do we evidence it?
  • Are written records no longer required?

I sat down a few days ago and brain dumped my thoughts! I wanted to consider my own what? when? and how? in order to help you find the best way for you. I found that there was so much to cover so I am going to try and break it down into manageable “sound bites” of assessment practice.

Assessment EYFS 2021
Assessment in the EYFS

I had lots of responses to my assessment mind map on social media. It got me thinking of some of the overarching principles of assessment that are easily missed when we are under pressure to provide “data”!

  • Child’s Voice
  • Transference of skills throughout the curriculum

First things first… What is assessment in the EYFS?

It should be…

  • Gathering information to understand learners and their needs
  • A snapshot of where children are on their own knowledge and skills continuum
  • A way of ensuring our curriculum meets the needs of our current cohort of children
  • A way of identifying children in need of extra support
  • In the simplest form assessment allows us to measure the impact of curriculum intent and implementation for our learners

Firstly it is not…

  • A simple judgement of children
  • Measuring children blindly

Why do we need to look again at assessment?

It is really important to note that every day formative assessment has not changed ‘It involves practitioners knowing children’s level of achievement and interests, and then shaping teaching and learning experiences for each child reflecting that knowledge.’ (Statutory Framework; Pg 18). Practitioners use the knowledge gathered to informs their “whole picture” of the child and guide them on their personal learning journey.

Assessment EYFS 2021 Cycle

The EYFS Statutory Framework, 2021, also highlights the importance of the removal of onerous assessment and data gathering for practitioners and in the past, we all know this is something we’ve had to do. It means we have needed to gather endless amounts of data to prove what we know about the children, their starting points and their learning journey. It seems that finally the DfE have caught up to the fact that pieces of paper and highlighted grids do not serve to support children… they just add additional workload to already stretched practitioners.

We all need to think about making assessment useful and manageable. We need to ensure practitioners can talk confidently about where children are and the support needed for the next steps in learning. How you choose to record this is up to you… you may not need any recorded information at all to do this. You may want to continually update a very basic tracker that you share- an aide memoir for discussion at a later date. Alternatively, you may reflect and record at set points and think about progress towards the end of year/ stage goals and how this looks like. “On the spot” assessments and next steps will continue to happen, as they always have, and the continuing practice of reflecting and recording whether children are on track throughout the year.

What do I say though?

The terminology has been up for discussion this year! How do we say that children are where they should be to meet the ELG at the end of reception or for being school ready at the end of nursery? What is the best way of referring to a child who is not meeting their milestones? The answer is… it’s up to you! Personally, I would not be using the same terminology with parents as I do with staff members. “On Track” and “Not on Track” or “Expected” and “Working Towards”, work well for practitioners- they are clear and relatable, which allows everyone to know where each child is. However, these terms can be triggering for parents. If you want to read a bit more about what I think about the current assessment terminology debate you can find my recent blog post here.

That’s just the beginning…

So this is where I have started and the beginning of my assessment “mind dump” but there is much more to come.

Next time, I am going to look at formative and summative assessments as part of the overall assessment cycle. Thinking carefully about how we use observations and what we record. In turn this should help inform us, create building blocks for learning and drive progression meaningfully.

As with all things… you do you!!

Make EYFS Assessment 2021 work for you! It needs to work for your children, staff, parents and management teams. So you may read all of this and say… not for me! However, you may be stuck in the individual child tracking hole and need this ladder to help you climb out (and carefully rope lift SLT out with you!).

As always, I’m here for advice, support or a good old rant via the socials and the website contact button- so get in touch!

This is the last blog before Christmas (the rest of the assessment learning bites are coming after the festive period). So stay safe, take time to decompress and enjoy the festivities! Hope Santa is bringing you lots of joy and relaxation time!

Emma x

Merry Christmas!