Assessment and Observation

Learning through play

Play helps young children to learn and develop through doing and talking. Research has shown that this is how young children learn to think.

We use the Development Matters in the Early Years Foundation Stage guidance to plan and provide a range of play activities, helping children to make progress in each of the areas of learning and development.

Children can make decisions about how and when to work independently or with their peers but always under the watchful, sensitive and responsive of the adults at our setting.

Characteristics of effective learning

We understand that all children engage with other people and their environment through the characteristics of effective learning. These characteristics are described in the Development Matters guidance as:

  • playing and exploring: engagement
  • active learning: motivation
  • creating and thinking critically: thinking

We aim to provide for the characteristics of effective learning by observing how a child is learning and then being clear about what we can do (and provide) in order to support each child to remain an effective and motivated learner. Please feel free to let us know what your child’s current fascinations are and we can incorporate them into the individual planning for your child.


We assess how young children are learning and developing by observing them frequently. We use this information and photographs of the children, to document their progress and so decide upon their Next Steps.

We believe that parents know their children best and we will ask you to contribute to assessment by sharing information about what your child likes to do at home and how you, as parents, are supporting development.

We make assessment summaries of children’s achievement based on our ongoing development records. These form part of children’s records of achievement. We undertake these assessment summaries at regular intervals (usually at the end of each term), as well as times of transition, such as when a child moves into a different group or when they go on to school.

Keeping records of your child’s learning and development

  • All members of staff collect evidence of a child’s progress when they observe it either by photos or written observations.
  • We keep a record of your child’s Learning Journey and update it regularly.
  • Prior to your child starting with us the Key Person will complete an “All About Me” form with the parents, this starts the beginning of your child’s “Learning Journey”
  • Progress summary sheets are completed and shared with any other setting that your child might attend.
  • Tracking sheets are completed when a child starts the with us (on entry assessment) and then updated termly.
  • Parents’ Meetings to be held at the end of every term to discuss your child’s progress and consider the Next Steps in their learning and development.
  • During the end term of Pre-school, your child’s Key Person will complete a transfer profile – Leaver’s Report and any other school specific paperwork and ensure they are passed to the reception teacher as part of the transition process.

The progress check at age two

The Early Years Foundation Stage requires that we supply parents and carers with a short written summary of their child’s development in the three prime areas of learning and development (personal, social and emotional development; physical development; and communication and language development) when a child is aged between 24 – 36 months.

The child’s Key Person is responsible for completing the check using information from ongoing observational assessments carried out as part of our everyday practice, taking account of the views and contributions of parents and other professionals.

Learning Journeys

The setting keeps a Learning Journey for each child. This Learning Journey helps us to celebrate his/her achievements and to work together to provide what your child needs for his/her well-being so that they can continue to make progress.

Your child’s Key Person will work in partnership with you to keep this up to date. To do this you and your child’s Key Person will collect information about your child’s needs, activities, interests and achievements. This information will enable the Key Person to identify your child’s stage of progress. You and the Key Person will then decide on how to help your child to move on to the next stage.