This observation, assessment and record keeping policy forms part of the overall policy for delivering the Early Years Foundation Stage (EYFS) curriculum at Pastures Way Nursery School. Related policies include the Developmental Learning policy, and the policies for the seven curriculum areas of learning.


Written By:

This policy was written by the Deputy Head with contributions from the whole school staff team. It has been approved by the whole school staff, children’s centre community and the governing body.



Observation, assessment and record keeping form an integral part of our nursery education provision and the delivery of the Early Years Foundation Stage Curriculum. We view observing, assessing and recording as a holistic cycle that allows us to reflect on the planned curriculum and children’s interests, maps children’s progress, and enables us to judge how effectively we are building learning over time. This cycle begins with careful observation and assessment, undertaken by staff working closely with the parents. Tina Bruce (1987) summarises this as ‘observe, support, extend’, an approach which is developed in the guidance of the Early Years Foundation Stage. Through observing and recording, we can assess each child’s motivation, interest and progress. We can celebrate achievement as well as find out where the gaps are and plan an effective differentiated curriculum to meet needs.



For children to:

  • Have access to a differentiated curriculum which supports and extends their individual needs and interests
  • Make progress and achieve their full potential
  • Feel valued as individuals whose achievements, needs and interests are known and respected
  • Be offered new challenges

 For staff to:

  • Promote effective teaching and learning by increasing understanding of children’s interests, development and characteristics as a learner
  • Plan a differentiated curriculum 
  • Allow opportunities for reflective practice in order to address gaps in learning and ensure progress
  • Identify children’s specific needs including those of special educational needs as defined in the Code of Practice, English as an additional language, the needs of our more able children, and the needs of children with low well-being, by providing activities specific to that child
  • Listen to and respect parents / carers knowledge of their child as the child’s first and continuing educators



We use observations, record keeping and other assessment information:

  • To identify and record children’s specific needs and interests in order to plan a curriculum which builds upon current interests and fascinations
  • To inform planning and ensure all children make expected, or better than expected, progress
  • To ‘track’ a child, when the need arises, and use this information to gain specific insight into the child’s learning experience in our setting and provide effective learning support
  • To target the assessment of specific skills, knowledge and concepts when appropriate e.g. when gaps in observations / learning journeys have been noticed, or for completing an SEN assessment etc
  • To contribute to the SEN, EAL, Able Child and Well Being  profiles of children on entry and update as appropriate
  • To screen, set up and review IEP, Well Being and Able Child targets in early morning staff meetings
  • To review IEP, Well Being and Able Child targets during class team time
  • To inform parents about progress and achievements and help them support their child’s development
  • To encourage parents / carers to contribute to the record keeping and Learning Journey process from their knowledge of the child at home and in the wider social context


Guidelines for implementation:

We think carefully about how, when and where we observe, record and assess children’s learning and development. We follow these guidelines to ensure consistency across the setting:


  • All staff are responsible for observing all children and passing observations to their Key Person
  • Each fortnight each class team observes 5 focus children ready for discussion in their PPA time
  • Key Persons ensure their key children have observations across all curriculum areas and enter them into each child’s Learning Journey
  • Our observations support planning for focus children not focus activities
  • Staff use objective led planning developed from observations of children’s fascinations, interests and schemas
  • Learning is planned for individuals or small groups of children who share an interest to build skills and close learning gaps
  • Through observations, if a child or group of children show extended interest in a schema or fascination, then a Talking and Thinking Book is completed with mini PLODs (possible lines of development) inserted to inform possible next steps. Under-3s may additionally complete an individual or group PLOD if useful.
  • Planning is carefully planned to extend interests, challenge children and teach new skills, and to ensure a  balance between high level adult taught activities and child initiated activities
  • Planning evaluations inform next steps for individuals and / or groups of children who participated in the activity. On a daily basis, class teams will discuss, monitor and if necessary modify the provision on offer to allow for the children’s needs and interests
  • Child engagements are observed and monitored through our observations and staff record the children’s well being,  involvement levels and characteristics of effective learning alongside observations
  • The well- being and involvement levels noted on observations inform the termly screening of well being and involvement, and children with low levels are discussed at the relevant morning meetings


Learning Stories

A Learning Story is a research tool based on the learning narratives of Dr Margaret Carr from Waikato University in New Zealand. Learning Stories are narrative observations and provide us with a picture of our children in real situations, struggling with real problems. They invite us to speculate on what might be changed and to what effect – i.e. the child’s next steps. Learning stories capture the context of the learning environment and help us consider what is enabling or constraining learning. Staff provide their key children with one learning story per term that is then added to the child’s learning journey.


Photos and samples of work

  • Samples of work and photos are an important contribution to the observation, assessment, record keeping and Learning Journey process. Photos and samples of work can be colour photocopied if the child requests a copy to take home
  • Photos and samples of work are evident in Talking and Thinking Books and displays around the nursery
  • Each classroom will have a Talking and Thinking Book in progress


Tracking progress

  • Staff share observations and complete assessments and trackers during class team PPA time to allow team time for reflection about the children’s learning and progress
  • The Headteacher tracks progress across the nursery and looks at progress within specific groups
  • Team leaders have professional discussions with the Headteacher and with their class teams to discuss how to address the learning gaps of those children not making expected progress
  • Staff use longer tracking observations for children not making expected progress or with low wellbeing or involvement levels
  • Children requiring additional support can be referred to the appropriate member of staff using the appropriate referral pack which includes space for parent’s comments and consent. Additional support is available for able children, children with SEN, EAL and low well-being. Additional support is reviewed each half term.
  • Children’s termly assessment summaries are tracked on the nursery LATs computer system


Focus children

Over 3s will choose 5 focus children and Under 3s will choose 3 focus children per class team per week to observe. Children will be chosen, where possible, who have similar interests or are of a similar ability, to assist planning. During the focus week:

  • Staff will complete one learning story per focus child
  • The child will have a special learning journey day
  • The parent and child will have a learning conversation with the Key Person
  • The class team will discuss this information and plan for the child’s next steps in learning
  • Under 3s will, in addition, make a short recording of the child’s speech to note progress


Moderating Progress

  • Team Leaders will monitor the quality of planning in their class team weekly and consider from the evidence in the evaluations / next steps and evidence in the Talking and Thinking Books whether it is meeting children’s needs
  • Team Leaders, as a middle leadership team, will moderate planning using evidence from completed planning proformas and Talking and Thinking Books each term and action plan from their findings
  • Class teams, led by the Team Leader, will moderate each other’s assessment on entry and progress tracking during fortnightly PPA time and half termly team time
  • Staff will carry out peer observations in class teams to share and moderate good practice – one each per term
  • Staff will share video clips to share and moderate good practice – at two staff meetings per year
  • Staff will bring samples of work and observations to moderate at an annual staff meeting
  • Staff will moderate our progress tracking procedures with EYFS staff in the WAP cluster at an annual transition meeting each summer


Reporting to parents – annual cycle

  • July / December: New families meeting for families starting the following term
  • Home visits and completion of paperwork before children start
  • On home visit parents share their hopes and dreams for their child and the Key Person records
  • November (or 6 weeks after child starts if later start date):

Parent /staff consultation day

Focus – settling in and baseline progress

  • June: End of year reports in June
  • June: Parent / Staff consultation day

Focus: annual report, attainment and transition out of our setting (if applicable)

  • Parents welcome to look at / contribute to Learning Journeys throughout the year, and particularly on the child’s ‘special day’
  • Parents given leavers Learning Journeys to keep and show to their child’s next setting


Child’s Self – Assessment

  • On home visit child points to pictures / talks about what they are looking forward to in nursery – Key Person records
  • Each half term each child has a special day to share their Learning Journey with Key Person and parent / carer and a learning plan is completed
  • When the child leaves at the end of a year a reflection evaluation is completed including their hopes and dreams for their new setting
  • Throughout the year children reflect on and plan for their learning through the use of talking and thinking books and through discussion in Talking Time


Learning Journeys                

Learning Journeys, richly illustrated with photos and drawings and other samples of work, enable us to celebrate and capture the journey each child has been on during their time with us in nursery. They enable a dialogue with parents/ carers which helps all of us to understand the logic of what children are doing and why, and their drive to learn and develop. Through our planning we support complex, emerging symbolic behaviour, and extended pretend, imaginative and creative free flow play. We plan to support the child’s growing awareness of their body and emotions, their ability to think in more abstract and complex ways, and to express more difficult ideas and communicate at greater length (e.g. through speech, making marks and using sign). The use of narrative observations sometimes with photos is particularly suited to the attempt to capture this developing complexity. Learning Journeys enable us to reflect on our planned curriculum as well as track children’s capacity to become deeply involved in their learning.



  • We are beginning to use electronic Learning Journeys and until this transition is complete we will use a mixture of electronically produced and hand produced pages 
  • Learning Journeys are kept across the setting in stay and play sessions, under 3s, and over 3s, so that each child’s learning journey can be tracked
  • Children’s interests, along with samples of work, observations and other evidence of progress and achievement, are recorded in the children’s ‘Learning Journeys’ to capture significant progress
  • Children’s interests and schemas are recorded on a sheet at the front
  • Staff refer to Learning Journeys to effectively plan next steps and have evidence of children’s progress
  • Learning Journeys form the basis of a common language and professional dialogue between staff and parents in order to share knowledge of the child between home and nursery
  • Parents are encouraged to look at them to track how their child’s learning is progressing and contribute their own pieces of evidence
  • Learning Journeys are available in class at any time for parents to informally look at and contribute to
  • Each child has a targeted ‘special day’ for parents / keyworker to discuss Learning Journeys together and further opportunities for this are provided during parent/staff consultations
  • Learning Journeys form part of our evidence for inspectors
  • They are a tool to share good practice e.g. with students/visitors
  • Learning Journeys are a tool for children to use to self evaluate
  • Learning Journeys are used for annual moderation in our setting/ the WAP
  • Learning Journeys form part of an up-to-date snapshot of nursery learning


Guidelines for implementation

  • Learning Journeys follow a careful structure based on the EYFS Curriculum
  • Learning Journeys are kept during day to day use in a clip folder for ease of filing work but are transferred to a plastic presentation wallet for leavers
  • Observations, photos and samples of work must be dated
  • Observations, photos and samples of work may be cross referenced to other areas of learning where appropriate 
  • If an observation is long, use professional judgement whether to keep together as one narrative or to break it up into parts for different areas of learning
  • Ensure there is at least one observation per area per term
  • Annotate and date children’s work / pictures / photos so that the key person entering work / photos into the Learning Journey knows the context and what the child said or wanted us to know about it
  • Refer to EYFS development matters language when we write about children’s achievements / observations
  • Parents should be told about Learning Journeys during the home visit – please show them where their child’s Learning Journey will be kept as part of the child’s induction to nursery
  • Remind parents they can contribute. Ask parents to note down anything that has happened at home e.g. by using a post it or photo – so it can be included in the Learning Journey


Confidential and Safeguarding Information

  • Staff must ensure that confidential and safeguarding information must be stored safely, confidentially and appropriately. This includes records and reports kept on encrypted memory sticks (see also e-safety policy)
  • Staff must ensure that sensitive information, whether face to face or by phone call, is discussed in a private space


Equal Opportunity

  • We will actively promote a celebration and respect of the diversity of our families.
  • Staff will differentiate observations, assessment and record keeping through resources, paperwork, support or expectation to meet the needs of the individual children.
  • The Additional Support Team (AST) is led by the SENCo, and includes the Deputy Head and Family Worker. The SENCo also coordinates the EAL provision. The AST fortnightly meetings, together with the IEP, Well Being and Able Child early morning staff meetings, make decisions about how best to implement interventions to support targeted children to reach their learning potential.



  • Policies are kept centrally on the computers in the staff work area. These are updated by our admin staff. Staff have encrypted memory sticks and are expected to copy and update policies from the staff computers.
  • Observation, planning, assessment and record keeping proformas are kept in the staff work area.
  • Ready to use Learning Journeys are made up by office staff and kept available in the training room.
  • Adult information books about observation, assessment and record keeping are kept in the staff room library.


Staff CPD opportunities

We want to ensure that staff feel confident and comfortable to observe, assess, keep records including profiles of children’s learning indoors and outdoors. We will do this by providing:

  • Well organised and labelled proformas
  • Staff training opportunities in planning meetings, staff meetings, INSET days
  • Relevant books, early years professional magazines to borrow, handouts and information displayed on staff notice boards
  • An environment that expects staff to work together as a team and to be supportive, respectful and caring to each other


Responsibilities, management and coordination

  • The overall responsibility for planning and progress lies with the Headteacher
  • The Headteacher reports about planning, assessment and children’s progress, and shares information gathered from the curriculum coordinators, in the termly Headteacher’s Report to Governors
  • Team Leaders have responsibility for the progress of a class of children, as well as the development of a curriculum area, and report on this progress to the Headteacher
  • Team leaders are responsible for ensuring observations, assessment, record keeping and Learning Journeys are kept to a high standard in their class and to let the Head and Deputy know if there is a problem
  • Team leaders are responsible for ensuring the written records and written reports of children’s progress are passed on during primary school transfers, and that Learning Journeys are completed to a high standard and passed on to parents before the child leaves. These duties will be delegated to Key Persons where appropriate
  • Key Persons will take responsibility for ensuring their key group of children’s observations, assessment, record keeping and Learning Journeys are up to date and reflect the child’s progress across the curriculum
  • All staff are responsible for contributing to the observations, assessment, record keeping for all children regardless of the child’s key group 
  • Annually, Team Leaders observe their own class teams and give feedback
  • Bi – annually the Senior Leadership Team observes staff across the nursery and gives feedback
  • We share video clip observations of staff / child interactions at termly staff meetings in order to inspire and share good practice.
  • The SENCo is responsible for ensuring all staff are aware of how to differentiate for the needs of children with SEN


Agreed by Governors:           2014

Review Date: