Nine features of the key principles: Observation, assessment and planning

Through observation and assessment, staff, parents and children, where appropriate, can create and maintain plans which help to provide a focused and individualised approach.

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Video 1 - Pre-Birth to Three DVD: Observation, Assessment and Planning

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Observation, Assessment and Planning is one of the nine features of the Key Principles in practice.

Video 2 - Doctor Rosemary Roberts: Companionable relationships

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Freelance early years consultant and trainer Rosemary Roberts talks about relationships with young children.

Develop your practice


Reflection and action

  • How do you ensure that your observations are focused and that you record significant information?

  • Reflect on how you currently use this information and discuss the ways in which you could use it more extensively/effectively.

Case study

At a recent staff meeting, Gordon, the manager of an early years setting, was discussing observations of children’s learning. He asked members of staff to share some of the observations they had recorded that week.

Whilst some members of staff said they hadn’t been able to find time to record observations, other colleagues had recorded lots of very detailed observations. Through team discussion it was agreed that there needed to be a more consistent approach.


How should Gordon support the staff team so that they reach a shared understanding of the process and purposes of observational assessment?

Signpost to research

Many staff working with very young children are already familiar with New Zealand’s exemplary national curriculum, ‘Te Whāriki’, which has been developed for children aged 0–5 years. This research paper gives an overview of the principles and framework of Te Whariki and appraises its early implementation.

It goes on to discuss an action research project which trialled the use of ‘Learning and Teaching Stories’ as a user-friendly approach to assessment and self-evaluation in children’s centres.

Podmore, V, and Carr, M (1999) ‘Learning and Teaching Stories: New Approaches to Assessment and Evaluation’ – Conference Paper, AARE – NZAREConference on Research in Education, Melbourne, 1 Dec 1999 [online]

See also:

Scottish Government (2008) Growing Up in Scotland: Sweep 2 Overview Report, Chapter 5: ‘Activities with Others’.

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