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Recording learning, not tracking progress (Part 2)

by Helen Edwards on October 21

With the new EYFS and associated Development Matters guidance, along with clear messages from Ofsted and Dr Grenier, we now have the opportunity to review our methods of observation and assessment, and make them work for us, our colleagues, our children and our families.

So we must make sure that any observations and assessments we make of our children are manageable, useful and do not take excessive amounts of our time away from the children. As Dr Grenier says, ‘Let’s put our efforts where they’re going to make a difference, which is in the direct work with the children. It’s the playing, it’s the conversations, it’s helping children to learn something new, it’s the respectful partnership with parents’.

If you’re working with colleagues to try a new narrative approach to observations, it might be helpful at first to look at each area of learning individually, even though children learn simultaneously across the seven areas.  In this article, we’ll be looking at the three Prime Areas.



Helen avoided full-time work for many years, following her ambition to be a perpetual student. After a degree in Linguistics, Music and Astronomy (probably the only person to have studied this particular combination of subjects) she gained a D.Phil from Sussex in Experimental Psychology. At the grand old age of 28, she thought she'd better get a proper job, so completed a PGCE and became a primary school teacher. After the birth of her second child she opened her own nursery, which she managed for ten happy years. She was amongst the first to achieve Early Years Professional Status (EYPS), and tutored students on early years courses at Brighton University. She has also been a local authority EYFS advisor and an early years Ofsted inspector. Helen is part of the Education Team, and she organises the Tapestry Education Conferences (TECs), bringing together educators, academics and LA advisors for lively discussions about teaching and learning.