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Cherry Garden and the new Areas of Concern screen

by stephenk on May 19

A perfect accompaniment

I have previously written an article providing advice about how to implement the Cherry Garden Branch Maps in your setting.  This is a small excerpt that gives my views on progress monitoring using the framework:

To ensure that the Branch Maps remain child-centred, I would not encourage too much focus on progress data. I personally feel that it is not necessary to calculate this information at all, but I am aware that some settings like to be able to show a concrete ‘measure’ of how a child has developed. I would much rather every adult involved with a child could confidently tell me the story of a child’s learning and explain what their input has been in this process. If they know the child well enough it should be clear if the child is struggling and needs additional support, or an adjustment in provision. Likewise, it should be obvious if they are doing well.

Over the last few months, the new Areas of Concern screen has appeared on Tapestry. We designed this to support the monitoring of children’s progress with the new assessment procedures that are being advised in the EYFS. As the Areas of Concern page was being created, I was aware that it would lend itself to the Cherry Garden framework as well.

It is a monitoring screen which allows us to log any concerns we may be having, at intervals throughout the school year, based on any relevant observations as well as our own professional judgement.  We can do this across the curriculum areas, and create specific reflections linked to any concerns we might have.  I see this as a very powerful tool to use with the children in our schools and nurseries who have learning differences.  I have long advocated a move away from a ‘data-centric’ approach to assessment for these children, and now this screen provides a genuine alternative to ‘number crunching’ which should lead to a much more child-centred approach to assessment.

To take advantage of this new feature, you will need to add a curriculum ‘Flag’ to any Cherry Garden observations that you assess. This is very straightforward, and this tutorial shows you how to enable the Flags.

The tutorial showing how to use the Areas of Concern screen can be found here and you can watch Ben and Jack, from Tapestry’s Education Team, discuss the practical implementation and approach of the Areas of Concern screen in this video here.

As ever, you can contact me directly at if you require any support linked to your children who have additional support needs.




SEND Advisor and Outreach Teacher

Stephen worked in mainstream for the first four years of his career before moving to Cherry Garden School in London where he was Early Years lead and Deputy Headteacher. Cherry Garden is a school for children with severe and complex support needs, and Stephen was based there for 11 years before joining the FSF in September 2019 as our SEND Advisor. He now lives in the North East where he visits nurseries and schools to offer free support, and he shares the Branch Maps that he worked on developing at Cherry Garden. These are now part of the Tapestry assessment system. Stephen has two young children who contribute hugely to his sleep deprivation and generally ‘tired’ look.