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Observation, assessment and planning

Robust observation, assessment and planning procedures are at the centre of effective early years practice.

Practitioners must consider the individual needs, interests and stage of development of each child in their care to plan a challenging and enjoyable experience for each child in all areas of learning and development.

Practitioners must respond to each child's emerging needs and interests, guiding their development through warm positive interaction. Assessment plays an important part in helping parents, carers and practitioners to recognise children's progress, understand their needs, and to plan activities and support. Ongoing assessment (formative assessment) is an integral part of the learning and development process.

It involves practitioners observing children to understand their level of achievement, interests and learning styles, although this should not entail prolonged breaks from interaction with children, nor require excessive paperwork. The EYFS requires practitioners to review children's progress and share a summary (summative assessment) with parents at two points:

  • in the prime areas between the ages of 24 and 36 months
  • at the end of the foundation stage in the EYFS profile or Baseline Assessment.