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At Woodcroft Nursery School we work in partnership with other Maintained Nursery Schools and Early Years Alliances; working collaboratively to strengthen Early Years outcomes through the sharing of good practice and agreed principles.

We have adopted the Barnet Early Years Alliance (BEYA) approach to assessment, recognising this model as an effective, meaningful and principled assessment of young children’s learning.

At Woodcroft Nursery School we acknowledge and embrace the following values of the ‘Observation of Play and Learning’ system.

By effective, we mean a method of assessment that ensures that all children are supported in reaching significant milestones.

By meaningful, we mean that the observations made inform our everyday practice and curriculum. By gaining an insight into children’s thinking, feeling and needs we can plan our environment and actions to provide future possibilities for learning.

By principled, we mean that our focus is on observing to understand children. We will not test children or seek unnecessary knowledge. Children are recognised as individuals, not as a percentage in a pie chart.

We will not spend unnecessary amounts of time writing observations or gathering evidence of children’s learning. We believe that if we are capturing the moment, we cannot be part of the moment. Instead we have structures in place that enable us to regularly discuss each child as a team.

Making Children Visible- The Assessment Process

Getting to know you – ‘Starting points’

  • Within the first 6 weeks, the child’s development will be assessed against the OPAL age band they have most recently passed. This will inform us if the child has met developmental milestones.
  • A video of the child at play will be shared with parents to start conversations about their child’s interests and needs.

Each month there will be a group of ‘Spotlight children’ approaching their next milestone.

  • Staff will spend time observing children’s play and learning.
  • An OPAL Spotlight is completed at the end of the month.
  • Actions will be planned to promote thinking and learning to support the child’s development.
  • As a team we will meet to share what’s next for children.
  • Staff meet with parents to discuss current knowledge and plans. Observations of the child at play will be shared.

2 months later. Review meeting.

  • The key person shares their knowledge of the child’s play and learning over the last two months.
  • Plans set for the child are evaluated.


Please see links below

Part 1 OP&L A Different way to look at assessment in the early years

Part 2 OP&L How it works in practice

Part 3 OP&L Thoughts from practitioners