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Explain the Observation, Assessment and Planning Cycle in Childcare

Paper Type: Free Essay Subject: Childcare
Wordcount: 2396 words Published: 3rd Aug 2021

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The process of effective planning observation and assessment is a vital factor in identifying children’s individual needs interests and abilities. In order to plan for their learning and development. This process has been recommended by Early Years (2013) and this involves the practitioners following a three step cycle which consists of planning, observation, and assessment.

The practitioner will discuss each stage of the cycle and its practical application to the child’s individual needs. Every child whatever their background or circumstances has the right to support, which they need to enjoy and achieve and make a positive contribution. (Every Child Matters 2003.)

With the use of planning observation and assessment the practitioner can support the learning and development requirements for each child in their care.


The Learning cycle follows three steps.


Planning every area of learning and development is important to ensure the child`s achievement The Practitioner should follow identified observation and assessment of the child through relevant play through a range of mixed adult –led and child initiated activities.


The second stage is of observation which looks at the part of process that helps practitioners learn about the individual children. Observation may also identify the delayed areas of the child’s development which would signal that additional support may be required. A good point. There are two types of observations which are formal and spontaneous. More information can be collected from spontaneously observing the child, as without prior warning, the child will be playing naturally. Formal observation may find the child nervous and self-conscious and they may not play or interact, therefore no observation can then take place. Formal observation is more directed towards observing the child’s development of a particular task/skill or the child understands and knowledge.

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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” (Early Years 2013) The two types of assessment use are; formative assessment and summative assessment. Firstly formative assessment is an on-going children’s assessment. (CHILD DEVELOPMENT) This is gone by the practitioner observing the child on a regular basis for example playtime on a weekly basis. The second assessment is the summative assessment and this is the evidence that is collected though the formative assessment over a period of time. These assessments are used to review the development progress of children against meowed development on milestones REF

For example, the child is formatively assessed a weekly basis dewing play and building blocks. The summative assessment will be that the child’s development has improved, as the child can now not only connect the building blocks together but over a period of time the building blocks have progressed and the child can now build wall’s to make a building. There are showing their development.


> is based on regular, a curate assessment of children’s learning,

Knowledge and skills

> reflects supports and challenges children’s current interest,

Enthusiasms and their learning and development

> is a flexible, working document, which is responsive to spontaneous events

> enables all practitioners to contribute, understand and articulate why experiences have been planned

> enables children, parents and practitioners to have a voice in the planning process


  • Provide opportunities for individual children’s emerging needs, interests and stage of development based on previous observations and evaluations
  • Identify appropriate links between experiences and EYFS development statements (learning intentions)
  • Provide interesting and challenging experiences for all children within the seven areas of learning and development
  • Outdoor activities are planned and taken on a daily basis
  • Identifies differentiation for individual children or groups of children
  • Provides a range of child initiated and adult-led experiences
  • Identify high quality teaching strategies’ together with support and intervention that mach individual children’s needs (next steps) to ensure good progress
  • Evaluate planned and unplanned learning
  • Reflect on learning environment to adapt and enhance provision


Planning when being arranged should be flexible to take into account different age group children`s different background the weather and the unexpected.

The child`s planning should be based upon your assessment and observation of the individual child so you can take the best steps for their further learning and development. The Development Matters guidance is and can be a very useful tool in planning successfully the child`s ability to move on to the next stage of development.

There are 3 steps of planning.

1. Long term.

Providing you with themes and topics you may cover over the term.

All links to learning and development areas, a balance of indoor, and outdoor activities. Periods of rest and being quite are also required.

2. Medium term.

A better detailed plan of topics and themes to be covered. Consideration of other routines such as mealtimes babies sleeping times. All main resources within your setting`s as play areas, equipment storage areas, book corner. A observation area for you to identify the child`s needs.

3. Short term.

A weekly plan of plans, observational findings and activities to be carried out. Making reference to the child`s interest .The particular piece of equipment or resource that may be needed the area or amount of room required, health and safety issues that may arise. Ensure you have made arrangements for all the different age groups, and children with disabilities and special educational needs.

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A good outline of the different types of planning.

Long term planning will provide an overview of topics and themes practitioner will cover for children in their care however long term planning will not identify which interest children will have so any planning should be flexible to be able to adapt at last minute if required. Spontaneous activity is one of the most effective learning experiences. Weather is a very strong interesting subject for the children i.e. rain , snow, winds and sunshine many points of interest can be made from the weather many activities can be made use of, Rain, flooding control of water what rain stops you doing, Snow, melting snow building objects snowball fights to began. Wind, power of wind, moving objects leaves trees people movement, flags, sun, heat outdoor activities.

The Main difference between formative and summative assessments methods is primarily the time scale involved in each of the assessment types.

Formative Assessment is the process of obtaining factual information. Based on firsthand knowledge, gathered by the practitioner whilst spending time with the child, observing the habits and routines of the child. The Sources of information can range from photographs, videos or even conversations with the child’s parents as this can highlight things that otherwise could be missed as behaviour at home can be very different for some children. The process of assessing what young children know and can do poses particular challenges for young learners. Assessing children is often “unreliable,” as young children’s performance is not necessarily consistent over even short periods of time. Contextual influences and emotional states can affect how they perform on assessments. Moreover, young children develop at vastly different rates and their developmental and learning patterns can be episodic, uneven, and rapid. Understanding what children know is important for teachers, since children’s new knowledge builds on prior knowledge. Given these factors, teachers’ use of formative assessment to inform instruction is an essential piece of effective pedagogy.

Formative assessment is much more than repeated assessment measures over time. Formative assessment is a process, which includes a feedback loop to assist children in closing the gap between current status and desired outcomes, milestones, or goals. It informs and supports instruction while learning is taking place, by having children receive feedback from the instructor. It also includes multiple sources of evidence gathered over time. The formative assessment process is not a single

event or measurement but rather an ongoing planned and intentional practice to evaluate learning with teaching. Formative assessments yield descriptive data—not necessarily judgments. It often takes the form of observational protocol using evidence collection as a means to examine children’s cognitive processes. Formative assessment may be defined in different ways in state regulations and interpretations. The definition best captures the essence of formative assessment for the purposes of this brief focused on young children. It is defined as, “a process used by carers for children during instruction periods that provide feedback to adjust ongoing teaching and learning, to improve children’s achievement of intended instructional outcomes.”

Summative Assessment is almost a conclusion of your collective knowledge gained from doing your Formative assessment’s, this is obviously an assessment that is done over a longer period of time as all the prerequisite Formative assessments need to be completed. This knowledge gives the practitioner the ability to make an educated verdict on the achievements of the child. The EYFS Profile is the summative assessment used to review children’s progress along the early learning goals. Summative assessment also employs a variety of tools and methods for obtaining information about what has been learned. In this way, summative assessment provides information at the early year’s levels. Defining characteristics of effective summative assessment include a clear alignment between assessment and instruction, as well as the use of assessments that are both valid and reliable. When objectives are clearly specified and connected to instruction, summative assessment provides information about a children’s achievement of specific learning objectives.

Individual Learning Programmes can be formed from using these particular assessments, these assessments should also, supports and endeavour to comply with the ethos devised through “Every Child Matters”.


I can conclude that it’s a vital part of the process between carer/care organisation’s to stringently follow the observation assessment and planning cycle as this can effectively show any pitfalls in the learning and development process of the children. With formative and summative being the most useful and statutory assessments in situ, the only problem I find, is they can be restrictive or to slow in fully identifying issues and vital time can be lost to the carer/ organisation and the child. Flexibility by that carer/organisation is crucial to the learning development of the children and individual learning programmes can be a good guideline to promote the weaknesses and turn them into strengths through focused sessions which should be reviewed as frequently as possible to ensure the child’s learning does not become static and too focused on any one particular set of problems or issues, learning the child’s strengths through the formative and summative methods can genuinely help create Individual learning programmes tailored to the child allowing you to improve their weaknesses through their strength i.e. a young person learns through music quicker than reading so using song’s to remember the alphabet (using strength to overcome a weakness) this is the main focus of correctly using the above mentioned methods and adhering to the observation, assessment and planning cycle.




Department of Education (2013): Improving the functionality and range of education and childcare from birth to 5 years, www.gov.uk/government/ Updated 1st Sep 2014 Accessed 27th Oct 2014


Every child matters 8th September 2003 (from HM Treasury – www.gov.uk/government/uploads (Presented to parliament by the chief secretary to the treasury by command of her majesty September 2003)

Observation, Assessment and planning cycle Statutory framework for the early years foundation stage DFE - 2014

Ref united nations (1989) convention on the rights of the child, united nations, network

Childeminding and Ofsted effective practice: observation, planning


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