iPad Assessments for Early Years at MSJ
In the ever changing landscape of education, assessment is an area of constant scrutiny and review, with teachers constantly seeking the best way in which to provide pupils and parents with meaningful feedback.
In Reception, the girls follow a slightly different assessment structure to the rest of the Prep Department. We assess girls alongside the Early Years Statutory Framework and this means that both academic and pastoral objectives are worked towards. Never again in a girl's school life will she be assessed so closely and in such a holistic way. Any Early Years Teacher will tell you what a privilege it is to teach, observe and assess children as such.
As you can imagine, this poses its own challenges. An Early Years teacher needs to have eyes in the back of her head and her ears to the ground at all times in order to track the progress of so many areas of a child's development. When you add in our passion for keeping parents in on the deal too and supporting families with the jump to Big School... well, it's a big (but extremely rewarding) job.
Luckily for us, the job has been made a whole lot easier thanks to a new technology the School has introduced in Pre-Prep. This term, we have started assessing the girls via software called Tapestry, an online journal recording all the learning and fun of children's early years education. Feedback is added by us to enrich the observation we have made for each girl. Tapestry then does the rest for us; it tracks individual developments, notifying us of 'next steps' for our planning and notifies parents so that they can log in and view the photo, thus providing them with regular progress updates. Not only that, but when a parent views an observation, they can add their own comments, whether that be praise from home which we can read to the girl, or further, linked insights on their learning at home. Homework can also be uploaded by parents to further encourage a two-way dialogue between parents and teachers.
Parents are thrilled with this system. Here are just some of the comments we have received from parents:
“We’re BIG fans of Tapestry. After a long day, learning new things, Audrey isn’t always forthcoming with information so we use the photos, videos and notes as a prompt for her to share her day with us. It’s been a source of reassurance - letting me know that Audrey's enjoyed her swim lesson, has made healthy choices at lunchtime, or is settling with her classmates! We’ve also used it as a method of communicating with teachers when Audrey has achieved something towards her targets at the weekend.”
“I absolutely love it. As a parent it is so hard to send them off to school in these years but the posts on Tapestry make it so much easier. It is also a way round the inevitable answer of 'I don't remember' when you ask what they did at school that day.”
“Love it! Fab way to communicate and I love the pictures! I log in daily and discuss the topics with Freya every night!”
“I would say Tapestry is an amazing tool to use as a parent. We have the best-ever insight into our daughter's day at school. It not only helps us to understand what she is doing so that we can support her at home, but also gives us peace of mind that she is happy and well during the school day. We have pictures and videos of her for our family album that we would never otherwise have had. We are able to give feedback and upload pictures of what she does at home with her homework, and exchange information about it with her teachers via the comments. My parent-colleagues are all very jealous!”
This really is technology at its finest - the purposeful use of key software to enhance assessment and tracking right from a girl's first year at MSJ. Tapestry is proving to be a super development here at MSJ; it is benefiting girls, teachers and parents so all can adopt a collaborative approach and bring out the best in each girl.
Words by Miss F Hayles and Mrs Z Wilkinson
Pre-Prep 1 Teachers