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Please can you tell me your rationale of why we do a Learning Journey?

Discussion in 'Early Years' started by snail, Nov 4, 2010.

  1. I feel I am clear about the purpose of the LJ in R, that is so we can moderate the EYFSP. The format thus needs to be able to be clear to moderators/other practitioners. (Feel free to add/contradict this)

    However I now find I am in a position where I am called on to advise a nursery (0-5) about theirs, and I feel I am suddenly questioning the whys and wherefore. A huge amount of work seems to go into them by the practitioners, making them well presented; some parts are even typed up by a secretary. Although they say that they are aware of next steps feeding into planning/resourcing/environment, they are not present in the LJ, and they have even taken a box saying 'next step' off one format. They say that the children would end up with far too many next steps that would be unmanageable - fair point. But there is such a lag in the LJs being updated and the info being collected, because of the concern about presentation (and lets face it, I always had a pile of stuff to add to mine) that I am now questioning myself who the blooming things are for! Are they a working document, which may have scruffy notes in, or are they finished items to make a keepsake for the parents? Or for any other reason? Please help me clarify my thoughts!

    Don't get me wrong, the gathering of info and the obs we do are so useful in feeding into planning, but it is the format and the rationale of the LJ itself I am struggling with.

    Thanks for your expertise!
     
  2. I feel I am clear about the purpose of the LJ in R, that is so we can moderate the EYFSP. The format thus needs to be able to be clear to moderators/other practitioners. (Feel free to add/contradict this)

    However I now find I am in a position where I am called on to advise a nursery (0-5) about theirs, and I feel I am suddenly questioning the whys and wherefore. A huge amount of work seems to go into them by the practitioners, making them well presented; some parts are even typed up by a secretary. Although they say that they are aware of next steps feeding into planning/resourcing/environment, they are not present in the LJ, and they have even taken a box saying 'next step' off one format. They say that the children would end up with far too many next steps that would be unmanageable - fair point. But there is such a lag in the LJs being updated and the info being collected, because of the concern about presentation (and lets face it, I always had a pile of stuff to add to mine) that I am now questioning myself who the blooming things are for! Are they a working document, which may have scruffy notes in, or are they finished items to make a keepsake for the parents? Or for any other reason? Please help me clarify my thoughts!

    Don't get me wrong, the gathering of info and the obs we do are so useful in feeding into planning, but it is the format and the rationale of the LJ itself I am struggling with.

    Thanks for your expertise!
     
  3. mumbobumbo

    mumbobumbo New commenter

    This is an interesting discussion. The reasons we create Record of Achievements for the children at my nursery are:
    Parents and children They are very personal (as they should be in nusery) and show the journey each child takes during their time with us. Thus they present a very clear picture of the 'value added' in each child's development. I like to share them with children so they can see and reflect upon their learning. It's also lovely when they share their book with their friends. Ideally (though this rarely happens) RoAs should be a shared diary between the setting and home, and so there should be lots of benefits that come with that.
    As a parent I am more than happy for observations to be hand written quickly and stuck in my child's file, if the alternative means the teacher is too snowed under and very few observations make it to his file.
    Staff They are used to evidence learning and experiences and so aid the assessment process. The information presented in them does feed in to the planning but I do think planning could reflect children's needs & interests without recording the amount of info we do in the RoAs. It cannot be the only reason then why we do them.
    In an open-plan nursery the keyworkers need a method of sharing learning that takes place somewhere else and the RoAs provide an opportunity to do that. They help to strangthen the keyworker-child relationship because the KW upkeeps their RoAs and so has a deeper knowledge of their own children.


    The key is finding a manageable way of keeping up to the books. I've never heard of admin staff typing up observations before and I must say that ideas not for me. I am sometimes snap-happy with the camera but also feel the need to write an observation too. I've started to rethink this as sometimes I simply write what is obvious in the photo. It wastes too much time so in future, when a photo is sums up the learning nicely, I won't write an observation as well.
     
  4. Hi, I am by no means an expert as I have juststarted in FS after a while in KS2.

    I went to a workshop about learning journeys recently and asked the question - who are they for? No one had an answer/

    If they are just to pass up to the next teacher, I think there could be a much quicker and easier way of showing the kind of work the child produces.

    If they are for the parents, then I htink a smaller, simpler scrapbook could be produced over the year with photos of the child in the Christmas play for example and perhaps pictures of the child with friends, writing etc.

    I am inexperienced and am probably speaking out of turn and would hate to cause offence. But the amount of work that we are putting in to ours right now seems unbalanced - think we spend longer sticking in obs and photos and writing in the ELGs that they refer to than we do planning! And dare I say it, from some of the LJs I saw at the workshop, perhaps more time is spent on them than interacting with the children. A wonderful souvenier for parents which I am sure they would treasure, but not sure if that is the purpose of a reception teacher.
    I am really hoping someone here will give me a good 'talking to ' about my opinion - would love to be proved wrong and told just how useful, relevant and easy to produce they really are!
    We are considering a class learning journey in a big a3 folder with the polythene pockets in, and photos, post-it observations etc stuck in each week chronologically so there is a 'communal' book or reference for anyone who wants to look and see the work we have been doing with our children. It may runin to several volumes, but I htink as we are all learning together, it would be nice to present all the learning together.
    But, as I said, I have been in FS for seven weeks and don't really know much about it. A friend of mine is a TA in Kent and she works 4 days a week between 2 reception classes. and she says her whole time (not most of her time but her whole time) is spent sorting photos and sticking them in to the learning journeys along with stickers of the ELGs. Personally I htink a TA is worth a lot more than that. And the children in those classes deserve better.
    But no doubt someone much more experienced and knowledgeable will put me right.
     
  5. I struggle with the 'who are they for?' question too. If I'm totally honest, I'm mostly updating them with the parents in mind.

    However, I stick post its in 'as is' - unless they were really hastily scribbled, and I don't tie myself in knots too much about the presentation. I share them with the children fairly regularly, encouraging them to reflect on their learning and notice things they can do now they couldn't before as well as thinking about what they might do next. I encourage parents to contribute through 'wow' cards that are always available and they can note anything they've noticed at home.

    I try to make sure I stick that day's post its, photos etc in before I leave each night, and I'm learning to be more selective in what I take pictures of/ note down - only if it actually gives me new information or backs up something I believed the child could do before but didn't actually have evidence of. The theory is that way it only takes maybe 30 mins at the end of each day. In reality though it often builds up and becomes a full day job at the weekend. I'll look at either the learning journeys themselves or my stack of obs from the week when planning though.


     
  6. I think you are absolutely right to bring it up. To question this. I think it is definately now a case of the tail wagging the dog. We are very lost in England at the moment and I can say that with absolute certainty. The observations you make about the gathering, presenting and cross-referencing of evidence are totally correct. It is a waste of valuable time. Interactions with young children are the most important factor in their lives. I will also commit almost heresay but I do think it is all so well-meant yet dreary to constantly hear the phrase 'to feed into planning'. As I think for most people there is an almost scitzophrenic split between what they think thay have to write down, and what they actually do with children which they feel isn't actually worthwhile unless it is written down and 'feeds' the ever hungry planning..

    As a parent I am not at all interested in a learning journey with pretty photographas and annotated work. Not at all. I want my daughter to go to nursery and enjoy herself. I'd rather hear about who she plays with and what she likes to do than see this as evidence that she is developing according to scales of normality. I know too well she is developing, irrespective of nursery or reception she will continue to develop. I see time running through my hands like sand. I don't want evidence of that. I want wonder, compassion, empathy and lightness of being from the peole who are accompanying my child at this stage. SHe will absorb this as much if not more than any other 'well planned' meal of earnest stone objectives. We have got far too earnest about the learning race. She could play all day in the home corner with her plasticine breakfasts, or draw queens of hearts in castles as many times as she wants. I don't mind if no-one 'moves her on'. I don't want anyone to 'move her on' down a 'next steps' programmed journey. She is four. I love her being four. I don't want anyone to thinks she could be a better four if she moved on a bit. I do want her to know that school is a worthwhile place, where you are listened to, can ask questions, can follow up things you like to do, can show you new things, can fill you full of wonderful stories heard in the company of new friends, hear new songs,meet odd characters who wear twenty-seven different wigs or fall off walls and can never be put together again. I don't want the nursery to provide me with a souvenir as if she is a tourist and as for portfolios of evidence leave that for GCSE or university. I have faith in life I don't want ot be soafraid of it that I must constantly document it. SO question it. If you don't the emperor's procession will proceed in a stately increasingly pompous and meaningless way up its own b-m. I am by the way a fully paid up member of the nursery-teacher-to-the-bone EEY AYYE EYY EYE club with a new alter-ego as a pile of melted mush- namely a parent.
     
  7. NellyFUF

    NellyFUF Senior commenter

    Go girl go!
     
  8. Couldn't agree more.
     
  9. I cannot believe I am reading this. Are nursery children seriously expected to 'reflect on their learning'?
    I thank heaven my own children didn't have to endure any of this nonsense...
     
  10. inky

    inky Lead commenter

    Johanalicante, your post was music to my ears. Brilliant!
    Why do we do Learning Journeys? Because we'll get into trouble if we don't, that's why, and they sound so much more intellectual than scrapbooks.
    My own feeling is that we should give the parents an empty scrapbook when their children start nursery and reception. Maybe we could be generous and throw in a couple of tubes of pritstick. Then the children could return to the old happy practice of waving their daily daubs proudly at their parents at home time.
    We had a Finnish supply teacher in one day. Now, the Finnish system is much admired. She was shocked at the amount of paperwork we have to do here.
    The worsst thing I have heard is that, at some schools, the LJs are shredded at the end of reception.
    Wonderful, wonderful post.

     
  11. Crumbs! Thank you so much for all your passionate replies.

    I am glad I am not the only one who is not sure why we are making LJs; I had thought I had missed out on something vital I should have known. Obviously not.

    However this now raises a rather bigger issue, doesn't it? Why are we spending so much time on something that we have no rationale for? Can it ever revert to what it was, that is, a working document for a teacher/worker that is not a 'finished document' for viewing by (especially) parents? What do Ofsted use it for/get from it (although not the be all and end all, Ofsted is a serious consideration)? And the LEA? Are any of these giving us clear answers? (Any inspectors/advisors out there willing to comment?)

    I hope we can become clearer, otherwise I may have to start a revolution (and I don't think I have the energy!).
     
  12. Doitforfree

    Doitforfree Senior commenter

    Asa parent acan I say that I would NOT appreciate a scrapbook ofwhat my child did in nursery? I am not so stupid as not to realise that if the teacher has made one for every child then they've spent a lot of time doing that which could have been spent talking to a child, or having a cup of tea. If I want a record of my child's pre-school years I'll make my own. Please don't think it has any benefit for parents or that it's something parents need. Since when did parents need a record of absolutely everything their child ever did?
    I'm a childminder but I refuse to play this stupid game. I keep the same diary I always did and pass on the odd photo to parents if they have the gumption to give me their emial address (which in spite of repeated requests most don't. They really aren't that bothered about getting the photos!). Many parents never even look at the diary. I certainly don't. I know I only have one or two children but I don't find it hard to remember what they can do, what they have done and what they might like to learn next.
    I'm glad my own children weren't at nursery in the current regime. They've all grown into magnificent, high achieving adults, at a very ordinary school. I think I and their schools may have done something right. I wonder if today's cohort will achieve more or be happier? I'm pretty sure I know the answer!
     
  13. Just to say - brilliant thread! Little children need time with caring adults, with stimulating things to do, not tick boxes and manic scrapbooks!
     
  14. inky

    inky Lead commenter

    I'm glad to see people areechoing my use of the word scrapbook. Learning Journey is just so pompous.
     
  15. inky

    inky Lead commenter

    are echoing
    sorry


     
  16. NellyFUF

    NellyFUF Senior commenter

    I heard something so wise recently.
    if your scrap book observations are very behind and you have months to stick in, you might as well just shove it in a folder and forget about it- because the child will have moved on and be doing and learning quite different things now
    My sister in law was presented with several scrapbooks when her children left their various and piecemeal places of care and education to go to school. She asked me
    "What am I supposed to do with all this?"
    And she binned them.
    But it is not Ms Zarg who is the petty guardian of such paper trails, it is Mr Crackett (SIP) who does not understand that wet pants and shoe laces might interfere with even the neatest targets and learning intentions and that a conversation with the teacher about the children would be far more revealing about how they learn and what they can do/know
     
  17. inky

    inky Lead commenter

    Nelly, I'd forgotten about Ms Zarg and Mr Crackett, even though they first appeared to me in a dream. Thank you for reminding me of their existence so that we can have a bit more fun at their expense.
    I'd go farther: you might as well chuck them in the bin. I've done that a fair few times, always with a twinge of guilt because I hadn't sent them home when they were new and fresh and relevant.
     
  18. InkyP

    InkyP Star commenter

    Who is it who says we have to do them anyway? No-one has ever told me to do it. I keep evidence of achievements in a folder, and photos in children's own files on the computer. My observations are on special proformas, or post-its or scraps of paper or whatever comes to hand at the time, I keep these separately. I also keep a Scrapbook of activities we have done together on the computer which I show on the IWB sometimes when parents are bringing children in, or on parents' evenings. I don't think it is my job to provide photo albums for parents.
     
  19. inky

    inky Lead commenter

    [​IMG]
     
  20. inky

    inky Lead commenter

    Parents love pictures of trips and exciting activities. Kneading dough, making mud pies, etc. I like slideshows - they make everyone feel happy and sociable.
     

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