Little Gruffalos Nursery in Ackworth (Wakefield, UK) is just one of many Nursery and pre-schools all over the world that are using the ‘Evidence for Learning’ app to improve the way they capture children observations and achievements for learning journals. Here’s a short case study on how the app has transformed how assessment is done at the nursery.

“I recommend the ‘Evidence for Learning’ app to Nurseries, Children Centres, and Schools.” Emma Percy (Head of Little Gruffalos Nursery) (www.littlegruffalos.co.uk)

Never enough time in the day!

Like most nursery staff, the largest obstacle they face when collecting the required evidence is time. According to Emma Percy, Head of Nursery;

“We would often take photos to record evidence but then forget what the photos were representing and the initial true meaning behind the photo was being lost. We also struggled with PPA (planning, preparation and assessment) time. Staff were allocated 1 hour a week to update learning journals with photos and evidence but often by the time they had organised everything and remembered what each child had been doing there was no time left.”

A versatile solution to help with assessment that works offline

Emma had initially looked at web-based software packages that would help with nursery/pre-school management; however, while being useful in other operational areas or the nursery, many of these solutions proved to be very limited in the features and tools they provided to support formative assessment. Also, and crucially, they required an internet connection when you use them.

“The Internet coverage in this area is sparse, we would get connected and then it would cut out as soon as we started to down load content or if we were outside. We needed a solution that would offline.”

Emma downloaded five apps that are targeted for Early Years, with the view to use them all simultaneously to test them out. However, three of them couldn’t be fully used without subscription, so they were instantly dismissed as a potential solution. Emma finally chose the Evidence for Learning app as it enabled their staff to take advantage of a free trial period, allowing them to see how it works in their nursery. The decision was welcomed by all staff who took to it immediately. According to Emma;

“I had more completed pieces of evidence in two weeks than I had received in six months!”

‘Child-led’ planning

The Evidence for Learning app is also used by staff at Little Gruffalos to record their weekly planning.

“We plan organically or ‘child led’, if you prefer. This entails topics changing regularly so the planning is on a large whiteboard in the office that staff and parents can see and contribute to. As the topic is starting to change it is recorded on the app as ‘evidence’.”

Return on investment

Little Gruffalos quickly saw a return on their investment in the Evidence for Learning app – within the first 3 months. In addition to reduced paper and printing costs associated with the preparation of learning journals, there has been a reduction in the amount of time paid to staff for additional PPA (planning, preparation and assessment).

“The collected evidence is now much clearer, and there is greater continuity in how all the children’s evidence is presented to both parents and OFSTED Inspectors.”

 

About Little Gruffalos

Little Gruffalos Nursery is a day care and holiday provision setting in Ackworth, a semi-rural village in easy distance of Doncaster and Wakefield. They have 15 children at any one time aged 20 months – 5 years and older in the school holidays. As well as day care, the nursery offers a holiday club for children up to 11 years old, and also provides a wrap-around service and after school for children attending the local Bell lane Primary School. Set on the grounds of the village cricket field, with full access to the cricket fields and surrounding grounds, the building is open plan, so the children are not kept in age rooms but altogether. The fields are used for sport activities as well as ‘rolling down the hill’, sports day activities and ‘parachute’ games.

Summary
Article Name
How to spend less time preparing higher quality learning journals
Description
A case study looking at how Little Gruffalos nursery / pre-school has reduced the time that staff spend capturing and documenting children observations and yet is able to produce higher quality learning journals using the Evidence for Learning app.
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