Moderation – Some thoughts!!!

Moderation is an important part of the Observation, Assessment and Planning cycle across the Early Years Foundation Stage and not just at the end, as part of the EYFSP.   It is the Profile Moderation, usually undertaken in June as part of the Statutory Duty of Local Authorities, which most professionals are familiar with:

LAs are responsible for providing a robust moderation process so that practitioners’ judgements are evaluated in line with statutory requirements.

Moderation of the EYFS profile:

  • secures the consistency and accuracy of judgements made by different practitioners
  • reassures practitioners that their judgements are accurate, valid and consistent with national standards
  • assures moderators that an acceptable level of accuracy and validity has been achieved for assessments recorded and reported by the settings for which they have responsibility

STA, EYFSP 2017 Profile Handbook, p.32 – 36

The EYFSP Profile Handbook is thorough in its description of moderation for the Early Learning Goals and gives helpful guidance. However, moderation processes should also be an integrated part of observation and assessment throughout the Foundation Stage.

Why Moderation?

Whenever we make a judgement about a child’s development, progress and learning we make decisions which could be described as subjective as they are based on our own thoughts, knowledge, opinions and influences.  For these reasons a subjective decision is not considered as robust and reliable especially when we are looking at children’s learning.  So how can we make our decisions more reliable and objective so that they are professionally informed and robust?

 Triangulation is the key factor here in making our decisions as objective as possible and professionally informed by considering multiple perspectives, especially those in your Observation and assessment tool kits. By bringing in other perspectives such as the Leuven Scales of well-being and Involvement or a good knowledge and understanding of language development we make our judgements stronger and more professionally informed.   This means that moderation becomes an integrated part of the process and not an ‘add on when we have time’!

How does moderation support the development of good practice and practitioner/teacher knowledge?

Moderation is an essential part of good practice as it strengthens our professional knowledge and understanding of children’s development and learning; supports the quality of learning and teaching; and ensures that children are supported and engaged in appropriate and inspiring experiences based on their specific needs and interests.

Moderation processes can:

  • support the continual professional development of the adults as they observe, analyse and plan children’s next steps. Talking together about what you are seeing children do, say and think helps to develop a shared understanding of child development and HOW children learn
  • ensure that there is a shared understanding of children’s development and progress which leads to consistency of practice; everyone knows the children well, tuning into what makes them ‘tick’ and supporting progress
  • build your tool kit knowledge and skills; the more you share your observations with colleagues, especially those who are well-experienced the more you will learn

help you to become more confident to make professionally informed judgements about children’s development

  • be an opportunity for reflection, which deepens your thinking and understanding, as well as helping you to confidently articulate children’s development and progress
  • strengthen your knowledge and understanding of where a child is in their developmental journey
  • lead to creative, informative and valuable ways of documenting children’s thinking and learning

Ways to include Moderation in everyday practice?

  • Using narrative observations which ‘tell the whole story’ of children’s thinking and learning, rather than a snap- shot. Sharing these with colleagues by discussing, analysing and interpreting what you see the children doing and saying. Sharing Learning Stories with the children adds a further dimension to moderation as the children talk about what they are doing, saying and thinking
  • Undertaking peer to peer observations (practitioners and teachers observing each other and their interactions with children) using cameras or film
  • Opportunities to talk about the children, their play, interests, fascinations and ideas. This often happens as part of the natural rhythm of the day as you are with the children
  • Talking with parents/ carers on an informal basis; sharing Learning Stories together ; gathering a home perspective of the child
  • Focussing on a certain children each week/session e.g. 5 focus children who the team ‘zone’ in on during the week. Making time to meet together to share thoughts
  • Professional development meetings; Key person meetings
  • Mentoring/supporting students and including them in team discussions; giving them feedback on their observations
  • Using White Boards or documentation boards to note down ‘in the moment’ observations about what children have said; their interests; who they are playing with; what they are playing with etc. This helps to spot patterns in children’s friendship groups; language development; well-being; involvement and behaviour. It is also a great way of keeping everyone in the loop and planning in the moment.
  • Tip: Always take a photograph of the board before you wipe it!