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    Observation, assessment and planning practices in a children's centre

    Giardiello, Patricia, McNulty, Joanne and Anderson, Babs (2013) Observation, assessment and planning practices in a children's centre. Child Care in Practice, 19 (2). pp. 118-137. ISSN 1357-5279

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    This paper reports on the research process and findings of a commissioned study of a Sure Start Children's Centre based in the North West of England. The study focused specifically on how child observations were being carried out in the Children's Centre to inform assessment and planning. It was imperative that the research process should not be perceived as something being “done” to staff of the Children's Centre but as one in which there was a willing engagement with a view to making use of the research findings to build on their own practice. The led to the practitioners starting a cycle of action research themselves that informed the implementation of new approaches in the carrying out of child observations. It was useful for the research team to relate this course of action both to a personal and practical dimension so that practitioners could be supported in their own research-informed practice. This study identified that the practitioners are open to new ideas and are willing and eager to explore new procedures to facilitate effective practice. While the current process of observation, assessment and planning that is being followed for individual children is encouraging, it has its limitations because some children may not be observed on a regular basis and therefore information about their current needs, interests and abilities may be missed. The use of observations to assess children's progress is seen by most of the practitioners as a challenge. This study has revealed important insights into the ways in which outsider researchers can inspire early years practitioners to reflect upon their own practice and provision.

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