EYFS teachers: what is your criteria for exceeding in writing?

(72 Posts)
Iamnotminterested Wed 31-Jul-13 10:45:00

The posts about the new EYFS bandings seem to have created a fair bit of confusion, angst and wide differences between schools and LAs as to what constitutes emerging, expected or exceptional writing standards.

What in your view fits the latter? A properly punctuated story? A couple of sentences albeit properly spelt and punctuated?

Genuine question, genuinely interested.

Periwinkle007 Wed 31-Jul-13 11:06:56

not a teacher but my daughter was given exceeding for her writing. She writes poetry unaided and knows different types of poems, realising it does't have to rhyme etc, knows limericks and so on. She writes stories, using speech marks, full stops, sometimes commas, always apostrophes correctly both for ownership and missing letters. She wrote up a science experiment unaided about ice and floating, she also wrote a recipe for making bread unaided (having made it in class). She also wrote a Christmas play unaided.
spelling isn't always correct but she can do most of the non regular words correctly and other words are always completely phonetically plausible and understandable. Handwriting is a bit messy.

simpson Wed 31-Jul-13 13:10:18

DD writes stories with a beginning, middle and an end and uses capital letters, full stops some exclamation marks and question marks (in the correct place although the question marks are sometimes the wrong way round like a c - wonder if its because she is left handed). She writes basic poetry and also illustrates her stories with drawings and gives the stories a title and writes the blurb on the back.

Her spelling is pretty good although will spell a word phonetically if she does not know it. Her handwriting is very neat (her 7 yr old brother could take some tips!) and she is starting to write cursively (off her own bat, it is not taught till yr2).

However she did not get exceeding because her school expects them to be working at NC level 2C (she is a borderline 1A/2C depending on her mood!!) and also because she does not do any non fiction writing ie reports.

squiby2004 Wed 31-Jul-13 13:37:38

For me to give exceeding:

Can form all letters both upper and lower case correctly.
Can form all numerals correctly
Understands that we write from left to right and start at the top of the page and write down
Beginning to think about how to spell phonetically ( doesn't need to be spelt correctly)
Can share ideas and then write some of them down independently
Capital letters at start of sentence and for names. Full stops used correctly.

But I would also look at other areas in class such sax drawing/painting/colouring in and how that child communicates and describes their work to me during our interactions.

ninah Wed 31-Jul-13 13:42:54

You see I'd have put a child like that down as expected, squeeby, and I wouldn't use anecdotal oral evidence to support the writing element of literacy, more for the communication and language areas.
It just shows how open to interpretation it all is.

ninah Wed 31-Jul-13 13:43:31

sorry, squiby!(just call me emerging)

Periwinkle007 Wed 31-Jul-13 14:00:04

I would agree with ninah - although I am not a teacher I would have said what squiby describes is expected not exceeding. To me exceeding really has to be doing a lot more than that and communicating about work is just that, communication and language. Writing surely is just what is written down.

mrz Wed 31-Jul-13 14:25:32

I haven't used the new profile but with the old profile I expected children to be able to write for different purposes - stories, poems, instructions, reports etc independently using capital letters, full stops and that their work could be read by anyone and that it flows and makes sense. Letters formed correctly, sitting on the lines, left to right top to bottom and about a side of A4 (wide lines) min.

simpson Wed 31-Jul-13 14:39:20

Lost a big post hmm

Basically saying that I would have thought it is a lot more than what the child has actually written down ie can they read it back to someone.

Also I would have thought that speaking and listening play a big part too, speaking (to be able to re-tell a story in their own words) listening (to have the attention span to listen to a story being read, follow instructions and not get bored halfway through a task).

I would have thought that getting exceeding in one area (as my DD did) is a bit questionable as surely she would have higher level skills in other areas to get her one exceeding? (Although I am talking about reading not writing but I would have thought the same principal applies).

mrz Wed 31-Jul-13 14:47:55

Speaking and listening and reading are separate areas.

However I would expect exceeding in S&L if a child was to obtain it in reading and writing because of language skills needed.

Periwinkle007 Wed 31-Jul-13 15:11:32

Simpson - I meant that the writing score should really just be based on their writing, they can't be made up to exceeding in writing based on what they can verbalise about what they were trying to write, the communicating is a separate category.

Like mrz says though you would definitely expect a child with exceeding in reading or writing to have exceeding in Speaking, Listening and attention and understanding (or at least some of them) because the skills are so linked, doesn't obviously work the other way round.

simpson Wed 31-Jul-13 16:32:54

Mrz - I know they are different skills (amongst the 17) but yes you put it better than me. For a child to get exceeding in either reading or writing then I would have thought a child would do very well in either the speaking or the listening skills.

Makes me even more hmm about my DD's report...

simpson Wed 31-Jul-13 16:34:30

And isn't there are skill for imagination too?? Or is that awareness of the world around them?

simpson Wed 31-Jul-13 16:36:23

Peri - I don't think the writing score should be based in just what they write actually. It should be linked into how they discuss what they are writing, whether they can read it back, whether they know the meaning of the words they have written.

mrz Wed 31-Jul-13 16:41:04

In the old profile there were certain ELG you couldn't award unless a child had also achieved x,y &z ELGs too. There aren't any such limits on the new profile even though common sense suggests there are connections and each is judged separately

simpson Wed 31-Jul-13 16:47:54

I know that obviously they are totally different to NC levels but DS (yr3) in order to go up to the next sub level in numeracy has to show skills that are nothing to do with how good he is at actual numeracy (quite rightly so can I add).

I've worked as a teacher, mainly in nursery classes a few years ago. And more recently as a TA in a reception class, and also in pre-schools.
As a general impression it seems from all the above posts that an awful lot is expected of our 4/5 year olds by the end of their reception year.
I did find that there was quite a lot of pressure on the children regarding their literacy development in my recent work in reception.
I'm concerned especially for those whose writing is indeed at an emergent stage - something I think would once have been considered normal for children in nursery and reception classes.

I feel the new push for such early phonics and literacy skills acquistion is at the detriment of a full exploration of learning through play, and the development of other fundamental learning and social skills, which should form a strong foundation for later learning.

I know the OP is specifically about what you would look for to give an 'exceptional' for writing standards, but I hope everyone is remembering the needs of their emergent writers too!

I love to see an interesting and creative bit of emergent writing myself!

missmapp Wed 31-Jul-13 16:56:18

Ds2 was given expected in writing and can do what squiby shared. At my school, children who are given expected will , generally, start yr 1 as a 1c- so would the expected level be individual to the child or a standard 2c or something- because squiby's standard does not make a 2c!!

missmapp Wed 31-Jul-13 16:57:03

Sorry- would the exceeded level be a 2c'. I am not exceeding at all !!

squiby2004 Wed 31-Jul-13 17:28:30

What I posted is a basic list and you have to use professional judgement to accompany it. As an EYFS team you should then moderate because it is subject to interpretation.

Hellocleaveland Wed 31-Jul-13 18:35:44

Following a double moderation of writing ( we went back for more because we really wanted to make sure we were judging correctly!) our 4 form entry Reception only gave one 'exceeding' for writing. It was levelled at a 2c by the moderators. I wanted to give one child in my class 'exceeding' because she can write several, extended sentences in different contexts, spells all key words consistently accurately, spells complex words phonetically, uses a wide and varied vocabulary, accurate punctuation (capital letters, full stops, question marks). I used to teach Year 1 for many years and would have put her at a 1a. The moderators judged her to be a 'high expected'.

ninah Wed 31-Jul-13 18:40:12

That sounds much more in line with what happened at my school, cleaveland. I was externally moderated, also.

intheshed Wed 31-Jul-13 19:28:39

<whispers> but what does it matter now? They will be in Y1 in just over a month and all talk of expected/exceeding will be forgotten. Let it go!

Pozzled Wed 31-Jul-13 19:42:57

It is mad that schools can judge so differently. DD1 was given 'exceeding' for writing. Using my school assessment framework she'd just be a 1b. She can:

Write for a range of different (but simple) purposes e.g writes notes to her friends, signs, a 'to do' list.
Spells mostly phonetically, but some common tricky words and a few more complex ones are correct.
Uses capitals for 'I' and a few names.
Usually uses full stops, but no capital letters for sentences.
Produces 3-4 sentences independently; I haven't seen more than that.
Writing is on the line, most (but not all) letters correctly formed, spacing is good.

She should be firmly in the 'expected' category. On paper, the school has made her out to be some kind of genius- all but two ELGs are 'exceeding'. They seem to be one of the few schools that are judging their Reception children far too leniently.

It concerns me because 1) it seems to indicate that their expectations are set very low and 2) I don't trust their judgements so it's harder for me to see which areas she actually needs support in.

Periwinkle007 Wed 31-Jul-13 19:52:01

but is it wrong for a 1b to be classed as exceeding in reception? I think that is the question. To me if that is the average level at the end of Yr1 then to be achieving that consistently (as it is supposed to be consistent not once isn't it?) is exceeding the EYFS - or should be IMO.

I misread Squiby's post as being that she would award an exceeding if a child 'could communicate what they had tried to write not but hadn't actually written' rather than 'discussed what they had written to show true understanding' so that is why I was seeing them as completely separate skills

and yes one is for something like 'being imaginative' I think.

simpson Wed 31-Jul-13 19:54:49

I think what is bothering me about it is that yes certain LEAs are giving different guidelines but schools within the same LEA assessing totally differently just seems a bit hmm

simpson Wed 31-Jul-13 19:58:18

Peri - a 1B is not the average level for end of yr1 but the expected level (for some schools, my DC school want a 1A in reading).

PookBob Wed 31-Jul-13 20:04:13

My son is currently in Nursery and will be for another year. When I spoke to his teacher at the end of term I enquired about when he and his class would start blending phonics (CVC etc) and I was informed that they would not start this until the summer term of his reception year.

I'm now really confused reading this thread.... If he doesn't even start blending phonics until the end of reception all these literacy goals are completely unachieveable surely?

How could his school's timetable be so different to what is explained here? Any ideas?

Pozzled Wed 31-Jul-13 20:04:15

Periwinkle I don't think it's necessarily wrong for a 1b child to be exceeding, but I do think it's wrong for schools to be applying such wildly different standards.

Intheshed I do know what you mean and to a certain extent I really don't care what words are assigned to DD1- they won't change her skills or abilities! But I do think that it can cause problems when people start to make inferences from the categories. I'm worried that DD1's school is thinking 'oh, that child is exceeding, she's doing really well so we don't need to worry about her'. Another parent seeing DD1's report could be seriously misled about how she is performing.

Pozzled Wed 31-Jul-13 20:11:00

PookBob Are you sure they didn't mean the summer term before they go into reception? They wouldn't be able to fulfil the expectations of the new EYFS if they left phonics so late. It does seem very strange.

simpson Wed 31-Jul-13 20:12:56

I would agree with pozzled, as that's when DD was taught phonics at nursery (after Easter).

Most schools get stuck in from the very beginning of the school year although it can take a while for reading books to come home.

PookBob Wed 31-Jul-13 20:26:40

Thank you for replying, I really hope you are right!

I am certain they said the summer of reception year as they wanted the class to all be at the same point with regards to recognising alphabet etc, at which point I asked if they would start earlier with any children who were confident, and I was told not.

The school he attends is in a very deprived area and has just come out of 'special measures', if that is the right term. Could this affect the speed at which children are taught?

Periwinkle007 Wed 31-Jul-13 20:28:52

oh is 1b expected at the end of Yr1 then? in which case surely it SHOULD be exceeding at the end of reception, even if they do want to change things a bit.

I agree Pozzled - I think it is completely ridiculous for them to vary so much but that doesn't make it wrong for children to be marked as exceeding at a 1b just because some schools have set the bar higher (quite wrongly I personally think)

I would hope no school would take the approach of 'that child is exceeding so she is fine' as I thought they were supposed to ensure each child makes progress but I can see where you are coming from.

A school which has the bar set higher will end up with lots of children in expected but with the most enormous range of ability.

At the end of the day the reception teachers will hopefully pass the ACTUAL ability on to the Yr1 teachers and they will build on it probably taking absolutely no notice whatsoever about the levels in the EYFS.

simpson Wed 31-Jul-13 20:37:09

Well, if the school has done the EYFS assessments correctly then the yr1 teachers should have been involved in the gradings.

They weren't in my DC school because the EYFS Head is a KS1 teacher (usually yr1) some years.

Pozzled Wed 31-Jul-13 20:44:55

I hope you're right Periwinkle. I have been waiting all year for the school to take a real interest in progress- they treat reception very much as settling in and seem to see any learning (at least in numeracy and literacy) as a nice bonus. I expect things may change in yr 1.

The teacher DD1 will have next year is new to the school, so won't have been involved in moderating with this class. I'll be interested to see how things go.

Periwinkle007 Wed 31-Jul-13 20:55:41

hopefully a new teacher might be coming in with lots of ideas from elsewhere...

My daughter's teacher for next year is apparently very good which is a relief as her teacher this year was good (and my other daughter is about to have her). I was worried at first that she didn't seem to be being challenged or given the opportunity to do work at her level but having seen her work now they certainly really picked up the pace in the summer term and have been able to see what she is able to do and give her things that were right for her. I think many schools see reception more as settling in and I suppose that is what it is designed to be. I suppose whilst some may tread water academically they get the exposure to the other skills so it all balances out.

I know Yr1 were involved with it in our school across both classes so 2 yr1 teachers and 2 reception teachers.

simpson Wed 31-Jul-13 21:27:02

DD's reception year has been very high ability so they have been pushed/extended quite a bit ie guided reading, in writing and in numeracy.

She has a very good teacher next year with a small group of the highest ability kids all together (so no pressure on the teacher then!!) so fingers X it should be a good year for DD. I know they are starting the "big write" in yr1 which does not normally happen till yr 2.

Yr1 seems to be a bit of a funny year in my DC school and they don't have a great track record on yr1 teachers, the current yr2s had 6 yr1 teachers in one year as they all were either pants or kept leaving shock but this is DD's yr1 teachers second year at the school and she seems very good (I read with her kids this past school year).

DS has a brand new teacher to the school that he has not met yet (yr4) which I am a bit nervous about but as he is that much older it should be ok...

Littlefish Wed 31-Jul-13 22:16:15

We we're externally moderated this year and were told by our Local Authority Adviser that in order to achieve an "exceeding" judgement, children should be writing consistently at a 1b level.

BabiesAreLikeBuses Wed 31-Jul-13 23:47:59

I'd level my dts writing at 1b and both got exceeding. They both do as per pozzled's list but with capital letters consistently to start sentences. Dtd spells many words correctly and uses apostrophes too. Dts has beautiful cursive handwriting.
Dtd likes writing poetry esp rhyming and uses description like 'the diamong sparkled like the moon' without help. Dts hasn't written since school ended apart from a huge amount of text messages to his dad!
Personally i think it's ridiculous to only give it out at 2c, that's gifted rather than able - and able means they exceed your expectations!

RiversideMum Thu 01-Aug-13 07:55:58

I gave exceeding to children who could write independently, forming their own sentences and using full stops and capital letters. I looked for lots of CI writing and a variety of contexts.

To my knowledge ds has done absolutely no phonics in preschool.
He does know letter sounds and can CVC because I've taught him but I don't think they've done any with him.

I am slightly traumatised that he has to be using full stops and capital letters by this time next year when he will barely be 5. It's too little I think.

Periwinkle007 Thu 01-Aug-13 18:45:54

Stillhopingstillthere - he will be fine to be using full stops and capital letters by then I am sure

being able to do cvc words before he starts school will still be ahead of quite a lot of children. many preschools will start doing some phonics from January but on the whole I don't think that many actually REALLY move on to cvc words. They may mention them and bright children may pick them up but I was under the impression they only did initial phonics so if your son is able to do that already then he will be well away once they start teaching at school.

You will be amazed how quickly children can pick writing up.

I still feel it is early, at least for some children.

I feel there should be other priorities as well during the reception year.

Though I suppose this thread is concentrating on the "above expectation" or "exceeding expectation" level.

I'm glad when mine were in reception that emergent writing was considered sufficient, alongside other developing learning and social skills.

There's not always as much to be gained as people imagine from doing things at an earlier age.

Periwinkle007 Thu 01-Aug-13 19:06:44

It still is emergent writing though, children were always encouraged to use full stops and capital letters around this age.

It may be too early for some children but I would think for the majority it is the right time by the summer of reception and surely we can't expect the majority of children not to do something because for some children it is too early? Out of my daughter's friends who I am sure are a complete range of ability and certainly include the oldest and the youngest in the class (49 weeks apart) I think they can all write a simple sentence and use a full stop, even those who can't read very well.

I think there is plenty of time given to socialising, learning through exploring, playing, using imagination and so on. My daughter's classroom only has tables and chairs for 1 group at a time to use them so they can't spend very much time sitting down doing 'proper' work. I think the balance is pretty good, my daughter would have preferred more actual sitting down and learning but she is older and was ready for that, however she has enjoyed all the activities she has done.

Your daughter's class sounds good Periwinkle
I think some don't have the right balance though.

A couple of sentences about something the child is interested in may be (consistently) achievable for many by the end of reception.
(I think capital letters and full stops aren't a major priority at this stage)

But I think it's whether the child has a genuine interest in each task that is part of the problem.

simpson Thu 01-Aug-13 19:29:36

In the reception class I help in (not my DC school) most kids can write a very basic sentence but may not remember capital letters/full stops.

However I would say about a third cannot but can write all the letters unaided.

I don't know about my DD's class but I think the ability varies massively.

See I think that's something that Gove et al. don't necessarily appreciate - especially with all their talk of "expected levels"

... different children can demonstrate a wide range of ability in writing, and especially when so young this won't necessarily be a predictor of future ability - they may just be following a different learning/writing trajectory, or they may be younger than others in the class for example.

mrz Thu 01-Aug-13 19:46:21

It isn't meant to be a predictor of future ability just a snapshot of their development at the end of EYFS ...

It never is simply a "snapshot" though is it mrz ? - in my experience the whole assessment process has changed what is perceived as best practice, and added enormously to the stress on both staff and children.

Periwinkle007 Thu 01-Aug-13 20:03:03

they aren't saying though that based on their scores in the EYFS they will decide who is allowed to go to university. They are purely an indication of what the child is capable of when they finish in reception.

mrz Thu 01-Aug-13 20:07:40

Your experience is very different to my own

simpson Thu 01-Aug-13 20:09:47

I thought the EYFS scores at the end of reception help predict KS1 SATS scores? At least this is I have been told...

Which means that they are a prediction of future ability (all be it, in 2 yrs time, not how academic a child will be at 18 obviously!!)

Tell me more about your experiences with the introduction and changes in the EYFS ?
I accept my comments are largely due to my experiences and observations in one class.

mrz Thu 01-Aug-13 20:17:28

I taught reception for many years and I will be teaching Y1 in Sept so have had EYFS input from the other side so to speak. The purpose is to identify where a child is developmentally at the end of reception so that Y1 teachers have a clear picture of what children need to progress not to label them for life because of a piece of paper when they are just 5.

Well I hope ds becomes more interested in writing by then! At the moment he has zero interest beyond writing his name. Badly. In large letters.

Ah, but his name is important to him Stillhoping - so, a good start in my book.
I'd still give him a gold star flowers

mrz Thu 01-Aug-13 20:40:36

As a reception teacher I would have been very happy for children who could write their name in large letters when they first start. It is unusual for our pupils to be writing names independently or knowing any sounds in nursery.

Periwinkle007 Thu 01-Aug-13 20:42:56

that sounds perfectly normal at that age stillhoping.

simpson Thu 01-Aug-13 20:44:32

My DS could not even read his name let alone write it when he started reception.

kitchendiner Thu 01-Aug-13 20:49:52

As the parent of a dyslexic DS, I would say, please don't muddle up correct punctuation, spelling and high Key Stage Levels with flair, imaginative and original writing - they are totally separate skills.

testedpatience Thu 01-Aug-13 20:52:17

What would be the expected level at the end of Yr1 if Ds received emerging in all 17 areas of development.

He can write his name (badly) but couldnt make a sentence or spell out words independently. He has just started blending but doesnt recognise any tricky words. The school have said he is doing fine and they are very pleased with his progressconfused

He does have SEN but gets absolutely no support other than small group phonics sessions with other DC so i dont know if i should push for more. He has Mild Cerebral palsy, Global development delay and speech and language disorder but the school are insistent he doesnt need additional support.

I read threads like these and feel intense panic that i'm not fighting his corner hard enough!

I don't know what would be predicted for the end of Y1 patience - but I hope you can be proud and pleased that ds can write his name and all the other progress he's made this year. School are pleased with his progress so that's good.
As I think I said before I do feel that too much stress on expected levels can be unhelpful to some children and families.

My son got exceeding for writing, and his teacher wrote in his report pretty much what mrz said.

He enjoys writing in different forms including wanted posters, lists, letters, and information pages. His work can be read by himself and others. He spells a growing amount of words accurately and makes phonetically plausible attempts at many more. He is trying very hard to make his letters smaller.

mrz Fri 02-Aug-13 08:58:47

The EYFS profile should not be used to predict KS1 levels and the Y1 teacher should be working to help him make as much progress as he can over the next year...it's surprising what another year means in terms of maturity.

simpson Fri 02-Aug-13 10:57:50

But I thought all kids have a target for KS1 SATS before starting yr1.

I know DD does (but not what it is).

DS (just finishing yr3) has a target for yr6 given by the school (only know his numeracy one).

I guess these targets are not set in stone as in DS's case he finished reception significantly behind in everything (except reading) and as you say matured greatly in yr1 so I guess his end of yr2 target would have changed.

mrz Fri 02-Aug-13 11:25:55

When your son was in reception there was clear guidance from the National Assessment Authority sent to all schools, LEAs, SIPs and OFSTED stating that EYFS Profile scores should not be used to set targets or the predict future attainment. The current profile states that it's purpose is

The primary purpose of the EYFS Profile is to provide a reliable, valid and accurate assessment of individual children at the end of the EYFS.

The primary uses of EYFS Profile data are to:
inform parents/carers about their child’s development against early learning goals (ELGs) and the characteristics of their learning;

support a smooth transition to Key Stage 1 by informing the professional dialogue between EYFS and Key Stage 1 teachers;
and
help Year 1 teachers plan an effective, responsive and appropriate curriculum that will meet the needs of all children.

not to set targets

simpson Fri 02-Aug-13 14:34:13

So if a reception aged child (DD) has already had her KS1 targets set (was told this by the school in May) what is used to set them?

<genuine question>

Wafflenose Fri 02-Aug-13 15:33:46

Not sure - but it seems a daft thing to do. They should be setting targets for next term, and setting new ones when she reaches those. They know full well that children learn in fits and starts, and some will progress faster than others.

mrz Fri 02-Aug-13 15:45:50

Targets should be assessment for learning (things the child needs to learn/skills they need to develop) not levels unfortunately some schools buy into the level culture lock stock and barrel rather than looking at the steps.

simpson Fri 02-Aug-13 16:27:11

As I don't know what they are (nor do I want to) I cannot comment!

They (the school) have said that DD may not make much progress (on paper) in reading as she has to mature a bit.

I would assume that the targets are not set in stone as the kids are only 5!!

mrz Fri 02-Aug-13 16:56:17

No target is set in stone no matter the age of the child

I only take a passing interest in the targets set for my children. I have my own targets for them.

Things like get into a good school, and go to University. A few other things along the way too.

Sometimes I notice when the targets aren't what I think they could achieve - for example DDs was set rather low in PE I felt - actually she's quite sporty, active, and competitive. They just haven't noticed.

I don't think setting a target makes a lot of difference. Providing a stimulating environment with good teaching and learning support is much more important I think. IMHO children are rather unpredictable with regard to their rates of progress.

Good though for the children to understand what their next steps in learning and achievement would be. I think that area has come on a lot since I was at school.

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