Assessing progress in reception


In today's classrooms, children are constantly being assessed. The teachers and assistants are always aware of the children and are watching them as they work and play to see where they are making progress, what the difficulties are and when it is appropriate for an adult to teach the child something new.

We call it 'assessment for learning' because these frequent observational assessments can be used to determine how well a child is doing. This is particularly true in the Early Years (Nursery and Reception) when the children are too young for formal 'tests'.

Children in English schools begin work on the National Curriculum when they start Year 1. Before that, they follow the Early Years Foundation Stage curriculum (EYFS), which focuses on children's progress in six areas of development:

  • Personal, social and emotional development
  • Communication, language and literacy
  • Mathematical development
  • Knowledge and understanding of the world
  • Creative development
  • Physical development

 Young children ordering numbered boxes

Learning journeys

During the Nursery and Reception years, teachers gather evidence of children's progress through observation notes, photographs, photocopied work and so on. You never see a Reception teacher without a pad of notepaper nearby.

This evidence is collected for each child in a document called 'Learning journey'. Learning journeys should be available to all parents to look at during the reception year.

Stepping stones and the Early Years profile

In addition to the evidence in the learning journey, the class teacher keeps a constant record of each child's progress against a list of statements. These statement form 'stepping stones' on the way to the Early Learning goals.

At the end of Reception, the teacher will fill in a form listing how many stepping stones the child has achieved in each of the six areas. Parents will be given a copy of this information.

The aim is for a child to score between six and nine stepping stones for each area. Evidence from national data shows that children who score between six and nine stepping stones in all areas are likely to be successful at GCSE and beyond. 


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Last updated: 2 months ago