At last it has been acknowledged (by the EYFS review)! Paperwork has been seen to be getting in the way of practice in early years. Well, many of us knew that already. I’ve been in settings where practitioners use clipboards almost as a weapon, daring me to comment on them. They’ve become the tool of effective practice for some, enabling a whole host of written observations to be completed, yet they’re a barrier – a wall between the practitioner and the child, to others.
I think some of this focus on paperwork has occurred because of the national temperament. We tend to follow procedures and routines, sometimes even when they cost us common sense.
That’s what has happened to the frantic paper gathering for EYFSP portfolios, and it happened with younger children too, as we tracked their progress against a whole range of statements.
We’ve been providing proof with paperwork. Yet what was needed was for the observations to inform practice; and to support and enable children to move on. This links to practitioners’ reflections on what they see and carries on into what they intend to do, rather than what they’ve written down about the child and filed away!