Find out about our, Observation of Play And Learning (OPAL) assessment tool!
Opal; A precious stone whose colour changes depending on you view point. A gem that comes in many shimmering colours!
Quote from OPAL; ‘What we are trying to do is ensure is that our schools are ‘places of possibility’. Places in which children and childhood are valued.’
OPAL puts the child at the centre and more emphasis on the practical side of staff being present in supporting children's learning. OPAL ensures that our time is mainly spent with the children, getting to know them, creating bonds, playing and interacting.
We also know the value, importance and benefits of parent partnerships. We understand that as parents you know your child best. The OPAL system ensures that parents are part of the process throughout, working in close collaboration with staff about your child’s learning.
So how OPAL works;
Milestones – what the children are assessed against
Opal works on the basis of having very simple, six-monthly child developmental milestones, which we use to monitor children’s development. These milestones reflect what we believe a ‘typical’ child, should be able to achieve.
Spotlights – assessment document
The observations and assessments that we make are called ‘spotlights’. We observe children’s innovation, their creativity, their ideas, their intents and feelings. The insight that we gain enables us to discuss, reflect and plan our environment to support and shape future learning.
The ‘spotlights’ are spread out, making it fairer for the child, as they are being assessed against the age-related milestones, not a best fit judgement in a wide age-band. We want to shift the focus to the child, not the assessment. The assessment is a quick look at whether a child is meeting their age related milestones and if not, having discussions, thinking about why and planning what to do. When children are meeting milestones, we can think about their individual development holistically, thinking about what we can do to inspire and challenge them further.
When it is time for your child to have their bi-annual spotlight you will receive a private message via Famly (App system) from your child’s key worker. This message will invite you to participate in your child’s spotlight, gaining your point of view. As we know all parents have different commitments, free time, schedules so we give you 3 different options to choose which is best for you; a ‘parent’s evening’ style meeting, where you can meet in person, have a chat to the key worker and discuss your child’s development, you can schedule a phone conversation, or you can write your response via private message on Famly.
We review a ‘spotlight’ two months later as the final part of the cycle. At this time, we reflect on the child’s progress so far and what we have achieved. Have the learning opportunities and experiences planned taken place? Have they had a positive impact? This again gives us the opportunity to think, to review, to tell the child’s story.
In summary what to expect;
- A Starting Point/2 Year Assessment a few weeks after your child starts
- 2 Spotlight assessments a year – Parent Comment
- To be updated when the spotlights have been reviewed
- A few observations of your child per half term
- Posts on what we are getting up to here at nursery
- Staff giving the children their full attention, passion and support
An example of a completed Spotlight --->