Guide to: Using ICT to evidence Pupil Premium impact

Deborah Fielden
Friday, April 26, 2019

Effective observations and assessments are not only essential for learning and completing the foundation stage profile but to also show evidence that the use of pupil premium funding is having a positive effect. In this guide Deborah Fielden explores how ICT can be used to ensure the regular and accurate tracking of progress for each individual child. This Guide to was produced in association with NurseryBook and published in 2016.

Key content

  • What is Early Years Pupil Premium?

  • Why is observation so important in providing early years provision that helps to narrow the disadvantage gap?

  • How ICT can be used to record and share observations that provide evidence for the impact of funding?

  • Case study: Le Nid Childcare – sharing learning journeys with parents and highlighting next steps to help close attainment gaps

Observing, assessing, tracking and planning to promote young children’s learning
By Deborah Fielden

In order to ensure that every child is able to make good progress, practitioners must implement a system that enables them to regularly identify and assess children’s levels of development, learning styles, interests and any possible areas of concern and barriers to learning. This information can then be used to plan effective, personalised learning opportunities to support further progress.

Another principle of effective early years practice is that of practitioners working in partnership with parents and carers to support their children’s learning. A wealth of research evidence indicates that parental involvement in their children’s learning has a very positive impact on their progress.

It follows that they should be closely involved in the system of observing, assessing and tracking used by a provider and of then identifying targets and planning suitable learning opportunities for their child to be provided both in the setting and at home.

In recent years, there has been a steady increase in the number of early years providers using ICT hardware and software to support this process. Once the initial costs of purchasing the resources and implementing the system have been borne, the benefits of using ICT over a paper system are clear and justify the investment. Evidence of children’s learning, in the form of photographs, videos and written observations, can be recorded quickly in individual electronic learning journeys and assessed with reference to achievement across the three prime and four
specific areas of learning and development; future developmental targets are then identified and provision planned.

The need for practitioners to spend time away from interacting with the children, transferring information and completing records, is much reduced. With a robust e-safety policy in place, these electronic records can be shared with parents and carers easily, which means that they are able to review their child’s progress and contribute their own knowledge on a regular basis. It is also provides a means for practitioners and parents to share ideas about the child’s next steps, as well as activities and resources, that they can use to promote this learning effectively.

Alongside the documentation of individual children’s learning, the use of software also enables accurate and regular tracking of the progress of both individual and groups of children from the moment they start at a setting.

Practitioners can produce data easily and in a format that enables them to analyse and monitor levels of development, amounts of progress made over time and areas of development in which children are struggling and not making the expected progress. is information can then be used within a cycle of quality improvement to develop provision and practice so that each child’s learning is promoted and supported more effectively.

Earlier this year, the Early Years Pupil Premium (EYPP) was introduced. This is a source of additional government funding for early years providers to support disadvantaged three and four-year-old children and to address the emerging gap in educational attainment between these children and their peers.

With the overall proviso that the funding must be used to promote better outcomes for the children for whom it is claimed, providers have freedom to decide how best to invest the money; it is recognised that they have the expert knowledge of factors contributing to the underachievement of their children. John Dunford, National Pupil Premium Champion, recommends that providers implement a balance of both long and short-term strategies.

Long-term strategies might include improving the overall quality of teaching and learning, for example, developing practitioners’ professional knowledge and skills through training and focusing on other areas, such as the quality of adult/ child interactions.

Finding ways of encouraging and supporting parents and carers to recognise their role as the most important educators of their children and to become involved in their children’s learning is likely to be another effective long-term strategy.

Short-term strategies need to respond to the individual needs and barriers to learning of the children for whom the funding is claimed. For example, if it is identified that children’s levels
of development within the area of Communication and language are poor, the money may be used to employ the services of a speech and language therapist to deliver specific language interventions and/or to train practitioners in their use. The money might also be used to fund particular initiatives and activities, and to purchase resources that are proven to promote development within a particular area of development, or even to ensure that children have their basic health and care needs met effectively and are, therefore, able to fully engage in the learning opportunities o ered at the setting.

Partnership working with other providers may also be a consideration, especially if the amount of funding received is small.

Providers are accountable for their use of EYPP funding and it is, therefore, vital that they are able to provide evidence and demonstrate that their investment is having a positive impact on the outcomes for the children. Within the ‘Effectiveness of leadership and management’ section of the Early Years Inspection Handbook (2015), it states that inspectors should obtain evidence of:
‘... how e ectively leaders use additional funding, including the early years pupil premium, and measure its impact on narrowing gaps in children’s outcomes' and: ‘ ... the effectiveness of the monitoring of children’s progress, and interventions where needed, to ensure that gaps are narrowing for groups of children or individual children identified as being in need of support.’

In order to provide this evidence and to demonstrate that the funding is having a positive impact, it is essential that the provider has a clear strategy for monitoring and reporting outcomes and that this strategy is backed up by a robust system of collecting and analysing data about all children for whom the funding is received. Managers need to provide evidence, backed up by data, that they:

  • Identify and analyse the children’s starting points.
  • Pinpoint the specific areas of concern and barriers to learning affecting the progress of these children.

  • Invest the money in strategies and resources to address these.

  • Continually monitor and analyse the children’s progress to ensure that the strategies being used are effective, dropping those that are not yielding results.  In order to ensure that the strategies and interventions really target the specific needs and circumstances of individual children, it is vital that providers include parents and carers in decision making at every stage of this process, giving them ownership and working in close partnership.

    Parents can provide valuable information about their child’s family life and circumstances, the learning and development that they observe at home and whether they think that the implemented strategies are having a positive impact on the purchase and use of ICT hardware and software that...

  • ...enables quick and easy collection of information about and assessment of individual children.

  • Transfers that information to a tracking system that demonstrates levels of development and progress over time.

  • Produces straightforward data that can be separated into sub-groups – for example, children in receipt of EYPP funding, that can be continually analysed and monitored, and;

  • Enables effective partnership working with parents/carers through the regular sharing of all information about their child’s development, progress, identified areas for EYPP investment and strategies used will undoubtedly ensure that managers can provide this evidence and use it as a basis for a professional discussion about how effectively they have invested the money.

Case studies demonstrating the use of specific strategies/resources and their impact on the outcomes for individual children will be clearly illustrated within their learning journeys and these can be backed up with the hard data from the associated tracking system. The focus of this funding is on narrowing the gap in attainment between disadvantaged children and their peers.
It follows, therefore, that the aim is for children in receipt of the pupil premium funding to make more rapid progress; this again can be clearly demonstrated by the production and analysis of data from sub- groups of children at the setting.

Referring to the Ofsted grade descriptors for the effectiveness of leadership and management, those for ‘Outstanding’ include: ‘Highly effective monitoring identifies where children may be slow to develop key skills so that specific programmes of support are implemented to help them catch up.

‘Gaps in achievement between different groups of children, especially those for whom the setting receives additional funding, are negligible or closing.’

It is crucial that leaders and managers who have not yet implemented a strategy and system for tracking and monitoring the attainment and progress of their children, in partnership with parents and carers, address this area of their practice quickly; this may include staff training in the handling and analysis of data.

It is evident that the use of a comprehensive ICT package to support the process of evidencing the impact of Early Years Pupil Premium has many benefits and will contribute to high standards and quality of provision.

Case study: Le Nid Childcare

Le Nid Childcare is a new brand in the childcare sector, providing early years education to a mix of both fee-paying and funded children since 2013. Le Nid means ‘the nest’, which forms the basis of the setting slogan, ‘where your child nestles in our care’. The team’s first setting is located in Southall, and they are in the process of opening a new setting in East Dulwich, London. e setting in Southall serves its community with a unique way of operating, offering flexibility and affordability along with quality. Parents’ reviews of the setting reflect their great satisfaction with their children’s development and the outstanding level of early years education.

Owner, Mrs Gaitree Cuppoor, says: ‘I want parents to associate Le Nid Childcare with quality education and ensure the setting operates as a mini-university, meaning children are encouraged to learn and play independently, as well as in a structured way through the team’s creative ideas.’

Gaitree is very proud of her staff team as they go that extra mile to meet all the children’s learning and development requirements. To promote home-setting links, staff members have been capturing every moment of the child’s learning journey on paper and sharing this with parents. However, this has proved time-consuming. To overcome this, Le Nid Childcare has introduced the NurseryBook EYFS app, following a strategic decision to move to a paperless approach. The amount of time taken up with paperwork has been reduced considerably, giving staff

more time to focus on the children’s educational development. NurseryBook is very user-friendly; making it quick and easy to capture high quality records of the children’s journey at the setting, which are then used for observations and for measuring milestones. At the end of the day, every parent receives an email detailing how their children have spent their time – from what they have eaten, to nappy changes or toileting.

With the introduction of the Early Years Pupil Premium (EYPP), Gaitree commented: ‘We have thought very carefully about what we should do with our EYPP funding and our plan is to invest in creative play and learning toys to support both the eligible children and the others in their learning journeys, to ensure they have a stimulating and fun time while they are with us.’

The setting is working to ensure that any funding it receives works hard, so these eligible children are in a position to start school on as equal a footing as possible. Gaitree has found the NurseryBook dashboard a very helpful tool to track their children’s development, to ensure the investment is making the planned impact.

In addition, the benefits regarding parent engagement, making it easy to share photos and observations, as well as suggesting activities to help children take their next steps, will make a marked difference for all children, including those eligible for EYPP funding. e setting will be able to follow how engaged parents are, which has a clear impact on their child’s attainment.

NurseryBook's intuitive app makes the early years experience better by focusing valuable time on a child's learning journey and increasing positive engagement. For more information or to sign up for a 30 day trial visit here


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