Are you missing something important with your tracking?

So you know well the extraordinary investment of time, energy and finances that is currently invested in tracking children's progress.

But what if we were missing something REALLY important?

I think we are.  

We have huge concerns about rising problems of child mental health and concerns to raise educational outcomes, with huge numbers of adults being driven to monitor more and more details of what children are doing.   

But believe it or not this massive industry is are not tracking the foundations of healthy child development.  

So, with the support of health visitors and health services, parents of newborns through to school age are given some support - dwindling - to monitor their child's progress through developmental milestones.

Then, however, when children arrive in the Early Years Foundation Stage, the detailed tracking of the strands of child development reduces dramatically.  Soon after, when the child transfers to Reception and to Key Stage 1, the tracking of a child's acquisition of key development milestones abruptly stops, to be replaced with an exclusive focus on the acquisition of literacy and numeracy skills.  For all but the child with the most severe difficulties, this is regardless of whether the child has mastered the steps necessary to thrive in school or not.

It's extraordinary, but it's true.  

We stop systematic tracking and we stop paying attention to such important issues as the child's attention skills, or their fine motor skills or their ability to understand and manage emotions, or their ability to understand another person.

We stop paying attention to parental confidence or parental understanding of what children need.  And, because we insist that teachers pay so much attention to the acquisition of literacy and numeracy we stop asking teachers to learn and be mindful of how children develop.   

We fail to teach our teachers that children learn best in the context of relationships 

And then we appear surprised that children seem to be struggling...

Let me get this clear, I am not a fan of the obsessive level of target tracking that we have today.  It seems to mean adults are becoming less and less able to see the real needs of the children sat in front of them, but it would help perhaps if we could became aware of what is not being tracked that is of huge importance to the rest...

Our Action Research Group set off this week to explore the results of checking out the progress of some older children using tools that are usually used to assess progress in the Early Years Foundation Stage.   What do you think they will find?

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