Lower School Assessment

In recent years there has been a growing focus on personalised learning and differentiated instruction in education. As practitioners strive to meet the diverse needs of their students, they must also ensure that they are accurately assessing their pupils’ progress and providing appropriate support. One assessment tool that has gained popularity in recent years is the Tapestry assessment system, specifically designed for young children in the Early Years Foundation Stage (EYFS). 

The Tapestry assessment system is a comprehensive and observational-based approach to assessing children’s development and learning in the early years. Tapestry was introduced to Hampstead Hill in 2021 and we are progressively enhancing the practitioners’ knowledge and use of the assessment platform.  

 The Tapestry assessment system is based on the belief that every child is unique and develops at their own pace. It is designed to be used by teachers and other early childhood professionals to gain a deeper understanding of a child’s strengths and areas for growth, including: 

  1. Personal, Social and Emotional Development 
  2. Communication and Language 
  3. Physical Development 
  4. Literacy Mathematics 
  5. Understanding the World 
  6. Expressive Arts and Design 

One of the key features of the Tapestry assessment system is its focus on observation-based assessment. Teachers are trained to observe and document children’s behaviour and interactions, for example during play or other structured classroom activities. This approach allows teachers to gain a more complete and accurate picture of a child’s development than using traditional assessment methods. Further, Tapestry enables Hampstead Hill’s practitioners to make faster and more meaningful assessment of their key children’s progress.  

A notable shift occurred during a 2021 EYFS revision when the Department for Education transformed the way assessments were conducted by teachers. The key objective of the revised EYFS update was to alleviate the undue burden of administrative work that had increasingly overwhelmed practitioners in recent years. In many instances educators were found to be investing more time in the construction of children’s progress records than actual face-to-face interaction and guidance. A failure to adhere to this new approach could attract scrutiny from the inspectorate upon their next visit. Consequently, the teachers at Hampstead Hill have begun using Tapestry, a digital documentation platform, to record students’ progress and development. This innovation not only informs their instructional planning but also allows parents to engage more effectively with their children’s educational journey. The shift is a clear testament to the evolving landscape of education, placing a higher value on direct teaching and parental involvement rather than on exhaustive paperwork. 

Alongside the individual progress monitoring on Tapestry, the practitioners at Hampstead Hill are also required to maintain an active presence on Homerun. This platform serves a complementary role, offering a more holistic perspective of classroom dynamics by capturing group activities or themed events, as opposed to the individualistic focus inherent in Tapestry. Through a combination of closely captured images and informative text, Homerun provides a window into the collective classroom experience. This contrast of approaches — individual progress on Tapestry and group dynamics on Homerun ensures a comprehensive understanding of each pupil’s learning journey, further enhancing the educational process. These platforms allow teachers to document and share the full spectrum of experiences happening within the classroom, connecting parents more closely with their children’s education, and providing them with a more complete view of their development. 

The EYFS instructs that parents are expected to engage with their children’s learning. Both Tapestry and Homerun facilitate that expectation and aim to ensure that doing so is accessible and meaningful. Whilst our practitioners work hard to meet the expectations of Hampstead Hill’s management and leadership in addition to that of the parents, we must be mindful that ideally we want our practitioners to be facilitating learning and not simply watching through the screen on an iPad. Therefore, the desire is for practitioners to prioritise facilitating learning and worry about capturing the progress after.  

If you are yet to login to Tapestry, please locate the activation email sent to you when you joined Hampstead Hill. If you experience difficulties locating this email, please email it@hampsteadhillschool.co.uk. Thank you.  

As reported in the last educational blog post, the practitioners’ observational assessments are recorded on Tapestry and then monitored by management in termly Supervision Meetings. During these meetings the line manager and practitioner review the development of each child and the distribution of progress across the seven areas within the EYFS is scrutinised. Any findings are then recorded and subsequently inform upcoming planning.  

Overall, the Tapestry assessment system is a valuable tool for early childhood practitioners who are committed to providing personalised and differentiated instruction to their students. By using observation-based assessment and providing teachers with comprehensive resources and support, Tapestry can help ensure that every child receives the individualised attention and support they need to reach their full potential, thus further enhancing the high attainment and wellbeing of all children in our care.