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Parent Guide to OPAL

What do we want for our children at Woodcroft?

At Woodcroft we know that what happens in the early years lasts for a lifetime.

We aim for Woodcroft Nursery School to be a place of possibilities where children will be nurtured, where their individual interests and talents will be valued and developed.

As a result, we hope that children’s well-being will be high. They will have a belief in themselves and their abilities. They will know that they are loved, that they are strong, capable and unique. They will have resilience and the perseverance to keep on trying when things are challenging.

We want children to have the confidence to try new things, to take risks and be physically active. We want children to be able to communicate their ideas, beliefs and feelings, choosing different ways to do this. Some children will choose to dance, others to build or draw or sing. They will have experienced and remembered a wide range of words through stories, rhymes and poems. They will have the skills to make friends and will show kindness to others. They will know how to look after themselves, their friends, their school and the environment.

They will know about important mathematical and scientific concepts. They will have an understanding and respect of the world around them and the wider world. In essence, we aim for children to leave Woodcroft Nursery School being ‘Ready to Learn, Resourceful, Reflective, Reciprocal and Resilient’. Thus ready for their next stage in their education and beyond.


How do we observe children and monitor progress?

At Woodcroft Nursery School we follow the BEYA developed model of effective, meaningful and principled assessment of young children’s learning.

 By effective, we mean a method of assessment that ensures that all children are supported in reaching significant milestones.

By meaningful, we mean that the observations made inform our everyday practice and curriculum. By gaining an insight into children’s thinking, feeling and needs we can plan our environment and actions to provide future possibilities for learning.

By principled, we mean that our focus is on observing to understand children. We will not test children or seek unnecessary knowledge. Children are recognised as individuals, not as a percentage in a pie chart.

We will not spend unnecessary amounts of time writing observations or gathering evidence of children’s learning. We believe that if we are capturing the moment, we cannot be part of the moment. Instead we have structures in place that enable us to regularly discuss each child as a team and with their family.


Observation of Play and Learning (OPAL)

Your child’s learning will be closely monitored in collaboration with you to ensure they are supported to reach significant milestones for their age.

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.

We know that not all children will have ‘typical’ development. OPAL allows us to tell and celebrate each child’s story and focus on the support they need from us. 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.

OPAL follows a simple, three step cycle:


OPAL Spotlight → Meet with Parents → Review and reflect

What to expect?

There will be many opportunities throughout the year for us to come together to talk about your child and their learning.

Welcome: - When your child joins us at nursery, you will be invited to a Welcome meeting, where you will be given all the information you need to support your child’s start to nursery and to explain our ways of observing children.

Settling in: Within the first term after your child has started nursery, we will meet with you to talk about how your child has settled in and to share some examples of your child’s learning at nursery. We will look at the child development milestones together.

Spotlight: Each child will have two ‘spotlight’ points in the year. We will invite you in to nursery to share the spotlight and talk about your child’s learning and development.

Learning Journals: Ongoing observations of your child throughout the year will be shared on an online system called Learning Journals. There is also the option to contribute to your child’s profile, where you can add photos or descriptions of significant moments in your child’s development that you would like to share with us.

Keeping in touch: If you need to contact your child’s key person, you can send a message through the Famly app to keep us up to date of any important information about your child.


We look forward to working with you, providing happy times and a happy childhood