Senior staff have better things to do than check practitioners work – don’t they?

spark allows very quick EYFS observations with automatic cross-referencing.  There isn’t, therefore, interruptions between the child and the educator.  Also, they can spend all their time with the children.

spark has always strived to provide an excellent system to give balance.  The balance between observations links to Areas of Learning and the Characteristics of Effective Learning (and other frameworks).  To help practitioners (whatever their level of ability) and parents (who often just want their child to walk, talk, write, read and count – without recognising the journey of steps in between).  To feed learning opportunities into routines and the environment, that are developmentally appropriate.  It is a smart system.  It does more than emulate things beautifully in print but still demand staff time, to write up and cross-reference.  This work often carried out either in the educator.s own time or during the time-out.  ‘Paperwork’ on a tablet while children don’t have familiar adult support.


As a senior practitioner/manager I had the experience of needing to check the staff’s work before giving information to parents.  This was to be a no-no for spark!  Checking observations is not necessary.  The Facility Feature now can be used for additional evidence as appropriate.  This relieves senior staff of the ongoing burden, pressure and obligation to quality assure everything before parents see it.

Our own nursery experience was that even the great practitioners might not be great in literacy and professional writing.  Some staff had done less well academically in school, some were dyslexic and others had English as an additional language.  Why make them feel inadequate when they were great at their job in all other ways?  We also felt strongly that whoever the key-person was, the family should have a professional record of their child’s Learning Journey – it is an equal opportunities thing all around.


To give flexibility and to assist those who may be at the time, couldn’t give up on those long narrative observations it was decided to introduce the Facilitator Feature.  So alongside the opportunity to add a photo to the observation, any further prose can now be scrutinised by others who were capable, allowing for senior staff to get on with their own roles.

spark has always offered a range of different styles of Learning Journey Reports.  So where a setting feels the quick observations are enough or want a photo report then these are available. Where extra descriptors are added, the Facilitator Feature allows quick checks.  This extra prose added to a similar variety of Learning Journeys.  All these reports are professional, neat and presentable.  Any issues around literacy now do not distract parents’ view of the expert skills of the team in nurturing and ‘teaching’.  Job is done!

Then we introduced spark@HOME.

To encourage parents to be properly involved, to expand brain connections and lifelong opportunities were recognised as important.  We organised it so parents had ownership and could also make their own child’s journal.  Encouraging an equal footing to extend the child’s experiences, their learning and development.  Information, jointly shared via each other’s software to and from parent and setting.  All pooled together and shared.  These also sit within the documentation of the journey’s achievements.

Within the year, we had the first request, “Can we share our written extra evidence with parents?”

In introducing the possibility of sharing text, up popped the ugly ‘literacy issue’ once more.  We believed, and still do, that senior staff have better things to do than check the quality of observational text before it’s received by parents.  Also, we felt it was important to speedily send it.  This important to keep the learning alive.  Parents, we hope, could continue adding to the child’s experience at home.

The Facility Feature now extended.  Release of extended text can be on the same day.  In a manner that does not impede on senior staff time.