• Octopus Journals

NDNA NETWORK MEETING - Let’s talk about Learning Journals...

Monday 10th September, the National Day Nurseries Association (NDNA) hosted a network meeting with the lead topic of Learning Journals, sharing best practice on Observations, reports and children's portfolios

“We know that early years practitioners need to record what they see the children doing and what they hear them saying – but it never seems to be as simple as that!”

- National Day Nurseries Association, NDNA

We were invited along to speak with a number of different settings and members of the NDNA, to discuss and present our unique EYFS online learning journal! The Octopus Team were thrilled to be a part of the discussion and even more excited to see one of our nurseries, The Pelican Nursery, bring a long an example of their Learning Journal using Octopus!

I think it’s significant to say that Learning journals are an important document to keep as they provide the necessary evidence and support of a child’s development. They show a clear path of the child’s learning journey, evidencing starting points, progress and interests and this in turn helps to support planning for practitioners and ensures every child has their individual learning needs met.

Not only are they important for practitioners, they are also incredibly important for parents. They provide valuable and treasured stories, photos, and key milestones in their child’s development.

But, lets be honest, they take a LOT of time to fulfil. With increasing pressure on practitioners to complete trails of paperwork - learning journals are becoming harder to complete and becoming more and more standardised.

What were the key learning’s from the meeting?

Each and every one of us is aware that technology is evolving and that there is a need to keep up with modern day equipment, whether it’s to stay relevant, up-to-date or increase efficiency and save time. There were various practitioners within the group that expressed their concerns with moving online and going digital.

The personal and individual feel of a paper-based ‘scrapbook’ learning journey is something that everyone wants to maintain.

The question is, how can we do this when moving online?

We discussed various ways of sustaining this individuality, with others explaining how to utilise an online platform for certain parts of the journal and keeping other areas paper-based; or ensuring front covers are made by the children and the rest of the journal is logged online and printed at the end of term. There are several different ways to gradually move online to Octopus.

Secondly, others expressed their concern as to whether all members of staff would be able to adjust to Online Learning Journals. Key workers and Early Years staff can range from anywhere between 16 to around 65 years of age and not everyone is going to be confident using a tablet.

We helped reassure the attendees just how easy Octopus Journals is to use. With its module based format, each and every item on the system is held within a form, telling you step by step, everything you need to do, as it appears in front of you. We also offer a wide variety of resources, help guides and quick-start training. Not only are our resources a proven success, but also we offer a vast amount of support to customers. Whether that be via our in-office and out-of-office telephone lines, email or on occasions, we will visit the setting too!

Once we were able to demonstrate the system to the group, each attendee was able to see the potential and benefit Octopus Journals could bring to their setting.

How does Octopus Journals work?

We are an innovative EYFS online learning journal that allows you to manage, record and evaluate a child’s development all at the touch of a button.

Basically, we allow you to focus on the progress of each child, ensuring more time is spent doing what you do best, teaching and interacting with the children. Then Octopus can support you with the Learning Journals and ensure it is completed as quickly and efficiently as possible (and up to Ofsted’s standards!).

​We are fortunate enough to speak to numerous settings across the UK and the over-riding first impression that we get is that you are just so busy! We truly believe that once we have set you up on your way, our system is that easy and simple to learn and use, it will noticeably save you time within a matter of days.

So, with our eight tentacles, comes eight important tools, and this is over-ached by three key messages.

Firstly TO OBSERVE; Secondly TO REPORT; And Finally TO ENGAGE


  • Add, edit and manage observations, linking together the Development Matter Statements, Early Learning Goals, Next Steps and Individual Assessments.

  • The system works alongside the EYFS Government Guideline

  • Form based modules – Easy to use and navigate the system

  • Ability to complete all observations on any device, anywhere, at any time with the ability to add in various, UNLIMITED images, videos or even voice files to support the evaluation

  • Flexible Working – Note taking and the option to go back, amend and complete the observation, linking to assessments, characteristics and learning goals


  • Develop powerful and informative reports and progress tracking.

  • View each and every report in multiple formats - Pie charts, Graphs, Percentages etc

  • Help practitioners to plan ahead and keep track of learning abilities for each and every child

  • Cohort Tracking to analyse each and every child within the organisation

  • Percentage Markers to accurately allow practitioners to see where children are developing across the seven learning areas

  • Filtered and customised reports – Generate reports by Gender, Group, Child, SEN, Child Funding etc.


  • Share each report seamlessly with parents and guardians

  • Encouraging feedback and further personal, home observations

  • Internal Messaging System to share Newsletters, Term Times and Memo’s

  • Archiving Process: A detailed EYFS Journal ready for further education and step up to school

  • Parent’s “All about me” commentary and home learning

  • An informative, creative, step by step journal for parents/guardians to treasure

“We have used various different tools to record and manage our observations. Octopus is by far the easiest to use and generates really effective learning journals, which look great too!”

"The level of reports available are amazing, it has made my cohort tracking so much easier. I'd also like to say that the level of support via email and phone is fantastic!"

- Lauren Baker, Nursery Manager at The Pelican Nursery, South London

It is key to highlight that not all organisations are the same. We all want to complete the same end goal, but the ways in which we get there can differ slightly from setting to setting. Octopus is fully adaptable software. We like to learn a little bit about you and your organisation, and tailor the software to fit YOU and YOUR needs.

We have various childminders, nannies, nurseries and pre-schools using our software, as well as slightly bigger organisations and academies – Which proves we can adapt the system to suit you! We are continually developing Octopus Journals, so keep an eye out for some new features coming soon…

We love to hear feedback; so if you do have any questions or suggestions, please do let us know!

*Special thanks to Lauren Baker, Nursery Manager at The Pelican Day Nursery and NDNA Secretary, for inviting us along to the Network Meeting!

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