Jack and Beanstalk – T4W and continuous provision go hand in hand!

I love this time of year as it’s our Fairytale topic and that naughty boy Jack makes an appearance. We start the topic by using a book called The Great Fairy Tale Disaster by David Conway. In this book, the wolf from the 3 Little pigs tries out some other fairy tales for a quieter life. Continue reading “Jack and Beanstalk – T4W and continuous provision go hand in hand!”

Year 1 Timetables- What does it look like ?

At the beginning of the year our timetable looked very different to it does now. Whether this is a good thing , the jury is still out. See my other posts on increasing structure and reflection on the process.

In September we start with the only structured part of the day being short input for English or Maths in the morning and another short input of the other in the afternoon. So that means English and Maths are our focus. Also we have a phonics session in small groups at 11.30- 12pm. See my post on phonics groups.

Continue reading “Year 1 Timetables- What does it look like ?”

The move to more structure – reflection

Which way to go?

So we are coming to the end of the first half term where we have begun to add  more structure to the  day. We currently teach English and maths in the morning and we are continuing with our playful learning in the afternoons.

The children have quickly and easily adapted to the more formal approach they definitely are able to sit at tables and work independently if necessary .

However I haven’t adapted as easily… I really miss the one to one contact with every child every day that I was experiencing. Although I can see their work when I mark it later or give feedback on the day it’s just not the same quality as being there when it was created. Asking those questions that push the learning further or offering support at just the right moment.

It’s easier on me to work with a formal structure I’m no where near as exhausted at the end of the day but that’s a price I’m happy to pay if the quality of the learning is stronger.

I will continue to review my practice and discuss it later with SLT . We are all always learning !

Phonics- to group or not to group ?

This year we have experimented with a different approach to our phonics groups. Following research into mixed ability groups being an effect way of supporting all abilities, we decided to try it in the first term.

The children entered Year 1 with only 31% of children coming into Year 1 at the expected level for phonics.  (17 children were currently on track  41 not on track at the start of the year.)

Our target to achieve by June is the national average last year of 81% .

79 % if we are looking at Norfolk.

It meant that out of 58 pupils to achieve that ,we need 47 to pass . Which in turn means we need to get 30 children who are below, to get expected by June.

So what did we do?

So we looked at the children and following our phonics checks we identified the children working at the expected level and we grouped them to work through the sounds at the prescribed rate following Letters and sounds ( Phase 5 .)

The other children rather than ability grouping we mixed them into smaller groups of 12 pupils with levels ranging from phase 2 to 4.


We have organised our phonics timetable so that all the groups are taught by everyone over the week meaning that the groups are taught by teachers for 2 sessions and TA’s  for 2 sessions. It also means that as a teacher I see all pupils over the week and I can see their progress or areas for development which in turn helps with planning.

We have a whole class session on a Tuesday .

We reviewed the process at Christmas and when we did our phonics check we saw accelerated progress with a number of pupils.


I believe by giving all pupils quality first teaching and allowing all pupils access to the full range of sounds, children have had the opportunity to make good progress. Some children who still can’t remember all the phase 3 phonemes have learnt some of the phase 5 ones. The groups are also smaller as they are evenly split into 5 groups.

On top of this we have had in class interventions for those children still working at phase 1/2.

Results so far !

Data Analysis Spring 2018: Started the year with only 31% on to pass.

Certain Pass rate – 64%

Possible passes – 14%

Joint predicted pass rate – 78%  (1% off the Norfolk pass rate)

Other factors that affect our results

Unfortunately due to the transient nature of our year group we have a large change around of children. We have various children from families on short term work visas who have to return to their home countries. ( usually about now before the phonics check!- 3 children have just left all scoring 40 on our last check)

Also social/economic factors lead to changing addresses and children joining us and leaving us  a various points in the year.

So far 7 children left and replaced by 5  more ( 3 spaces to be filled after Easter ) We will see who we get after Easter and work with them where they are ability wise and phonics skill level. I think our way of working makes it as easy as possible for these children to join a group and continue to learn.

Still a while to go but fingers crossed for June !

Timetabling – Increasing structure through the year.

At the start of the year we introduced the children to the enabling environment. We had a good idea of the gaps the children had as they transitioned from EYFS to KS1 . This is by no means down to our wonderful EYFS team – deemed outstanding by ofsted! Probably a lot more to do with the huge difference in curriculum between early years and Year 1 (There is plenty of debate about this in both the educational world and beyond. )Also the starting points for some of our children plays a massive role in their attainment .

However In Year 1 we are  set targets and percentages as are any other year group or school. It’s the world we work in now.But knowing that not all the children were ready to start  Year 1 ‘at expected’ we had areas to develop further.


We have been delighted with the results so far this year , I wont bore you with too much data but we have almost doubled our writing, reading and maths scores. We still don’t make national % levels for age expected yet but when I look at the actually progress the children have made it is astounding.

Time to change

So is it time to change? Despite all our success we are very aware of the pressures of Year 2 and the KS 1 SATs. So we are going to introduce  a more formal morning. This was always the design , as the year progressed to get closer in line with how the children will be taught in Year 2 and KS2.

We are keeping the afternoon Child Led playful learning. Also I am confident that if we see that this new ( well old really) way of working is not getting the results I’ll happily change back!

Next Year

In an ideal world we would continue the learning style into Year 2 but that’s a whole new ball game and area to tackle. Never say never!

Hints And Tips With Tapestry

Using the online learning journal Tapestry has allowed us to focus our time on teaching. Instead of endless cutting photos and sticking these in books, we can quickly record the learning that is happening in the classroom. It is especailly helpful for capturing some of the harder to evidence objectives in the curriculum.

Top tips

  • I find it useful to take observations using the tablets and edit later on the PC. this gives you greater flexibility.
  • If taking group photos it is possible to split observations so you differentiate which level you feel the children are at.
  • I have found it has been useful in upskilling the TA’s knowledge of the curriculum, as when they post an observation I ask them to chose an area they feel it covers. I then always check these but just scrolling through and deciding increases your knowledge of the Year 1 objectives.