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.

Progress

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!

Defending your case ! – What to do when you come under-fire…

Just recently I’ve seen ever increasing numbers of people proclaiming that despite enjoying  great success at exploring a more child led approach ,SLT or ‘Advisers’ county or otherwise, have asked for a more formal structure to be reintroduced.

A lot of this follows on from the publication of Bold Beginnings by the government; which unfortunately is being taken out of context by a lot of senior managers.

Bums On Seats

I believe this is due to a lack of understanding about how children learn and also about not knowing what learning can look like. In KS 2 and beyond bums on seats, quiet classrooms have long been held in high regard.

Whilst more recently it has been refreshing to see a more creative back lash : schools including my own, looking into growth mindset and ways of learning collaboratively.

The lessons still look familiar to the observer – Teacher talks ( teaches) – children go to desks – children learn – teacher reviews – end lesson ! Easy peasy to assess . Add in mini plenaries, mixed ability grouping , talk partners, assessment for learning techniques, challenges etc for spice even forest schools once a week !

Observing Free Flow

But what about when the learning is happening without a teacher present in a free flow situation, what if children are in engaged in a variety of different learning opportunities? Am I observing Maths/ English or something else?

What do we look for when a teacher or TA watches and then only questions the child ? They haven’t taught them anything?they are just playing!  How can I tick my boxes?

I believe these are the silent questions whizzing around the heads of the SLT or Observers. I know I was one of them!!

It took time and research for me to understand how powerful a child led approach can be, how important play is to learning, and to let go of complete control!

What to say…

So if asked to change, smile and say

” I can if you want- it would be easier for me to teach that way. A lot less thought and energy has to go into my day. The children’s learning will ‘ look’ a lot more familiar to you. BUT I know the children will make  less progress and learn less for the future. If you’d like me to continue to narrow the gap in children’s learning and meet their individual needs let me teach you about how children are learning and what to look out for …”

I know there are loads of wonderful leaders out there who already value the creativity and experience of their teams but if that’s not your experience at the moment hold on to what you know to be right and teach them!

In summary

  • Do your research- be ready with counter arguments.
  • Understand where they are coming from and help them understand what the learning looks like.
  • Be passionate , be resilient .

Remember :

“If you are not being challenged you might not be making a difference”

How It All Started…

I like a challenge so after working for over 15 yrs in KS2 I felt I wanted a change and a new and exciting challenge. I moved from a Junior school to a Primary so that I could eventually work in KS 1 hopefully.

The chance came 3 yrs ago. I was new to Year 1 so I followed the pattern of learning that was already established. However despite being pleased with many aspects of the learning I felt something was missing. I did my own research into how young children learn and read several books to help me understand. It soon became clear that I wanted to improve and change the  way we worked in Year 1.

I put a case together and asked the SLT to listen to my proposal. I am very lucky to say that after my presentation and some challenging questions I was given the go ahead.

Continue reading “How It All Started…”

Useful Academic Research

Great for understanding how to introduce challenge into Year 1 whilst using the same approach as EYFS.

I can highly recommend all of these  books they are essential to read in my opinion. Both Anna and Julie are clear about how and why this approach works.

A great read and really easy to get to grips with by Anna Ephgrave.

 

 

 

 

Whilst another good read is Helicopter Stories by Trisha Lee,this fits beautifully with the ethos.