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Guest eck1975

. . . apologies to anyone who has already read this on the 'Introduce Yourself' forum . . .


I could do with a chat/some advice from anyone who has experience of a mixed Reception / Year One class.


I am doing my best to try and cover everything that Reception and Year One should be getting - but am having a real struggle managing to provide eveything Reception should have under EYFS and everything that Y1 should have under NC . . . and really I just want to aaaaagggggghhhhhhhrrrrr


I am still in my NQT year (but not for much longer, 2wks in fact!) and we are expecting Ofsted anytime, so everything is a bit stressful at mo' anyway, but am constantly plagued by 'are Y1 getting everything they should be getting?', 'we didn't have time for guided reading today', 'didn't have time for any Reception observations/assessments today' etc etc and my Y1s should really be on Phase 4 Letters & Sounds, but have just repeated Phase 2, with Reception, as there is only me to do phonics . . .


Am trying not to moan, I just want to get it as 'right' as possible, so if anyone has any pearls of wisdom, advice, or feels they are in a similar predicament, I would love to hear from you!


Em x

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i have a mixed reception year 1 class.We have a topic for each half term from which we initially plan linking ELG's and NC levels.thereby teach all the class, differentiated by questioning and following activites/method of recording etc I link Literacy stratergy to ELG and the topic ie non fiction texts to transport topic. Phonics in two groups differentiated by level not year group.Hope this helps as we are still trying to find a balance.

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I had some time with a literacy consultant earlier this week and she said that when planning literacy if using the new framework children Year 1 children in a mixed R/Y1 class are entitled to 50% of the units, and the same in a mixed Y1/Y2 class. I thought this was interesting. Last year we planned from the framework as we had more Y1 than R and we adapted/differentiated the units when we thought the reception could access them. This year we are mainly reception with lots of SEN Y1 and are choosing some of the units that we think will suit the children.

We have whole school topics that we 'vaguely follow' as we also plan from any children's interests. E.g. the whole school topic is 'Very big and very small' so we have focussed on The enormous turnip for story making, done some planting, have a jungle role play area as many children were interested in animals and suggested a jungle, we have done a rhyming 'adapted unit' using animal poems, creative work based on the jungle / animals. For maths we tend to follow the themes of the new framework and adapt activities if / when possibel for reception. SOmeitmes they are just involved in a class session but don;t do any follow up work, just the Year 1s do. There is also lots of time for child intiated. The Year 1s also have some time, but we try to give them more focussed tasks (still practical) too.

It is about trying to best suit the needs of your current class and getting a balance that suits you, the children, and enables them to move on in all areas of their learning! No magic answers though- lots of trial and errot. It would be worth you going to visit some other mixed age classes to see how they go about it.

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Guest eck1975

Thanks miss sixty and marie for your replies.


That is very interesting info re Y1 entitlement to literacy framwork units. I have more Reception than Year Ones - 17 Recep & 9 Y1 (plus a child with SEN, who should be in Y3). One of my 'challenges' is that I have the youngest Y1s, not necesarily the lower ability, some of my Y1s are very able, so the difference between lower Recep & higher Y1 is massive.


I do have a 'topic' per half term, but my understanding of EYFS is that it's moved away from topics? Also, I don't have all the Y1s at our school, the older Y1s are in a mixed Y1/2 class, so the parents of mine are often comparing what goes on in the Y1/2 class and what goes on in mine, and sometimes feel that because mine are not always sat at desks 'working' they are not learning. (Can I scream!? . . personally don't think Y1/2 should spend most of their time sat at desks, but don't start me on that ...) Anyhoo, as a result of that, my Y1s do the same topic/s as the Y1/2 class - this term 'Fire', fire of London, fire safety, fireworks, Gunpowder Plot etc - too advanced for Reception, so tried to link topics as much as poss - first half term was 'People Who Help Us' (with a heavy emphasis on fire fighting) and 'Families and Celebrations' for this half term, to include Diwali, bonfire night, Christmas etc.


I should have (at least) 2 Letters & Sounds groups, but there is only me to do them, as morning TA not confident to do it, hence my Y1s (most of whom are ready for Phase 3/4) have just repeated Phase 2. Have told TA, she will have to do Letters & Sounds Phase 2 after Christmas, she has observed me doing it this term, and I am going to do Phase 3 with most of Y1s & the Recep who are ready for it. I have suggested that as a school we should look at all of Recep, all of Y1 & all of Y2, irrelevant of which classes they are in, and put them into Letters & Sounds groups, according to their ability/need, as there would be 2 teachers & 2, possibly 3 TAs, to do the groups, that way a Y2 in the Y2/3 class could be doing Phase 3 with my Y1s if thats what they need . . . but it hasn't been done . . . (yet! Y'never know!)


I am aware that the balance of my time is not shared fairly - I do spend more time with the Y1s, not intentionally, it just seems to work out that way, and then when I have planned to do observations of Recep, they go out of the window so to speak and most of the time I end up grabbing post-its, doing very impromptu obs of Recep. That was not how I intended to do things at the start of the year!


You are right - I do need to go and see some other mixed Y1/R classes and see how they do things.


Thanks for listening, x

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Hi Em,


Can sympathise with you as i am having similar troubles!


This Year I have a class of 17. 11 Reception children and 6 year 1 children (only 1 of which i consider to be SEN). My main issues too are managing to fit in curriculum content for both year groups and finding a happy medium.


Initially at the start of the year i think i was more concerned in ensuring the year 1s had everything in place and trying to keep up with the year 1 children in the mixed 1/2 class. However, i have now changed my views. With Ofsted on the cards just after Christmas i am trying to ensure that provision is in place for Reception pupils as this is a seperate paragraph on the Ofsted reports and provision for Foundation stage pupils is something they seem to be looking at closely.


This year we are trialing the IPC curriculum (for foundation subjects) further up the school, however after trying this in Autrumn term and it being totally inappropriate for the age of children I am now going back to very loose themes (with opportunities to follow children's intertests) and linking these to NC objectives for Y1 pupils. I am now trying to focus on providing quality learning experiences and trying to worry less about

covbering all objectives etc.


I'm thinking Quality not Quantity!! : :o


I think we have a very difficult job on our hands.


Katy x

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Guest eck1975

Hi Katy,


I am equally glad to hear from someone having similar challenges, and sorry that you are having similar troubles.


And, Yes I totally agree - Quality not Quantity.


We are expecting Ofsted too. In fact we were expecting them before Christmas. Our school came out of special measures 2yrs ago, and Ofsted said they would be back in 2yrs, which would have been 6th Dec to the day, but we haven't heard from them ... so really hoping that it will be after Christmas now, as it's 'Star Week' assessments this week in the mornings and Christmas performance preparations/practises in the afternoons.


I have 17 Reception children and my biggest problems with them are: getting any planned-in observations done; planning in/providing activities in response to their interests (when they go 'off topic' so to speak); and providing free-flow outside, which is just impossible. I have 9 Year Ones, a few of whom are very able & are predicted to get level 3s in their end of KS1 SATs - so I am obviously concerned about providing enough challenge for them ... And I have a child, who will be 8yrs in May, and should be in Y3, but is functioning at more like Nursery/Reception level. He has 2 & half hours support per day, so not even the full morning ... but that's another story ...


I think you're right that Ofsted could be looking a lot at the Foundation Stage - with the new EYFS, but I guess you can never predict exactly what they'll want to know/see ... Am dreading it personally! Have had positive feedback from the (acting) Head, she doesn't seem to think I'll have any problem. But I'm not sure that she fully understands the challenges of a mixed YR/Y1!?


I think you're right though, we should stop worrying so much about keeping up with the Y1/2 class, have confidence that we are doing the best we can within the constraints we have. We can't do everything, it's impossible.


Are the children happy? Yes! Are they making progress? Yes! Are they well-behaved? Yes!


It's really hard to have confidence that you're doing a good job, when half the time you feel like you haven't got everything done and haven't provided what everyone needs ... but I am really trying to believe in myself at the moment, (I have had some real downers wondering what/how I could do differently/better), because I really am trying my best and I am sure you are too!


It's also hard when you feel like no-one else understands what you're going through (non-teachers don't understand, and teachers with different year groups don't really understand, tried to talk to mum but she just says that I'm obsessed with work and that I need to make some time for myself and have a life ...)


so, do keep in touch.


Good Luck with Ofsted! Em x

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Hey, Oh i have the utmost sympathy for you. I was in exactly the same position as you last year in my NQT year, I had a mixed Y1/R class with, by the end of the year 15 Y1 and 17 Foundation (I had 2 Foundation intakes with 9 coming in January - I felt like I had prematurely aged by February!) unless someone has been there, they really don't know what it is like to have 2 curriculums to follow and some children who can handle place value and others that don't recognise the number 5 and although this is probably no help to you I can honestly say it was one of the most challenging years of my life! I say this though and I got through it and feel quite proud of myself now.

I felt like I gave 150% but barely gave each age range 75%. On reflection I realise you can only give as much as you can and then people have to realise that a mixed Foundation and Year 1 class can never be what a pure Foundation or pure Year 1 is simply by it's nature it has to have different fundamental routines. The mere fact that you are worried about it shows that you are being reflective and that you care. I am sure you doing an amazing job, if you're anything like me, you're always your own worse critic.

Here's some things that I found helped me:

*Have Independent Learning as a key feature of the class and if you can have a foundation environment with the majority of learning bays, sand, water etc set out all the time so the foundation can have constant access. Have a Challenge of the Day that the Year 1 have to complete before they get independent learning time and offer the Foundation a potential reward if they complete it too.

*Try to view them as a whole, the best advice anyone ever gave me is that they are young children and essentially a good teacher will differentiate and match learning needs to a child and if that means a Y1 child will benefit more from the FS activity and vice versa than go with it.

*Alternate the days you work with Y1 and Foundation with your TA, Foundation deserve to have quality time with a teacher.

*If the FS children can sit for the Lit and Num input only have one activity for them that day for example if their task is to complete a lit activity let them have independent learning whilst the Y1s are completing group work for numeracy. Get your Ta to take them outside to complete physical activities such as riding trics whilst you have quality input time with Y1s.

*Encourage your TA to do obs... the only way i managed to get my obs done, set aside 'golden time' for completing your planned observations, then Y1 can also be in child initiated learning.

*Teach phonics recapping all the sounds and key words as a whole class but then differentiate the activities so your TA has a group, you have a group and then the others are doing practise activities for something they have previously learnt. Then finish in a sort of plenary by checking one of the practise activities as a whole class (hope this makes sense) for example, checking the children have put buried treasure words in the right pots together, I found this gave the children working independently motivation to complete the activity.

I hope some of these ideas are helpful if you want to ask me anything else or would like to see any plans I will be more than willing to help.

Don't beat yourself up about it, i'm sure you're doing a fantastic job!

Good luck :) x

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Guest eck1975

Oh wow!


Thank you for all that Queline. As it's late - I've had a quick read & it all sounds very useful stuff.


I am going to come back to it properly when have more time and digect all that info, but thank you so much for taking the time to share your ideas.


I may well bein touch again,


Em x

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I think the point queline makes about the YR being entitled to quality teacher time is absolutely vital, and can be overlooked. It can also be good for your TA's development to have time seeing the next step for YR by working with Y1 more.


I've 10 of each year group (YR, Y1, Y2) and it can feel as if you're torn in every direction. In my case, the YR children have 1/3 of me, rather than 1/2, and I can't see any way out of that one.

That said, the emphasis does seem to be shifting away from the set subjects for KS1 and lots of schools in our area are experimenting with a Foundation Stage approach across the whole school. Like queline, we have a sort of "golden time" on a Friday afternoon, (though we have adopted a HighScope approach to this) which gives me time for lots of observation and short focus tasks with groups of children according to need. One thing that brought it home to me that they are a group of children, rather than 3 year groups, was looking at the dates of birth lists and realising 3 of my receptions and 3 of my Y1s could have been the other way round if they had been born a week earlier/later. We've recently decided that letting YR join Y1/2 for whole class PE/games with the HLTA during my PPA wasn't working, so they now stay out of that session, I do my "PPA" work in class so I'm an extra body (just in case!) and my TA either stays in class supporting play.


We do our phonics slightly differently. We don't recap whole class because it doesn't work for us with Y2 thrown into the mix,(we have groups at every phase from 1 to 6) but I do sometimes draw 2 of my groups together for this. We cross-phase phonics across my class and the Y3/4 class, and the children split into groups according to their current phase. All support staff in school are pumped into our two classes at the same time for this slot. Each adult then does 2 phonics sessions back to back with 2 different groups. We do some games whole class though, eg. differentiating something like "noisy letters" by giving the higher phase groups long vowels/blends etc whereas those on phase 2/3 might just have consonant digraphs/single letters. We also do alphabet games whole class.


Sometimes, in literacy, the text I'm doing with Y1/2 is fine for YR, but sometimes, if I've chosen something more challenging with a very "Y2/3" focus, to give the upper Y2s a bit of a nudge, I plan a different text for YR that either my TA shares with them, or that I will do later in the day. The Y2s quite like to have their own class novel time away from the younger children, too.


For maths, YR join the mental starter sometimes (but sometimes it just isn't appropriate). We also play lots of maths games/sing maths songs that are accessible to YR, eg. when we are lining up for lunch/waiting for toast to arrive/during registration, etc. On one day a week, I start off maths while YR get changed for gym, then have a gym session with them in the hall (often doubling this up with a maths focus), then back for the maths plenary with Y1/2 while YR get changed back.


If I need a quiet time for Y1/2 that isn't appropriate to YR, I ask my TA to take YR outside on the bikes etc., or in the hall for Big Play. We also do lots of "Wellie Walks" and I'm building up a bank of maths trails around school with a different focus each time.


What we have found is that, as the term has gone on, more and more YR children are opting in to whatever the Y1/2s are doing during their plan, do, review times. They often want to join in with science/history/geography activities.


Despite good intentions, and downloading lots of Sparklebox resources to help me, I've not been very structured in my approach to challenges in the areas for Y1/2 so far, they have tended to be spur of the moment things, so thanks for the reminder about this idea, queline - is it OK if I pinch it, please?


In the meantime, eck1975, the mixed age issue is starting to be recognised a little more now - there are mixed age resources and ideas on the renewed framework website, and a number of authority websites will point you in the right direction to small schools support (Lancashire, Devon/Cornwall, and I'm sure someone will come along soon with more). The Hamilton trust also has some ideas for mixed age planning which you can adapt to fit your own needs.


Sorry I've rattled on a bit there,

Good luck,

Tracylu :o

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