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has anyone established an integrated learning environment for 3-5year olds e.g nursery and reception children working together. We would like to consider this for September 2003 :o

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  • 2 weeks later...

We tried to integrate our nursery and reception year but several things happened

Layout of the rooms was restrictive and not being able to knock walls out made it difficult

Planning for the age ranges was slightly awkward as some of the 3years olds were quite immature

Literacy hour and Numeracy hour caused some concerns as the older children did not really want to do them while the others were doing different things and found it distracting

Parents/carers felt their children were being held back in the nursery setting as no matter how much we tried they could not grasp the idea

Due to having 2 rooms we found that we were repeating definite learning areas to accommodate for the amount of children

The cost on resources were 'getting out of hand' as it were

The children used to bunch in one of the rooms, not the same each time but safety became an issue

 

It dosen't sound very postive but we did feel that the building was not really 'made' for this and as we know children like and should have a lot of space.

 

We are still called the foundation unit and our planning in linked as we do the same topics, cover the same goals and our children do mix at 2 playtimes. The staff are still a team but as a lower and upper foundation unit.

 

Jackie

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  • 2 weeks later...

I promised many moons ago in another life that I would share experience of Foundation Units so here goes.

Im very lucky in that I have had two experiences of this, one good and one not so good. I think they are a great idea and would love to be working that way at the moment, but dont see the point of forcing the issue if there are constraints such as yours, Jackie.

The unit that didnt work had similar problems to Jackies, the layout of the rooms didnt make it easy to make them look shared. On top of that, we are very reception top heavy- 2 classes but the nursery is only 39. We felt that the nursery children often lost their entitlement in terms of staff:pupil ratio when activities were shared. We reverted back to separate classes but we still share the outdoor space and outside duties.

My last school, the unit was and still is a great success. We had 4 rooms all coming off a corridor at the end of the school. Originally there were 2 rooms each for nursery and reception, and the corridor was used for coats. We carpeted the corridor, moved the coatpegs and put a door on the end. Now we had 5 rooms, 5 members of staff, so perfect. We pooled our resources, so we only had one messy area, 1 reading area etc. This made working with limited funds easier, (but also gave the Head an excuse to cut the budget!!). We shared our planning, making sure that there was a range of activities going on all the time. Reception withdrew into one of the rooms for maths and language activities. The children got used to the idea that if door was closed, they were not to go in there. WE felt this was great because a lot of recption children were not ready fpr any formal activity and needed the more nursery style set up.

To anyone thinking about setting up a unit, I would offer the following advice:

You must have all the staff on board. Without it, it simply wont work

You need to allow time for discussion, looks at funding, how you are going to manage and plan etc. Its really difficult to play catch up so give yourself time to do it.

Visit other units to get a 'feel' for how they work and then look at your situation.

If you cant change the building, look carefullly at how the rooms are arranged.

Use your adviser if they are any good for support.

But also be aware that Heads have a habit of not putting in cover when staff are absent because there are enough of you. They can also cut the budget because you share everything

We found parents loved it because the younger children settled more quickly having their older siblings to help them; but take time to explain to them what is happening.

We also had a higher profile in the school as we we seen as a phase with a strong sense of team work and comittment and thats got to be good!!

Well there you have it.

Are you asleep yet?

:o

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  • 2 weeks later...

sept 2004 when two local schools will merge into a primary section of business academy this is what we will have.

Not very hopeful for its way of running as all four teachers currently employed by both schools will want the job of running it - they have very different styles and will quite rightly be put out if they do not get the job.

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  • 2 weeks later...

Thanks to those of you who have had some experience of foundation units and have given me some feedback. At present I lead a team of 9 staff (4 teachers and 5 learning support assistants) who work in a 52 place Nursery unit and a 60 place Reception area. We are seperate so far as buildings go but plan and work together as much as possible, enabling and encouraging children to be independent in their choice of activity. Of course Reception children have access to the lIteracy and Numeracy curriculum and this requires a more structured approach.

This year 2003/4 Reception is moving towards a much more 'Nursery like' way of working, with Key workers and a team teaching approach. This is in preparation for the following year when our nursery will join us in a building which is planned to cater for 3-5 year olds. It will have staffing benefits in so much as 9 people will be in the one building instead of 5 and 4 in seperate buildings as they are at present.

We will continue to use the team teaching and key worker approach, giving children access to a more individual and appropriate curriculum for their stage of development.

If anyone else has any further advice please continue to send it.

Hopeful.

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  • 2 weeks later...

What an interesting topic this is! I have no experience of FS units and I feel I have learned a lot, and now want a job in one!!

What is your experience in the reception children leaving such a great environment to go to a (and I'm guessing here) a fairly standard year 1 class? Does your school tend to continue the FS approach in this year group too?

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Hi

I am new to this site - having previously been a year 1 teacher iam from September [ well last June actually] helping to set up a 3-5 year foundation stage unit. We intend to run this in a very child centred way and hopefully very differently to the previously more formal Reception class. I too am worried about how parents [ and other teachers in the school] may react to this and of course getting the planning properly balanced to cater for all - so any further ideas or thoughts you have re the planning would be gratefully received.

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Hi Cathy -

Just a quick interrupt to say welcome to the forum. :D

 

I think the foundation stage unit subject is one of the most interesting things to crop up in the forum so far. I'm no expert so I'm just reading, but I look forward to the responses you get!

 

Welcome again, and I wish you loads of success with your new responsibility. Keep us up to date with the issues you come up with!

 

Regards, Steve.

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  • 4 weeks later...

Just trying to find my way around this site - still at slightly confused stage! I have taught separate Nursery and Reception classes for a long time, but now in my 2nd year of teaching a "Foundation Class" in a very small village school (4 nursery children and 5 reception!). I'm trying to develop a program of study in the six areas for my nursery children, that will fit in with the reception plans (loads to choose from eg. Hamilton trust for CLL, and Practical pre-school maths book) and also with the half termly topics. I have to operate on a 2 year cycle so that children dont repeat exactly the same topics for Nursery and Reception years. Last year I tried to make all the CLL fit in with the topics, but have now given up on that one - too contorted! Does anyone else feel that the maths ELGs are much more approprite for 3-5's than the CLL ELGs? Also, having watched the FS Profile Training video, I'm left wondering just how all the free play and exploration can be reconciled with having to 'do' all the elements of the literacy and numeracy hours?! My philosophy is increasingly "Talk to them, play with them and share lots of stories", but I'm not sure how OFSTED will react!

Jane H

HErtfordshire (can't work out how to get this into "Location" section!

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Hello, I have only just started to use this site and was pleased to see a discussion about Foundation Stage units. I teach in a Primary School and we are at the very first stage of becoming a Foundation Stage Unit. The building layout at the moment does not really allow for a fully integrated unit but we are about to integrate the provision for our Reception and Nursery classes outside. We will be removing the fence that separates the two classes and plan the outdoor learning together. As the Early Years co-ordinator I have found that the very first stage was to ensure that all members of the Early Years staff agree with the ethos of joining the two year groups. After winning them over it is now the trial and error of planning together and ensuring that the individual needs of children are met. We aim to integrate the outdoor provision from the begining of October, with our Attached Inspector visiting us in November to give feedback. Parents so far have been supportive in our aims, especially the parents of children coming into Reception from our Nursery. They seem to like the idea of familiar adults being around to help the transition into their new class. I am excited about our project and hope that FS units will become more widespread.

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Hi Jolene and Jane -

Welcome to the Forum both of you, and thanks for posting! :D

 

Sounds like you both have some great experience to bring to the community - I look forward to your contributions. Thanks for the Hamilton link Jane - I'll add this to the resources page. By the way, to add your location to your listing, just click on My Controls which can be found at the top of each page, and put your location in from there.

 

Welcome again! Hope you find lots of interest here! :)

 

Steve.

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Just trying to find my way around this site - still at slightly confused stage! I have taught separate Nursery and Reception classes for a long time, but now in my 2nd year of teaching a "Foundation Class" in a very small village school (4 nursery children and 5 reception!). I'm trying to develop a program of study in the six areas for my nursery children, that will fit in with the reception plans (loads to choose from eg. Hamilton trust for CLL, and Practical pre-school maths book) and also with the half termly topics. I have to operate on a 2 year cycle so that children dont repeat exactly the same topics for Nursery and Reception years. Last year I tried to make all the CLL fit in with the topics, but have now given up on that one - too contorted! Does anyone else feel that the maths ELGs are much more approprite for 3-5's than the CLL ELGs? Also, having watched the FS Profile Training video, I'm left wondering just how all the free play and exploration can be reconciled with having to 'do' all the elements of the literacy and numeracy hours?! My philosophy is increasingly "Talk to them, play with them and share lots of stories", but I'm not sure how OFSTED will react!

Jane H

HErtfordshire (can't work out how to get this into "Location" section!

i agree, mathematic goals are easily achievable compared to CLL's, but not very well thought out, stepping stones seem to be mixed up, especially in 'Numbers and counting', most children count to 10 before recognising numerals, but elg's have it the other way around ?

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  • 1 month later...

Hi Jolene,

I work in a foundation stage unit. We are at the VERY early stages and have a long way to go-(I've waffled on about my experiences a bit somewhere else on this site but I'm still at bit confused by it at this stage-can someone tell me how to actually start a topic /discussion instead of just replying?)

Anyway, I think you're right about having all staff on board/agreeing with the ethos. How exactly did you 'win them over?' (our problem is that we don't get enough time to discuss things as a team so we we're still not all 'singing from the same hymn sheet' if that makes sense?!!!) :o

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Hi ther again Cath.

When you scroll down the page to 'add reply', the next button along is 'new topic'. :D

 

From my experiences of unit working, time was one of the biggest issues. Unfortunately the school I work in now no longer works as a unit because we have had nearly half of our space taken away from us (we are expanding as a school but noone really thought about where the chidren should go so some brigt spark said'convert half the foundation unit to a classromm for KS1') Lack of space is a major issue so it just didnt work. Sorry, get back to the point Mundia... we did manage to persuade the Head to close the nursery part, get cover in for the reception children, and meet with the whole team one afternoon a month. We still meet like that in the nursery now. Some schools in Birmigham have planning time every week, either by opening late or closing early every week. So it is worth a try, especially if your Head is supportive on this. Do you have a persuasive advisor who will help you present the idea?

We found this time invaluable to do our planning, iron out logistic issues etc, and really made us feel like a team. We also do lunch regularly together.

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Thanks Mundina, I'm starting to find my way around the site much better now!

I was really surprised what you said about some schools closing early/starting late for planning. Interesting....Not sure what our head would think! :o

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  • 3 weeks later...

You have got nothing to lose by asking. And if you know of a school locally that is doing that, it gives more ammunition. Schools have much more control than people think over hours, so if you're Head likes the idea of a unit, they have to acknowledge the need for time, and you may not need it for ever, you can always ask for it temporarily until you become established. :D

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  • 4 months later...

Hi I work in a FS unit, set up at the beginning of the year. I teach Reception, and for the first half of the session, the nursery and reception class operate separately, providing age-appropriate whole class and group times. During the second part of the session, the classes join together for free play - indoors and outdoors. (This fits in with our Highscope approach of group time and plan do review). This seems to work really well - parents and the head are satisified that there is appropriate differentiation, yet the children get to mix, share ideas, teach and learn from each other. I'm really enjoying it! We use similar planning and assessment styles. Again I am concerned about transition to Year 1, as the teaching and learning will be so different. It's hard explaining the Foundation Stage to the rest of the school. Hopefully the Primary Strategy will bring some changes to KS1 practice!!

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Hi Vickijane,

 

We are at the planning stage for our F.S. Unit due to start in September.

Your systems seems similar to how we think we may run our unit. We currently use Highscope in the Nursery and wish to continue with this in the Unit. It sounds like it works well for you.

How long is your first session?

Do you follow a NLS/NNS hour or is this integrated throughout the day.

 

Any ideas on how your unit works would be greatly appreciated.

 

Thanks Tracey.

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I have applied for a place on a course called Smooth Transitions. I hope it will show me ways to make young learners transfer from the foundation stage to key stage 1 smooth and stress free.The course is presented by Sally Featherstone and arranged by my EYDCP.

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Guest heelin

Hi Mundia

Would it be possible for you to tell me name & address of some schools in Birmingham where the Head allow staff to plan during teaching time. This info hopefully will help me to negotiate with my Head or at least I could ask my local Authority advisor for help.

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  • 1 month later...

some very helpful information in these postings...As Deputy Head and Foundation Stage leader and Nursery Teacher I'm leading the development of a nursery/reception unit hopefully for september.Currently the Nursery is away across the playground and often forgotten about!! Fortunately my Head is very keen to do this and a fair amount of reworking will be done to the area to set up a 4 room unit with dedicated outdoor space carved out of the playground. She is moving many of the teaching assistants to foundation/KS1 to support this move so we will have potentially 2x30 reception and 39 nursery with 10 full time staff and 1 part time. 3 will be QTS and 2 NNEB's We will be sad to lose the exclusive use of the nursery garden which is becoming a whole school ecology resource but there's always pros and cons I suppose. It's good to read what worked and what got in the way for others.

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Hi catma, Im not sure if I have welcomed you before so if not welcome, and if I have , then welcome again. :D

 

Sounds like an exciting time ahead for you. I would love to work this way again, the benefits to the chidlren were enormous. You have similar numbers to ours, which unfrotunately didnt work for us as a unit. (We only had 6 staff to the same number of children as you)

I can see that you have got the staffing healthy so that the children dont lose their entitlement from being mixed.

 

Would love to hear how it all goes, Im sure it will be a learning curve for you with plenty of highs and lows (more high than low I hope), so do keep us informed. :D:D

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