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Planning Advice Please.


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I am an NQT starting my second post in Jan. I worked for one term in a Nursery and i am moving to another school, also in Nursery.

My first school had 19 full time children, who were joined in the am by 7 part timers and in the pm by a different set of 8 part timers. My new school has a morning and afternoon session with all children attending part time. In my first school I had quite a few NN and assistants/students. For 28 children there was myself and two full time NNEB's plus one student. My planning was a shot in the dark. I would have:


9 - 9.15 for registration, weather etc. This was in 2 family groups with an activity e.g stickle bricks on carpet. Then

9.15 - 9.30 was "group time" a kind of focus on something linked into our topic, speaking and listening etc.

C.I from 9.30 to 10.15

then snack time until 10.30.

Outdoor play from 10.30 - 10.45

10.45 until 11.15 CI again

11.15 PIPs (playing with sounds steps 1 and 2)

11.20 - 11.30 Storytime/singing/circle time


In my CI time I would have two focused activities running over the week that each child would "pass through". E.g Acting out a familiar story using puppets, creating a portrait etc. This activity was adult lead. With the staff i had it was possible to have two staff sitting down to do activity, 1 to provide general cover/supervision and observation of play, and 1 to interact in the role play areas. I would plan a "pacer" doc, which showed that having two activities per week made sure that the curriculum was broad and balanced, because you could see the whole half term on the page, and see where the diff areas of learning were.


Now...I am moving to new school and I know that there is only one NNEB with me and there are 30 children! Obviously my planning structure needs to change.

I am sure i heard my new FS coord say that in Reception they have a CLL, MD and KUW focus every week and the rest running as independent (might be wrong here though). I am struggling to see how I can do this when I only had two focussed activities per week at my old school, and a lot more staff.


I will get to the point...does anyone have a really good way of planning that you feel really achieves a good balance, doesn't create too much paperwork, but is effective and easy to plan? I can decide what topic I want to do, how i plan...everything. Is anybody really proud of the way that they approach the planning and could share it with me?

Thank you very much

Slightly stressed NQT

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Hi Tracyhf1 Good luck for next term- firstly you should speak to your Head Teacher about your ratios - it should be 1:13 so you should not have more than 26 children with just 2 staff. as they are all part time it is impossible to cover everything, and children do need time to revisit things over again so don't rush them, much of the foundation stage is continuous so get that in place first, there are some excellent planning sheets from JacquieL under Observation Assessment and Planning - continuous planning. you will find it right here

You could try planning over a fortnight period or half term as the children are part time so that you provide a balance.

Not sure what you mean by CL time? :o

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my mistake tracy - have found the planning now for you hope you find it.

And yes it is 1:13 but most HT like to squeeze in a few more for the £££££££££

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Hi Tracey, Mimi is quite correct and you must speak to the Head about the ratio. You cannot go over 26 children with only 2 of you.


There are lots of members who have posted planning samples and I am sure that someone will put the link in for you if you havent found them yet.


But I wouldnt over worry about this at tis stage. You are going to a new school where presumabaly you dont know the children or staff that well yet, and thefore your priority needs to be getting to know them. Unless the nursery is new, there will be existing planning and I would be prepared to follow that initially. Your coordinator may have an idea from the foundation phase long term plan (if there is one) what you should be covering next term.


I would also say the same about routines. The children will be familiar with a routine assuming they started in September. Just getting used to a new teacher will be enough for some of them, so I would take the first few weeks to see how the existing routines work, learn about your children and your colleague, and then consider any changes you may want to make. You can then make changes from a position of knowledge.


hope that helps

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Do you have 30 on am and 30 on pm? If yes you should definately have 1:13 for each session.


I think one focus activity running each day is enough but you don't have to have every child accessing every focus all the time if there not assessments so you could maybe have 2 activities each week? just a thought and one adult interacting with the children.


Your timetable for the other nursery sounded good but you could find out the established routine when you get to your new school and go from there.

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Yes you are right. I will go in to see how it works for a few weeks first. I think at the moment there are less children there in the afternoon.

I am really excited, but I think I need to take a breath and tackle things slowly. :) I think my problem is that I try to do too much.

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Good luck, Tracy!

I'm sure when you get there and get going things will fall into place.


Do however have some ideas of what you want to do with the children and make yourself a checklist of the other things you want to find out about etc so that should anyone quiry you, you have something on paper! ANd top of that list can be check number on role re staff ratio.

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  • 3 weeks later...

Went in for the two days last week and had a lovely time.

We just placed out several activities and let the children have free child initiated play. I spent time interacting with the children and getting to know them. The morning has a full 30, and the afternoon is at 27 at the moment. We have one little boy in particular who only stays for an hour and a half in the afternoon who really needs to be assessed for SEN. Once he starts, he is a one man demolition show. The children on thw whole are quite well behaved and independent, but there are a few in nappies. How can one of us change a nappy, while the other watches 29 other children? There should be a witness to nappy changing surely? The only way I can see for the planning to work is to place out a variety of resources/activities to cover the 6 areas and then plan one focussed activity per week that we make a written assessment on. If the activity is short, we could try to fit two in I guess. This means that the other person has to supervise the whole room (2 sections) and deals with any accidents, interact in the role play, prepare the snack...I won't say the obvious with the broom...lol.

I don't see how I can do a different focus activity every day, because there is no way all the children would be able to do it. e.g. cooking biscuits. Groups of 4 could make, mix etc. their biscuits. I might get through three groups in the morning and three groups in the afternoon. So that is 24 children per day to do the biscuits. So it would need three days to cover all the children. We have one day taken up with PE, so that leaves one day for...extra's? Argh, head spinning.

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  • 2 weeks later...


Afternoons are REALLY hard. I have two boys who are going to be assessed by the Early Years team for special needs, one who has started this week who doesn't want to come, won't join in, play, eat or drink, or even speak to anyone. And one other boy who has challenging behaviour. I tried to do a focus activity today but it just didn't work! There isn't enough hands for me to be able to sit down with a small group while the Nursery nurse tries to supervise the whole group. When the one boy starts he is such a danger to himself and other he needs to be restrained. He threw chairs, sand, and pushed children last week. I had to put my arms around him and sit on the floor, he then just seems to melt in my arms as all the anger, aggression and strength leaves his body. He then just sat on my lap for ten minutes in a daze. I know he needs help, and he needs one to one, but I can't give it to him without forsaking everyone else in the class.

I just don't know how to plan for an afternoon when it seems as though the NN and I are just needed to "crowd control" and stop certain little ones from killing each other! Perhaps I should just plan the group time session, 10 min after register. Then forget a focus activity and just put things out for the children to interact with and play with. It is so hard to even properly play and observe them without having to get up every 30 seconds to sort out a problem. To top it all off I have a horrible cold and sore throat and I just want to sleep.

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oh Tracy!

That sounds so hard and yet can be so typical!

You need to find something that works for you and if at this point in time a focus activity is not possible then dont do it. You will find that things get easier as the children get used to being in school all day and you and they get used to one another. Your little boy wont be helping the situation but in actual fact he may also not be aggrevating it too much either so forget your focus activity other than your group time and relax. Try and enjoy being with the children and getting to know them and things will hopefully improve and you will be able to introduce your focus activities when things settle. Do not be afraid of stopping the children and coming back to the carpet for short focus times there--perhaps singing and rhymes or a story. You could break your afternnon at least once.

Also what are you demanding of the children in the morning? Perhaps you could modify your expectations there too and they might cope with more in the afternoon?

Whatever happens follow your instincts, make expectations (rules etc) that are achievable for your own sanity and for the children and things will settle. You can extend your expectations as time progresses to. Reception classes should be continually evolving, not be a battle to get the children to conform.


Hope that makes sense and is a help. Good luck.

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It will get better - believe me! :) You're probably feeling a bit of a failure because you have all these wonderful things planned but never get to do them. It happens to us all!! You know that saying that actors have about never working with children - there's a good reason for that. xD The important thing is to try and turn it around by asking yourself what you have managed to acheive and not dwelling too much on what you haven't managed. Try to take things one day at a time and small improvements will come but don't expect too much of either yourself or the children. Also, don't be afraid to ask for help. None of us should feel we have to struggle on alone.


As to the cold and sore throat - I always swear by hot milk with honey and butter and a big hug. :D The hug is on it's way........ :o

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Cold felt much worse today... :o my eyes just start streaming without warning. I actually had a very good session with the morning children today. I have lots of repeating patterns for my wall display (the focus was to use fruit and veg printing to make repeating patterns. The peppers look ace. The afternoon wasn't as bad as yesterday...but we had a student in today, and she really made a difference just being there to help supervise. I think i should become a student haven...they can all come and help, just so I can get my numbers up. I am not going to fret for the next few days, or i will never get better. I am going to have an early night tonight, and hopefully I will be a bit better in the morning.

Thanks for the hugs and well wishes. :D

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