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Transition To Year 1


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We had our first year of real EYFS values last year, free flow, designated and organised areas of learning, play based learning with some structured/teacher based learning - children were fantastic and had a great year. They had made heaps of progress and were producing a really good standard of work. We had come away from the 'getting them ready for year 1' line and year 1 spent time seeing what we were doing so that they could replicate it as much as possible for the first half term to ease transition. All sounds good, really positive I'm sure you'll agree.

 

However, they have started the year being far more formal than that, the children commenting on the fact that they don't get to play as much in year 1 as they did in year R. Now my view is that is transition is good they shouldn't notice things like that. It feels like the children are being given a hard time for not being able to cope in that more structured/formal environment. I was even feeling like i'd let them down, as maybe if we'd started to be more formal/structured then it wouldn't be such a shock to them. It's as if they can't think in a different way and are continuing to work in the same way as it's always been! They're even doing whole class handwriting in proper books - most of their writing would be too big to cope with that so what's the point!!!

 

Anyway I think I may need to talk to our head who was such a driving force behind the changes we've made as I need to find out his viewpoint and also put forward mine as I feel very strongly about this - they were such a fantastic group of children but seem to be being thought about in a real negative way because they can't cope with the formality - they are 5!!!!

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Having been the reception teacher I can empathise.

As the year 1 teacher, in my school, I have neither the space nor the resources to work as informally as I would like although I am struggling to get my room resorted to allow a more friendly approach and to get the " work" done. Its surprising how difficult it actually is though! Also having taught my last class for 5 terms, I am in a similar position as the yr2 teacher is finding them really hard work and I suspect they are not showing her their best work either, which is really demoralising as I know how hard I worked and they did too and also of the potential of those children.

Its definitely a whole school issue and one your head, assuming you are right that he wants to move forward in this way, needs to take up with the year 1 staff, to ensure they both understand what is expected and that they have the resources to work in that way.

Hope your chat goes well.

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The year 1 teacher in our school is really trying to follow the EYFS ethos and as much as she can, due to space restrictions, has areas of learning around the class and the children have CI time within many of the timetabled sessions.

This is the first year she has tried it after being more formal last year and she feels the children are happier and more settled, are finding the transition easy to handle and they are just getting on with it. She has also commented she is able to work better with small groups as there are less interuptions from children saying what shall I do next, what do I need to do now etc. She also says she wishes she had started last year like this!

 

As a former year 1 teacher I agree it is difficult as unfortunately there is always the top down pressure of preparing them for SAT's and more formal learning situations however they are still only 5 and 6 years of age and if they get turned off from learning now it will only lead to problems in the future.

 

Is there any way you can speak to the year 1 teacher and maybe offer her some resources to use in the class during the children's 'play/ choosing time'? I think speaking to the head is a good idea but unfortunately it may be too late for anything to happen this year. Good luck with it all.

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Thanks for your replies and I agree year 1 have that hard balancing act between EYFS and being ready for the more formal year 2. I would love to be able to talk to the year 1 teachers but unfortunately one them has been there for years and is on the SM team. The other is an NQT who's last teaching practice was in year 4 so is following the other's lead. I may try to speak to them though but they seem to be stuck in mould. I would really just like to know the head's opinion but considering we were observed twice in the summer term and our targets were not linked to the lack of structure in fact he was really positive about seeing the children showing their learning through play/self chosen activities.

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We have the same problem - a year 1 teacher who has done it forever and is on the SM team. I have been trying for five years to change but to no avail. It breaks my heart when I see my children from last year sitting down doing formal learning and not being allowed to undertake child initiaited activities - ever - activities are put out and children are still directed of what to do with them and the outcome they should have. I had to bite my tongue on Friday when the year 1 teacher was talking about the children 'just getting things out' things they wanted to play with and how she shouted at them for not asking 'you don't use anything without asking' at 1pm on a Friday it just wasnt worth getting into an argument about but I just wanted to yell at her - saying what I don't know but I just wanted to yell!! You see the way the children are is all my fault as I didn't teach them properly last year - no worksheets, no constant sitting, no maths workbooks, no daily handwriting , no keeping them on the carpet for 40 minutes each session - its a constant dig which after a while gets to you but the piece of knowledge that I keep at the front of my mind is that those children had a good start to school, they had fun and they were learning, I know I did a good job.

 

Keep persevering - I am counting down the days till she retires - 12 months to go!!!

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  • 2 weeks later...

I know exactly how you feel! Last year I had the most wonderful Reception class. It was the fact that I let go completely and let the children have the freedom to choose what they wanted to do and find their resources that led to me finding out how creative and well motivated they were. They loved being outside and the free-flow system allowed for those children to learn where they were best suited. They had to be reminded about tidying up after themselves (as all children do), but on the whole I felt I had done a good job - they enjoyed school and had become very independent and active learners. One month in Year one and I hear such awful things being said about them I have to bite my tongue. They are being labelled as a nightmare class as they 'are always out of their seats and getting things out!' It does make me so sad to think that the children were probably being told off for doing what I'd encouraged them to do. Arghhh!! I think we have a long way to go before our Transition is on track but I am determined to do right by these children!

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Well things have moved on in the last week or so. I have since found out that although they aren't doing child initiated learning in the true sense of the word they are doing a plan do review type system with groups being called out to work with the adults. I think the teacher in question has actually realised they are not actually as poor as she was making out - maybe she was having a bad couple of days. The other teacher, an NQT, was observed the other day and it did cause a few issues as her mentor, from year 2, thinks that there is no reason why all children can't be working at the same time and was even suggesting they do the in my opinion waste of time worksheets which she doesn't normally think should be used. Through this observation feedback she has basically caused a few ructions with the other year 1 teacher as it sounded like her professional judgement was being brought in to question. Anyway she spoke to the head about it today and he has said do what you think is right, you're a good teacher etc... SO hopefully things will start to improve and the atmosphere will start to get better again now.

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I am a teacher who has worked in a several primary schools and in a special school.

 

The atmosphere amongst the staff and in the staff room at the special school was completely different and it was such a lovely place to work that I stayed for several years.

I often reflected on what made the staff so different and it boiled down to a lack of competitiveness.

 

The worst school I worked in had a mainly younger, large staff who verbally competed in the staff room to describe how they were licking their 'awful' class into shape. The same people felt they knew best on playground duty and were very dictatorial in assemblies thereby demonstrating what a great 'command' of the children they had. The children were just pawns in their power game.

 

I always now endeavour to build a staff team ethos of support where I work.If you've got a good idea share it. If you're(the year 1 teacher)) so good at sorting out the 'difficult' class then run a staff meeting on your methods (a good chance for the rest of the staff to question the approach and suggest their own methods!)

Maybe play dumb and ask for a staff meeting where you can look at the 'flow' for a child as they move through the school. Maybe together as a staff team you could formalize what you all agree are the expectations of behaviour/carpet time/child initiated activities in each year group.

I think one thing that Ofsted look at is 'what is it like to be a child here?' and it should be the same experience for them whichever year 1 class they are in, with the same whole school agreed expectations.

 

We once had twins who were separated (parents request) into the two parallel classes. That really kept us on our toes and flagged up differences in approach, rules, how often they read to the teacher etc.

 

Let's fly the flag for supportive 'you can borrow mine' type staff rooms!

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Oh Edlee - I know just what you mean about competitive staffrooms! I have experienced it in my time too - sometimes I wanted to shake them and sometimes I just wanted to cry - but if you get a good one it makes you want to sing! (actually, that would make everybody else cry - my singing is painful:) Anyway you sound lovely and I love that the forum is like a very big, very sharey staffroom....... I feel a song coming on!

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Oh my... think this is an issue everywhere! I certainly have problems at my school too. I know the head is behind the whole ethos and it certainly helps!... It is the national intention that Foundation stage extends to yr 2 in the future and steps towards this have already been made towards this with year one now using the EYFSP to guage childrens understanding if they are not achieving a NC level (instead of P levels)

 

My 1st port of call is to look at transition policy. It is on my never ending to do list! I know the present transition policy is not appropriate and need to develop this.

 

DOES ANYONE HAVE A TRANSITION POLICY THEY ARE PREPARED TO SHARE? Would be muchly appreciated. :o

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I have just started job sharing a Reception/Year 1 class in a village school, where up to now there has been a very formal approach for Rec and Y1 (aaagghh!) I am doing my best to implement the EYFS properly and the Y1s are getting the benefit of this too, with lots of CI time for everyone. Luckily we have a new head who is v supportive. The other day 2 of the Y1 boys (who do not want to write during adult led activities) voluntarily went into the writing area and wrote a letter to The Big Bad Wolf!! They were sat together discussing what they were going to write and sounding out the words - I could have cried I was so pleased. Lots of objectives being fulfilled and not a work sheet in sight! The only trouble is, I'm not sure the children are getting the same approach on the days I'm not there... I'm working on it though!

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Just when I think things are getting better and I'm being told that it works better when children are working with an adult a group at a time with the others having CI time I walk into Y1 today to encounter whole class writing with the year 1 teacher moaning that half of them couldn't work independently! Surprise surprise!!! She was nagging them to get on etc... I did say to her that all my year 2 classes were like this at the beginning of the year so it's not really surprising that they are like it in October of year 1! She did actually agree but I don't think it will change :o

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Well done Kittykat for sticking to what you know is right.

 

There are teachers in my school with very similar attitudes, who claim that reception children should start being prepared for year 1 during the last term at the latest. "I had all of mine sat at their desks for everything for the last half term" one told me. :o

 

Here's really hoping that the views of Jim Rose's Primary review (to extend Early Years into Year 1) will be adopted. I really think that this will happen. The Alexander report research also shows that children need to start the formal learning later- when they are ready.

 

We are all caring professionals and we can all personalise and differentiate wherever we need to.

 

Lets hope xD

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