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Free Flow


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I work in a school that has two reception classes. We are very successful in that the children acheive high scores on the foundation stage profiles due in part to coming from middle class, professional backgrounds and having strong parental support.

 

I am concerned that our lessons are too formal, more suitable to year 1 lessons than foundation stage. When we have in school observations it is expected that the children will be given set tasks relevant to the learning objective and to be clearly able to discuss what they are learning and talk about the success criteria. Heavy going! We do 'do' child initiated but as a separate discrete session.

 

I would like to ask other reception teachers how they organise their lessons. How can we develop a more free flow and what does that look like? If I am working with a focus group am I able to give some of the other children more scope to explore and discover independently? How would this fit in with the learning objective and the children being able to talk about next steps? What does an outstanding lesson look like in a Reception class?

 

Any advice?

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Am sure there are a lot more people on here who can offer you better support than me but didn't want you to think you were being ignored! Sometimes it's challenging the thinking of the people around you to make free flow more acceptable; one suggestion I once heard was to remove all tables from your setting for a day, it really makes you look at your environment with fresh eyes and think how you can set it up as free flow, you do later bring tables back but if your setting doesn't look like a formal classroom it helps to stop it feeling like one. For your set objectives you can have a challenge card in each area eg mathematical challenge in water etc so the children are completing the tasks when they choose to be in that area. Hope this makes sense and gives you a bit of food for thought.

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I was just wondering about your observations? Who is it that is observing you? It sounds at first glance like you are being observed by someone who is not familair with Early Years practice?!

 

I have the same problem, I work in a small school where I manage the FS team - which is me and my 2 TAs as we don't have a pre-school or nursery attached to the school. The problem is that our SLT don't know a great deal about the EYFS. When I'm observed by my head she always tells me I'm doing a good job but I'd like to hear that from someone who knows what good EYFS practice is! And also to pick up on your last point about what an outstanding session looks like - my head can't really give me any pointers on what I can do to improve. Sorry to have gone off on a tangent but what you said rang so many bells with me!

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Mmm food for thought. I love the idea of taking the tables away for a day, I'm going to try that next week. I also like the idea of setting challenges in different areas.

 

To answer your question Jess, I am observed by my Foundation Stage Manager. She too cannot tell me what excellent looks like. The observation criteria did spark off a lot of discussion between us because I want to embrace a more free- flow approach but she feels it would not be focussed enough and that I would not be moving the children on to their next steps to learning in every lesson. I think Ofsted would disagree and frown on us for being too formal.

 

I think I'm going to try allowing one of my independent groups to free flow while my TA and I work with focus groups (in a playful way of course). A sort of compromise.

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I think you sound more clued up than your manager!

 

Just reading your last comment that's what we do. We have 3 adults: one does a group activity and makes sure each of the 4 groups does it, one runs an activity that the children can do if they want as many times as they want, and the third does either observations or the must-do jobs like reading books, and we all swap around each day. It works well but I'm not sure it's right!!!

 

I think you're right about Ofsted seeing you as too formal. I had a CLL advisor in last half term and she was concerned that from an inspectors point of view some of what I was doing with my more able children was too much like Year 1 work. I did defend myself saying that she was watching me with my most able children and I was giving them what I thought was an appropriate challenge, and that because I had no one at school who could comment on my practice..... think she took my point!

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