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Responsive / Retrospective Planning


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Hi

Sorry this is a long one but I am in a quandary at the moment.

At our setting for the past couple of years we have been moving steadily towards a much more flexible , responsive style of planning that involves staff engaging fully with the children during each session and allowing spontaneous 'activities' to simply happen as we go along...e.g. a child is playing with a doll..an adult joins in and the baby play develops as several other children join in the adult suggests doll needs a bath or needs to go to nursery..this idea is taken forward moving into different areas of the room etc..maybe lasting an hour or so...and eventually involving several children.

 

Or a child asks to play a game..adult joins in, so do several others..others wait for a turn..play continues for 30 mins..etc etc

 

All the time adults are supporting and extending and observing / assessing what is going on...developing moment by moment responses to enrich the play and learning...

 

Then we note down briefly what happened, who was involved (and individual obs in more detail for children who were most involved or who we identify need more support / input)...this all happens after the event...and informs the ideas for the next session / day...and so it goes on. At the end of each week we often have 15 or so 'activities / experiences ' recorded and linked to areas of learning. Most of them starting off child initiated.

 

We do have continuous provision in place and possible learning outcomes identified for each area...we do plan possible adult led experiences (a circle time / focus activity as well as snack and tidy up time) but many change according to the events of the session..or simply get abandoned because the ongoing play is so rich and valuable we don't want to stop it...

 

We focus on two areas of learning each week and set up enhancements to areas to ensure resources offered support those areas. We might consider some general group objectives for the areas of learning but usually identify which areas we have actually addressed (and individual children have) at the end of the week.

 

Okay so that's how we do it...now the issue I have is that we have new staff who have come from more structured settings that seem to have required a great deal more planning / advance objectives, 'topics' and teaching children shapes, letters, numbers..etc (which okay are important but are only a very small part of the EYFS curriculum!) and now I am under pressure to put more structure and objectives back into the planning.

 

This comes from my chair who is being told by new staff that when they have put forwards ideas like an 'activity based on writing names' or about 'doing a topic on...' I have not been very receptive.

This is true - but not, I feel, in a horrible way - I've tried to explain why I'm reluctant and tried to justify / explain how we often do those things and address those areas by taking our lead from the children and integrating it into their play...so there are no plans for it in advance..but it will be recorded when it happens (though they are not I'm afraid the main focus of what we do or the be all and end all! - I am not concerned for example if children are not writing their names when they leave us as long as they are beginning to show an interest in mark making, attempt to use a pencil correctly and recognise their name).

The chair and new staff are now questioning whether what we do is 'good enough' and whether the children are being supported enough. I feel they are - yes there are some areas we need to work on (mainly key person observation / planning input and tracking children's needs) but the planning itself I feel is sound and works well...I love it and I don't want to go back to having to write plans every weekend or holiday! Its not just the fact there is less paper work either - in fact we have more 'evidence' than ever to choose from... :o

 

However I am now beginning to doubt myself and wonder if I'm wrong...is it too flexible...? I do have over 10 years experience and we have planned many ways but I've never felt so enthusiastic about planning and how it fits the children, more than us, until now. I feel these other settings are still not 'getting it' ...to me it sounds like they are more like reception...one member of staff was shocked that some of our children don't know how to 'write their name' or 'know their shapes'. I was concerned to think it was an expectation because thats not how I read the EYFS!

 

We haven't had ofsted in since we started doing it this way but until now I was confident they'd be okay with it as it takes children interests and child initiated play as the basis and builds on that through positive responsive relationships with staff and an enabling environment. I hope I am right...that'd solve the problem! But until then how do I convince the others and resist the pressure....? Or, having read this, do you feel they are right?

 

Any and all comments appreciated!

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Didn't want to read and run - but it's late for me to answer this fully...

 

I'm in a similar situation to you, and we run our planning very much like you decribe. I do come up with regular conflicts from 2 staff as to why we can't have set topics............and sometimes I just feel so ground down to the point where I just want to give in and let them (but I don't!!).

 

I shall follow this post and add more.

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trekker the problem you have here is not that you are doing anything wrong, but that you need to be able to communicate the rationale for what you do effectively to people who are used to a much more structured planning system than you adopt. Your system sounds wonderful to me - and I am sure that when Mrs Ofsted does come a-calling she will be delighted with it too.

 

Can you enlist the support of your LA development worker to come and talk at a staff meeting about how your planning supports children's learning and development and how going back to a structured planning system would be a retrograde step and not in the spirit of the EYFS?

 

Perhaps staff are unhappy at their ideas being rejected at all, and not the manner in which you do it? If they are used to having topics to work around it can be scary for practitioners to suddenly have to rely on their own skills and knowledge of how to support children's learning rather than 'teaching' if you see what I mean. Perhaps they don't value child initiated learning and need the safety net of a carefully planned activity to enable children to meet an early learning goal or development matters statement?

 

It sounds as if you need a frank discussion between the team about the benefits of supporting child initiated vs adult directed play and learning? Is there a training need here that needs to be addressed before certain staff can be as effective as the rest of the team? I imagine that if children are used to the kind of learning environment you have fostered within your setting they won't take kindly to being dragged away from the high level play they are engaged in to take part in adult-led activities anyway!

 

Sorry if I've rambled - hang on in there! What you do sounds wonderful and I'm sure if I could have demonstrated all that to Mrs O this week I'd have been Outstanding!

 

Maz

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Guest jenpercy
trekker the problem you have here is not that you are doing anything wrong, but that you need to be able to communicate the rationale for what you do effectively to people who are used to a much more structured planning system than you adopt. Your system sounds wonderful to me - and I am sure that when Mrs Ofsted does come a-calling she will be delighted with it too.

 

Can you enlist the support of your LA development worker to come and talk at a staff meeting about how your planning supports children's learning and development and how going back to a structured planning system would be a retrograde step and not in the spirit of the EYFS?

 

Perhaps staff are unhappy at their ideas being rejected at all, and not the manner in which you do it? If they are used to having topics to work around it can be scary for practitioners to suddenly have to rely on their own skills and knowledge of how to support children's learning rather than 'teaching' if you see what I mean. Perhaps they don't value child initiated learning and need the safety net of a carefully planned activity to enable children to meet an early learning goal or development matters statement?

 

It sounds as if you need a frank discussion between the team about the benefits of supporting child initiated vs adult directed play and learning? Is there a training need here that needs to be addressed before certain staff can be as effective as the rest of the team? I imagine that if children are used to the kind of learning environment you have fostered within your setting they won't take kindly to being dragged away from the high level play they are engaged in to take part in adult-led activities anyway!

 

Sorry if I've rambled - hang on in there! What you do sounds wonderful and I'm sure if I could have demonstrated all that to Mrs O this week I'd have been Outstanding!

 

Maz

If you bring in items from outside, which you change regularly, you do offer planning for topics, although the actual end result may not be what you originally had in mind. If you bought in guttering for an investigation of how things roll down slopes etc, and then the children used them as structure for dens. Rotten example, but that could be how you find a mutual point over planning.

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I think what you are doing sounds spot on.

 

I believe firmly that one size does not fit all and that each setting will find what suits them for planning.

 

The staff you talk of sound as if they are used to so much more structure that your way is scary for them................

 

I think all the information we gather should be seen through the children and their play and we build on interests like name writing and naming shapes when each child is ready not because that day someone deemed it was on the planning to do!!

 

Maybe some training for staff to overcome what appear to be THEIR worries??

 

You are doing a fab job.

 

Don't doubt yourself.

 

Mrs Ofsted likes to know you can fully and utterly justify what and how you do things................. and it seems to me right now you can!!

 

Good luck :o

Edited by Scarlettangel
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I think your planning sounds wonderful!

 

You do begin to doubt yourself sometimes don't you. It seems that maybe your new staff aren't as experienced as you, maybe don't have a real understaning of the way children learn, the thought processes etc???

 

I agree - get them on some training ASAP.

Remember you are the one in charge of the childrens learning in your setting, don't give in the children deserve the best experiences we can give them.

 

Have faith trekker - and good luck!

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Hi

 

you are doing great.

sounds just what we are doing, we had ofsted on thurs and she was happy with it, said it was good

 

i wonder if the new staff need more training or if they are right for your setting? i have had it in the past that staff are not willing to change, and there has been a lot of them. one kept bringing in work sheets and got humpy when i said not doing them any more!

 

good luck

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Sounds like what you are doing with regards to planning is absolutely fantastic! Don't let yourself be dragged back into outdated methods, make sure you are the one leading them forwards!

 

I love what I do, I love being with the children but I find that I have no time to manage or lead (or to think much about how to go about it!) and it stresses me out knowing that I need to do it, want to be able to do it but cant do it because of the lack of time, opportunity to put strategies in place (....I barely have time to talk to anyone in the session - certainly not for any length of time...I am so focused on the children) and the biggest of all - lack of confidence.

 

I've just taken this from PPPs thread and brought it hear to comment on so that one didn't get side-tracked. With regards to lack of confidence is there some sort of management training you can go on? That would probably really help you think about new way s of leading and give you more confidence in how to do it.

 

Also with regards to being so focussed on the children that you don't have time to talk to anyone, perhaps that is something you need to work on. It's great that you are focussed on the children and it's obvious you don't want to be the sort of manager who just 'manages' and doesn't take a role in the children's learning, but since you are the manager perhaps this is something you need to do occasionally. Perhaps you could take a day, or two seperate half days, a week where you step back a little from the children and focus on your staff. This might seem strange at first and your initial reaction might be that 'the children are the most important thing' but that is really the main point of doing this. The children are the most important thing and it's important for them that they have a group of staff who are all pulling in the same direction and who are all confident with the excellent methods you are using. Your staff obviously need your input and to share your expertise so that they too can provide the children with the best experiences possible.

 

You should try it out, perhaps by starting with taking staff aside during a session (perhaps when someone else is doing something adult led) and discussing things with them. Perhaps you could sit down before hand and write out some bullet points about why you plan the way you do. Learn these and then when you are talking with the staff and justifying your methods you have these ready to trip lightly off your tongue rather than getting lost in their arguments. It does sounds like one of the problems might be that staff feel you aren't taking enough time to listen to their suggestions (from what you say about the complaints to the chair and the fact that you mentioned not having time to talk to them) so if you can set aside time for a frank and open discussion that goes on as long as they need it to (within reason!) then you might find that they feel much better about everything and will start pulling their weight better.

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After a good nights sleep I'm back!

 

One thing I did do was like Maz suggested- and actually got our development worker in to do some trainning session. This supported me in the fact the staff realised it was not just my 'airy fairy' ideas!!!

 

Over time most of the staff have changed, I just have one (who sometimes manages to get one other member on her side) who will always try and get 'set pre-planned topics' back on the agenda.

 

One way I have overcome this is by pointing out that I am not against topics as such - but they must stem from a child's interest and not just 'out of the hat' as it were. I have demonstrated this and we have had a few mini topics going. What I have noticed though- it is these 1 or 2 staff members that have difficulty in acuatally spotting children's interests that they can develop. Although I must say one of these staff members has finially got it and this week she is running a 'den workshop' which is fantastic and I know the children are going to love tomorrows set up!!! (we are pack-away group).

 

My other hardcore staff member is a strange case- and another story altogether!!!! Not in such a bad way though. xx

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dont change it please - you are spot on with what you are doing xD try to enlist the help of your LA to help you expalin why you are doing it this way to your staff and committee - good luck :o hang in there .....

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Sounds great.

 

As an outsider to pre school, can you introduce some small group times at the start of your session to allow more focused, planned activities to take place before moving on to your wonderful engaging freer time?

 

I am a liitle confused about observations too--how can you write them afterwards? Could you have a rota?

 

I also think that you need to encourage your newer staff to take a look at the children and their engagment. IF you have a room full of children displaying major behaviou problems you havent got it right, if your children are engaged and motivated and behaviour is good, you are on the right tracks. It sounds to me as if the latter is definitely in place or you wouldnt be able to evidence the things you say you can!

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Thanks for all your replies..this has put some of my concerns to rest... this week I've felt like the majority of staff (and chair) do feel its

 

just my 'airy fairy' ideas!!!

 

and that I'm shirking my duties.

I did ask one member of staff after a discussion about writing names whether what we did was really so different...the reply was an emphatic "Yesss!" :o

...another member isn't even convinced we follow the EYFS because there are not reams of pre planned objectives and checklists...

the chair now feels these staff are 'on the ball' (they have about 2 years experience, most of it in placements) and is very taken with their ideas for more structure / group work...which makes me feel uncomfortable as it looks like I am trying to take an easy option.

In fact the way it works now is a lot more intensive and requires staff to be fully 'there' for the children throughout the session (not just adult led times) and to be 'observing, planning, assessing and responding' almost continuously!

On their side yes the new staff do have a good grasp of the development matters statements and EYFS in general - more so than some existing staff! - but its the methods I'm concerned by and the emphasis on what a child doesn't know or cant do rather than what they do know and can do!

 

I have considered asking an 'independent' advisor to come in and talk through our approach and to discuss this with myself and the chair initially so that she understands I am, at least in this aspect (!) on the right path...and then I will hopefully have her back up in future regarding the planning as I work with staff and challenge their old methods. I think they will BUT only if all staff are on board, carrying it out consistently and able to justify it...THATS the big issue I have that might pull us down and time is short!

 

Also with regards to being so focussed on the children that you don't have time to talk to anyone, perhaps that is something you need to work on. It's great that you are focussed on the children and it's obvious you don't want to be the sort of manager who just 'manages' and doesn't take a role in the children's learning, but since you are the manager perhaps this is something you need to do occasionally. Perhaps you could take a day, or two separate half days, a week where you step back a little from the children and focus on your staff...

... It does sounds like one of the problems might be that staff feel you aren't taking enough time to listen to their suggestions (from what you say about the complaints to the chair and the fact that you mentioned not having time to talk to them) so if you can set aside time for a frank and open discussion that goes on as long as they need it to (within reason!) then you might find that they feel much better about everything and will start pulling their weight better.

 

Yes I agree - I do have a lot of work to do and I guess I am going to have to sacrifice time spent with the children..hopefully just for a while.

I have considered myself to be leading by example here but I guess I need to try and make that fact more evident and although I'm a better do-er and writer than I am a talker - I need to get regular supervision meetings in place to allow discussion too...I've tried in staff meetings but no one has spoken up about the fact they are obviously harbouring 'issues' (this was why the chair has had to fill me in..) so maybe in one to one situations they might? I think it'll be just as good for me as them in the long run...though another thing to do!

 

I do recognise that it is scary for them...and that it possibly feels like they are not doing enough (considering what they did do) or perhaps its too much to do and they'd rather have a session with everything pre-planned by the 'manager' ?. Their other concern I think is whether Ofsted will be okay with it - and that is just something we have to wait and see...because in truth the settings they come from had good reports ...so with the chair especially I'm up against that too..the belief that if it worked there it must be right!

 

But anyway - thanks again..your input has been very helpful and very reassuring! xD

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Guest jenpercy

I have come to the conclusion that 'leading by example' just doesn't work unless everyone is on board anyway. Make time to talk to everyone -and don't undersetimate the importance of having a deputy (or a chair) who will let you know how you impact on others by your management style. Many times my Deputy has said something like X feels undervalued, or that you didn't really take her suggestions on board - I know that's just how you came across BUT. Worth her weight n gold that woman!

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I also think that you are 'spot on' with regards to your retrospective planning in response to childrens interests and initiation. Sounds very much like Te Whariki (Sp?) from New Zealand.

Maybe if your staff take photographs of these interactions, record what they children do and say and link it to developmental milestones / EYFS and display these for parents, other staff (and Chair!) to see, they will begin to understand how the children are developing/learning?

I also think it may be a good idea to gather evidence that you are following accepted best practice from the EYFS online site, and theorists etc, and present it to your chair.

Also, maybe worth looking at recent Ofsted reports online and highlighting relevant outstanding practice ?

 

Next thing you know they'll be asking you to get children copying over dotted lines for their names :o

 

Sorry, just re-read your post and see that you do record the activities.

Edited by Guest
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i think all of us are shooting in the dark at the moment regarding planning etc. until some more of us have had Mrs O to visit (with the help of people like happy Maz hopefully we will be more informed!) we have had no training in our area as regards EYFS and i have had virtually no help so no idea weather you or i are doing it right :o

I am really concerned that your staff are going to the chair though -i would be mortified and furious if any of my team did that.......have you done their appraisals yet or could you do an interim one soon. You need to divide and conquer (like the army do!) and get to the root of the issues. I delegate resposibilities to all the team - this might give them food for thought when they are in charge of a particular section of the business, they would then have to REALLY look at the eyfs and justify their decisions.

I do think that this time of year is very difficult the children are all unsettled apart from the adults and with all the funding problems too....aaarrrggghhh! who said this job was easy! you just have to sell your ethos and back it up with info.

chin up! ah monday morning.....now where's that list that's as long as my arm...... xD:(

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Just to say that I've managed to work much more like this this year in my reception class (possibly due to the fact that we've only had 20 children rather than 30 xD ). It is different in reception, for all the reasons I'm sure you already know, but just to reassure you that the EYFS is being followed in this way in Reception settings too!! I'm sure I'm not the only one...?

 

Anyway, my experience has been that my TA was VERY cautious about moving with children's interests rather than following pre-planned topics, but she has had to sit through it and join in - I've been very gentle with her, but she has found it tricky.... BUT now she loves it and really sees why I've been so keen on working in this way. So much so that I have been inthe middle of a dinosaur egg 'topic' from children finding lots of tiny rocks (long story, don't ask!) for the last week, and she has come to me and pointed out that while the egg thing is great, it seems to be moving into birds and nests, and look, W has brought in a nest from home and the other children love it and I really think we should follow this up.... All from her. I was so chuffed. What I am trying to say is that over time, she has seen how well it has worked and how exciting it is for everyone to work in this way.

 

I have a question, though. Next year I am moving from teaching my class of 20 to a position as EYFS leader in a 5 (5!!!!!! :o ) form entry primary school. I wonder if anyone has any comments or suggestions about how such a system might work in such a large setting with 5 teachers and 150 children? I'm wondering how much of a requirement there is, in terms of equality of opportunity, for the 5 classes to be doing broadly similar things. Or whether we should work as one huge group and if a couple of children have a sudden interest in space, to open it up to the 5 classes, and be really flexible about who works where, with real fluidity between the classes depending on children's shared interests. When I envisage that it seems unmanageable... Or at least daunting! Alternatively we could be completely separate, and keep the interests solely in our own classes. Perhap someone could describe for me what a middle ground might look like!

 

Wondered if anyone had any thoughts?

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Hi emmajess.....yes I am aware, and very glad, that there are some of you out there in reception who are working more flexibly...sorry I shouldn't have generalised!

It's just that when ever I've visited my local reception classes over the past couple of years Ive been surprised about how they do not seem to have embraced the EYFS at all...very frustrating for us and for the children when they go up and have to suddenly conform to the unnecesary restrictions and mindless 'worksheets and 'fluffy duck' craft exercises! xD

They've tried to get our children doing these when we visit and its so funny to see them trying to get children all doing the same...even down to moving their peices for them (!) while I am encouraging them to think "how would you like to use this?" or even "would you like to try something else?" :o

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Just to say that I've managed to work much more like this this year in my reception class (possibly due to the fact that we've only had 20 children rather than 30 xD ). It is different in reception, for all the reasons I'm sure you already know, but just to reassure you that the EYFS is being followed in this way in Reception settings too!! I'm sure I'm not the only one...?

 

Anyway, my experience has been that my TA was VERY cautious about moving with children's interests rather than following pre-planned topics, but she has had to sit through it and join in - I've been very gentle with her, but she has found it tricky.... BUT now she loves it and really sees why I've been so keen on working in this way. So much so that I have been inthe middle of a dinosaur egg 'topic' from children finding lots of tiny rocks (long story, don't ask!) for the last week, and she has come to me and pointed out that while the egg thing is great, it seems to be moving into birds and nests, and look, W has brought in a nest from home and the other children love it and I really think we should follow this up.... All from her. I was so chuffed. What I am trying to say is that over time, she has seen how well it has worked and how exciting it is for everyone to work in this way.

 

I have a question, though. Next year I am moving from teaching my class of 20 to a position as EYFS leader in a 5 (5!!!!!! :o ) form entry primary school. I wonder if anyone has any comments or suggestions about how such a system might work in such a large setting with 5 teachers and 150 children? I'm wondering how much of a requirement there is, in terms of equality of opportunity, for the 5 classes to be doing broadly similar things. Or whether we should work as one huge group and if a couple of children have a sudden interest in space, to open it up to the 5 classes, and be really flexible about who works where, with real fluidity between the classes depending on children's shared interests. When I envisage that it seems unmanageable... Or at least daunting! Alternatively we could be completely separate, and keep the interests solely in our own classes. Perhap someone could describe for me what a middle ground might look like!

 

Wondered if anyone had any thoughts?

 

 

I think you have an ideal opportunity to offer 5 mini themes, each teacher developing something that their class is interested in and allowing some flexibility and movement for all children to access whatever is on offer regardless of their "home base" interests. You may want to think about offering different curricular opportunities in different areas of your provision so that not all classes need to offer the same resources in terms of continuous provision--if that makes sense.

 

It will be hard work and to set up and get going but it will be worth while if you can make it work and you will need to have the majority of your staff behind you to succeed.

 

Emma I think this should be a topic in its own right within the reception forum. Can you start a new thread?

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  • 2 weeks later...

Oh it just gets worse...not only the planning getting slated now but also the cafe snack (they should have it altogether and should have to sit and wait for everyone to finish!) , the free flow, free access (they should have to ask for things!) ... basically they want structure, adults 'in charge'...:(:o

I feel so cross and frustrated.....I shouldnt have to be defending what we do to my own staff! xD:(:(

The evidence is all there...the requirements, research and guidance all support me....Its not like I haven't tried the things they want - seems like the dark ages now!!

 

Trouble is when I argue my case theres the defensive chorus of "but the parents want / expect it" and I know in most cases parents do as they don't understand either.

 

Feel like i'm being backed into a corner...but theres no way I can 'give in' to their demands.

Just want to scream...!!!!!!!!

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Oh it just gets worse...not only the planning getting slated now but also the cafe snack (they should have it altogether and should have to sit and wait for everyone to finish!) , the free flow, free access (they should have to ask for things!) ... basically they want structure, adults 'in charge'...:(:o

I feel so cross and frustrated.....I shouldnt have to be defending what we do to my own staff! xD:(:(

The evidence is all there...the requirements, research and guidance all support me....Its not like I haven't tried the things they want - seems like the dark ages now!!

 

Trouble is when I argue my case theres the defensive chorus of "but the parents want / expect it" and I know in most cases parents do as they don't understand either.

 

Feel like i'm being backed into a corner...but theres no way I can 'give in' to their demands.

Just want to scream...!!!!!!!!

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Hi,

 

I am shocked at what your chair etc are demanding of you, are you not employed by them because of your expertise and experience???

 

We run exactly the same as you and recently had an OFSTED inspection and came out with Outstanding in all areas, she commented on how fantastic our free flow practice was and how invaluable our staff are as resources. She particularly liked the the 'loose' planning and that our activities were either child initiated or had stemmed from observations we had made in the previous week.

 

I suggest the whole committee is gathered up along with the troublesome staff and sat in a room with an EYFS trainer/ OFSETD inspector!!

 

I hope all works out for you.x

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Trouble is when I argue my case theres the defensive chorus of "but the parents want / expect it" and I know in most cases parents do as they don't understand either.

 

Feel like i'm being backed into a corner...but theres no way I can 'give in' to their demands.

Just want to scream...!!!!!!!!

 

You and me both!!!

I know exactly how you feel - only you have the added bonus of actually getting to do cafe type snack!

 

I wish we had the opportunity to do parent workshops. or parent evenings- but our hall access doesn't allow for this. I have found that just recently parents are beginning to value the words 'learning through play' more -but we still have some that ask if children will be doing 'school work' though!!!

 

Somedays I feel so ground down that I just want to quit, just glad it the holidays.

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HiTrekker

It seems that there are a number of issues buzzing around for you at the moment, and I would try and break them down a little and tackle them one at a time.

Ill try and list them from the understanding I get from what you have said.

 

1. You mentined new staff. New staffing especially if more than one person, can really upset the dynamic of a team, and it may be worth you spending some time creating the vision you have with your new team..the Chair should be welcomed as part of this. This can be along the lines of looking at your SEF together or what other means you use to reflect on your practice. If this is already in place with acions or deveopment plans, then you have the things you are currently working on or developing and this can be shared with the new team, anticipating their comments and concerns.

 

2. I agree 1:1s with your staff as soon as, that is their opportunity to individually say what is bothering them, and may well be done best before 1 above.

 

3. Change is very hard to take for some people, and the role of play partner (or wahtever you call it) is a complex one for people who are not used to things being that way..who like everything to be 'just so'.. this can be highlighted as a training need in you 1:1s.

 

4. Try and get copies of 'Playing learning and Interacting' for all of your staff. This is very clear about good practice being about 'balance' and is a good opportunity to look at how your current practice meets that balance. There is also a section on the role of the adult, which may form the focus of a staff meeting, maybe including your LA advisor if possible? If you can get to the point where the staff can admit that they perhaps lack confidence in some things, (or even just dont 'get it')you are half way there, and you can then offer to suport them.

 

5. Parents. Yes I get this a lot when I visit settings. One thing I have done a lot of this year is to support settings to do parents workshops, which is one way of sharing setting practice with them so that they can begin to 'see' why you do things the way you do. This might be something you can suggest as part of getting that message across.

 

Good luck with it all, it will hopefully get easier in time.

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Hi all,

I've been reading this post with interest as we have just had feedback from parents via a questionnaire and have ongoing issues with a couple of staff who insist upon ignoring/disregarding anything i recommend as manager.

They do the same 'topics' complete with identical precut craft year in year out, still insist upon too many tables (graphics table, numeracy table etc) despite having wonderful open-ended resources units in the room. Every time a children mentions something (cars, babies, animals) the staff get everything out so they end up with so much stuff it's difficult to see what if any learning is occurring. Their children are all the year before their preschool year so some just turning 3 - only 12 in their room with freeflow to the garden and the preschool room when they open their doors and end their adult led activities, usually an hour into the 2.5 hr session which also ends with a 20 minute adult led session and whole group rather than cafe style snack.

My fear is that they've completely misunderstood the EYFS and make so much available to the children that there is little valuable learning occurring with some of the chn in their group still very clingy, unable to choose and needing guidance throughout their sessions whereas in the p/s room the children have made enormous progress are wonderfully independent, imaginative in their learning and clearly enjoying their time with us.

All of the staff feel bogged down with paperwork and , on advice from our EYFSA, we'll be having all chns files available in the rooms for parents/carers to add to as and when, shared key children and possibly key person displays. Another idea was to use the noticeboards as photo displays to show what the children have done that week as most feedback said they didn't read the notice boards because they were too cluttered.

Parents asked to know what topics were in advance and requested feedback about what their child had done each day. We have 80 children coming through our 2 groups each week, 22 in one room per session and 12 in the other (2 sessions in each room per day with flexible hours) so you can imagine just how impossible this would be, hence the files in the rooms with accessibility to parents/carers and post-its available for them to add to their own chns files and the 'in your face' photo boards.

I've no idea if this will work; the issues between the 2 rooms will be addressed when the staff are moved around, the learning and devt documents will be updated on the computer so less pressure for those staff with poor english and those staff with poor grammar/spelling. As part of ECAT I've asked each member of staff to produce a 'talking bag' for small group work and each day will have opportunities for all staff to work in small groups to get more focussed obs which will be written up straight away. Individual targets will be monitored on a target wall so that each key person can assess what they're targeting with individual children and choose their groups accordingly. The idea of 2 key people per child is for peer support, bounce ideas off each other and hopefully mean we'll be able to provide more consultations throughout the year on an adhoc basis.

 

I'm fortunate to have a very supportive committee and Chair who respect me as a manager and completely back up anything I feel will further improve our practice. Most of the team are enthusiastic but it only takes one or two to put doubt into everyone else's minds which then makes my job all the more challenging! I've asked for the 2 staff to attend EYFS training, they may listen to someone else and moving rooms will hopefully allow them to see the benefits of cafe snack, less whole group adult led time and that children learn much more with more carefully chosen resources than making absolutely everything available. You've made me think a weekly individual 'chat' with each staff member will encourage postive communication rather than letting things build up, on both sides.

 

It's such a shame when we get to this point in the year and it still feels as though we're wading through mud but new start for september, new families, new children and clean walls. Hopefuly everyone will return refreshed, excited and will have shaken off the jaded feeling of here we go again.

I hope things get better Trekker, as ever there's some great advice on here. Perhaps we ought to open this thread again at Christmas and compare notes - see if anything changed or if we're all still stuck with the same attitudes.

Sam

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Perhaps you could find some Ofsted reports that refer to things to support your case? Not that you should have to, but it may help if they see Ofsted commenting positively on things similar to how you do things? xx

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  • 2 weeks later...

Wow I don't know where to start!

You poor thing

Apart from agreeing with all the wise words already I'd like to make a couple of points...

What qualifications do your committee members have to decide that the new staff are on the ball? Do you have any past paperwork that would maybe back up how much better children are progressing with your new way of planning?

Topics are for the adults not the children. Do you have your own children? Do the committee members? Do they have topics at home? Of course not. Their children play with what interests them.

Both my children are very bright, both were able to read before going to school and not because I taught them to. because they loved books and made the connections between written words and meaning themselves and liked activities developing reading skills so I provided them. Neither showed any interest in writing and they were both only just starting to write their names when they went to school. My eldest is predicted all A*s in her GCSEs and the youngest has just done her year 2 SATs and was put in for the year 3 ones too which she got across the board and GASP they have developed to this standard without topics and without any proper planning of learning! It happened by their interest in learning being kept alive through things that interest them.

 

I think the crux of the matter here is that you know you are working to the EYFS appropriately and you need to get that across to the committee and staff involved. Of course parents want topics, sit down snacks and name-writing. That's what they think makes a good setting. Not true.

 

Are you confident enough to have a parents' meeting where you explain how the EYFS works and how much better it is than the good old days of super-structure?

I would happily help you write a workshop and I bet I'm not the only one here...

 

One other idea - do you have any quality assurance schemes you can join? That would prove ultimately what top job you do :o

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  • 2 weeks later...

Hi

Sorry this is a long one but I am in a quandary at the moment.

At our setting for the past couple of years we have been moving steadily towards a much more flexible , responsive style of planning that involves staff engaging fully with the children during each session and allowing spontaneous 'activities' to simply happen as we go along...e.g. a child is playing with a doll..an adult joins in and the baby play develops as several other children join in the adult suggests doll needs a bath or needs to go to nursery..this idea is taken forward moving into different areas of the room etc..maybe lasting an hour or so...and eventually involving several children.

 

Or a child asks to play a game..adult joins in, so do several others..others wait for a turn..play continues for 30 mins..etc etc

 

All the time adults are supporting and extending and observing / assessing what is going on...developing moment by moment responses to enrich the play and learning...

 

Then we note down briefly what happened, who was involved (and individual obs in more detail for children who were most involved or who we identify need more support / input)...this all happens after the event...and informs the ideas for the next session / day...and so it goes on. At the end of each week we often have 15 or so 'activities / experiences ' recorded and linked to areas of learning. Most of them starting off child initiated.

 

We do have continuous provision in place and possible learning outcomes identified for each area...we do plan possible adult led experiences (a circle time / focus activity as well as snack and tidy up time) but many change according to the events of the session..or simply get abandoned because the ongoing play is so rich and valuable we don't want to stop it...

 

We focus on two areas of learning each week and set up enhancements to areas to ensure resources offered support those areas. We might consider some general group objectives for the areas of learning but usually identify which areas we have actually addressed (and individual children have) at the end of the week.

 

Okay so that's how we do it...now the issue I have is that we have new staff who have come from more structured settings that seem to have required a great deal more planning / advance objectives, 'topics' and teaching children shapes, letters, numbers..etc (which okay are important but are only a very small part of the EYFS curriculum!) and now I am under pressure to put more structure and objectives back into the planning.

 

This comes from my chair who is being told by new staff that when they have put forwards ideas like an 'activity based on writing names' or about 'doing a topic on...' I have not been very receptive.

This is true - but not, I feel, in a horrible way - I've tried to explain why I'm reluctant and tried to justify / explain how we often do those things and address those areas by taking our lead from the children and integrating it into their play...so there are no plans for it in advance..but it will be recorded when it happens (though they are not I'm afraid the main focus of what we do or the be all and end all! - I am not concerned for example if children are not writing their names when they leave us as long as they are beginning to show an interest in mark making, attempt to use a pencil correctly and recognise their name).

The chair and new staff are now questioning whether what we do is 'good enough' and whether the children are being supported enough. I feel they are - yes there are some areas we need to work on (mainly key person observation / planning input and tracking children's needs) but the planning itself I feel is sound and works well...I love it and I don't want to go back to having to write plans every weekend or holiday! Its not just the fact there is less paper work either - in fact we have more 'evidence' than ever to choose from... :o

 

However I am now beginning to doubt myself and wonder if I'm wrong...is it too flexible...? I do have over 10 years experience and we have planned many ways but I've never felt so enthusiastic about planning and how it fits the children, more than us, until now. I feel these other settings are still not 'getting it' ...to me it sounds like they are more like reception...one member of staff was shocked that some of our children don't know how to 'write their name' or 'know their shapes'. I was concerned to think it was an expectation because thats not how I read the EYFS!

 

We haven't had ofsted in since we started doing it this way but until now I was confident they'd be okay with it as it takes children interests and child initiated play as the basis and builds on that through positive responsive relationships with staff and an enabling environment. I hope I am right...that'd solve the problem! But until then how do I convince the others and resist the pressure....? Or, having read this, do you feel they are right?

 

Any and all comments appreciate

Please dont doubt yourself you sound as if you are doing great! Just refer them to the EYFS its your bible ! Sounds fab what you are doing to me.

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trekker, I love the sound of your style of planning! That's exactly what I'd like to do. I'm an NQT, due to start my first post as a Nursery teacher next month. At the moment I'm trying to get my long- and medium-term planning done, but I'm struggling. I've been given a curriculum map by the school, i.e. a list of topics to cover during the year (one for each half-term). My long-term planning will consist of the list of topics and the EYFS document itself, and my medium-term planning will be set out as half-termly overviews showing what I hope to cover within each topic. However, I'm finding it difficult to plan activities or even know which DM statements to focus on without knowing the children. I feel tied to the topics as I'm new at the school and I assume that they've planned this way for a long time, but I also don't see the point of having topics if the children are going to have their own interests that they want to follow.

 

Basically, I'm wondering if there's a way of planning in the way trekker describes while also satisfying the school with regards to the topics I have to cover... xD

 

(Sorry to hijack this thread by the way!) :o

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Hi

I just wanted to come back to this and say thanks so so much for all your positive replies - it has really reassured me and made me even more determined to stand firm and defend what I've worked so hard to put in place - and to protect the freedom our children deserve! xD

 

We have had several long staff meetings to try and work this out and I feel I have made some small steps in beginning to get some staff to understand that although it seems very free in fact a lot of thought gone into it and there is in fact a 'master plan' to evaluate against. Its not just a free for all.

An invisible 'structure' of sorts underpins everything we do (our long term, medium term planning) which I went through again in great detail.

It was clear although all staff had access to the plans they were not making the connections between these and what they saw as 'just play' and were unsure of their role in supporting that play ...

 

We're not, by any stretch of the imagination, on the same page yet but at least they have stopped demanding topics at present. I think having any kind of 'prop' was the key really.

 

The issues about routines and structure are still ongoing...my staff want more structure, the parents want more structure...I think we have just enough.

Being committee run and having to satisfy parents expectations makes it very hard for me to keep saying 'No' to these demands - I could in theory be over ruled I guess but I'd hope that I'd be able to convince them before that happened..I am gathering materials and resources to put to the committee should I need to!

 

Anyway - I will keep you informed...

 

Oh and thank you also for all your ideas / suggestions - I am definitely considering several to put into practice next term....to start with we ARE going to start having regular supervisor & staff one to ones! A parent workshop is also a strong possibility.

:o

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  • 5 years later...

Crumbs Trekker you should have written the book before Anna E ! searching for retrospective planning formats from reading the book I came across this .....all roads eventually lead back to FSF :-) out of interest and a need to rethink planning did you stick with this, did staff ever conform ?

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