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Nqt With New Reception Class, Seeking Topic / Themes For Longterm Plan


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Hello, I am starting my first role as an NQT in reception class in September. I wondered if anyone could help me with topic ideas that I could work from that are a little bit newer to the usual as I have been told to bring really different topic ideas in.


Many thanks,



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Welcome to the forum Dannyv - hope you enjoy your new position come September. If you read through posts on here about topics/themes, you will see that for many long term planning consists of festivals and celebrations, a good website for this is the Woodlands Junior School one, if you google that you will find they have a really fun selection of festivals, celebrations etc. which may catch your imagination.

Edited by Panders
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Hello and welcome to the forum and to Reception. In my school we have infant/junior topics that everyone follows, but we just go off at tangents according to the children's interests. In September the focus is history and our infant topic is going to be 'Long, long, ago' which is nice and vague! I'm thinking about dinosaurs, castles, fairy tales...will see where we go. Good luck!


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Hello Danny - welcome to the world of Foundation Stage - it is the best place to be!


I am an Early Years Consultant and working with a number of schools at the moment on this very topic of topics!


Basically - Your document is your long term planning and you need to be sure that you have a system in place to show what you have covered across the year. You will have enough to do so DON'T be tempted by re-writing what is already there for you!


If you are planning your curriculum around the interests of your children in true 'child led' learning you would not have any topic titles at all. Not even general ones.


This is how I suggest that you do it. It is massively empowering for you and the children and better than that... it works!




When you first get your children you should be getting to know them, assessing them and modelling the appropriate use of your environment. When you think you have a good idea of where they are up to in their learning you will know exactly what the next steps need to be in your teaching.


Point of entry assessment is essential for you. If you have information sent up with the children then your assessment will validate that (ALWAYS bear in mind that the majority of children regress to some extent over the summer, especially if starting a new setting) so don't dismiss other peoples assessments out of hand - let them help you to form a picture of the child now and their possible potential


If you have no assessment you need to make an initial judgement about PSE and attainment. This is for your use in planning and is subject to change as the children settle and develop, It is NOT a label and it is NOT set in stone!!


So, the children are now in. They have stopped clinging to their carers legs and wailing every mroning. Their carers have stopped wailing every morning and you have finally stopped having to sponge the snot off your trouser legs at the end of the day!


You have spent a couple of weeks (or more) getting to know your little cherubs and assessing where they are up to. You know what you need to start teaching and to whome.


It will not be the same next year. BEWARE anyone who just gets last years planning out - no 2 cohorts are ever the same!




Now assessment has told you what you need to teach you need to decide how you will teach it. Step 2 is 'ask the children'. Find out what they like and this will be the basis of your teaching content. If you ask the children to sit in a circle and tell you what they like - some will go blank, some won't speak and some will dominate. The best way to do it is in small groups while you are assessing/playing with them.You can also make floor books or maps where you work with a group and draw out what they like (like an old fashioned topic web that we used to use in the good old days!) You cannot have 30 themes running so take the most prevelant 3 or 4. Always record these sessions and keep for evidence of child led learning.




You now know: what you need to teach, what interests your children and this is where you and your staff come in with your PLODS.( Possible Lines Of Development). As a team you talk about all the things/activities/visits etc that you can think of that address step one and step two.


Remember a four year old will only ever lead learning from the experiences that they have had. It is our job to extend those experiences with our knowledge. So you brainstorm and you plan - NOT in huge detail. POSSIBLE is the key word in PLODS as many of the things you think of won't happen because as the learning progresses they are not relevant any longer.




This is my favourite bit - MASH UP! Take what your assessment has told you combined with what your children like add what you know and create a 'challenge' for the children. Experience has shown me that this works best when there is an end result that the children are working towards.


So you might have 3 week project that encompasses all of the above that ends with: a class book, a podcast, an performance a party...the list is endless


Your daily planning is shaped by all of the above and how the children respond to it. MOST important is your ongoing assessment and observation and that is a whole other post!


Once you have done your assessments, make sure your environment set up and planning respond to the need you have identified. If your children lack vocabulary or have speech difficulties then more of your space and planning need to be given to addressing those issues. Your writing area should look very different this September than it will next July more space, different resorces, room for gross motor floor work etc...


Although your room should be interesting when the children arrive your room arrangement and the content of your planning file should be dictated by their needs and preferences not by what you did last year or what you think you fancy doing this year. Your medium/short term planning should not be detailed at this point as until they are in you don't know what it is they need therefore you cannot know what it is you need to teach.


I realise this is probably not the short response you were hoping for - but the subject you raised is SO important to get right. I hope this helps!



Edited by Guest
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I just wanted to say that I agree with Alistair - great response!


I tend to have a main theme running for 2 or 3 weeks which is the main interest of the class and then have 2 or 3 sub-themes that my provision enhances.


Good luck for your NQT year! xx

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  • 2 weeks later...

A fantastic post Alistair, saying succinctly what we all try to say in our own way, and addressing that balance between what the child is interested in, what we feel is the child's next step, and how we need to guide them on to new experiences evolving from what we know, which gives a depth to their learning.

I have seen settings where the interpretation of child initiated has led to too many different things going on at once and a lot of superficial activities, so the balance has not been there.

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