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Opinions and advice wanted.


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Hi all. I recently started in a new school that has been placed in SM. We're expecting a follow up HMI visit any time soon. I get on very well with the other reception teacher, but recently had a differing of opinion. The time table that we follow has the children attending assembly for 30 mins but sometimes longer, then straight back to do phonics and a daily challenge. Based on experience, child development theories and the children in my class, I personally feel that expecting reception children to sit for 30 mins then go straight into an activity and remain focused, interested and involved is asking too much. Instead I have let them have a 5-15 min free choosing time before gathering them for their phonics activity. When I put forward my argument about children not sitting for extended periods of time, well being etc. The walk from the hall back to the classroom was put forward as activity and making the phonics session active (which I do) but I still believe that they need a little time to get rid of pent up energy? My colleague who has had years more experience than I have and who has followed this set pattern for a couple of years has asked that I make sure that I do phonics at the timetabled time, to ensure when we are visited, we are deemed to be following the timetable to the exact timings and seen to be doing the same thing at the same time.

 

What are your thoughts? My colleague believes her children are able to cope with it and are now used to doing it that way. I think we should be more flexible and work from the needs of the children first.

Any opinions and advice to help me see it a different way are most welcome too.

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i agree with you and susan. 15 minutes is all reception would be expected to be able to concentrate for at the start of the year, and our reception teacher had this pointed out by ofsted when her group time over ran. he said they did stay focussed despite this. i would ask do you need to go to assembly? in my last school i was in reception and our fs leader was very versed in early years and we just went into celebration assembly 1 day a week as this was deemed suitable. we didn't stop for break either as the children had time outside anyway. so children had time to get absorbed in their play etc. it was lovely. i'm in nursery now and reception do the same as you. with assembly 15 minutes after they arrive, so it's register/assembly/phonics. there is no way this is appropriate for a 4 year old, and they are definately not getting the best from their phonics session. what is wrong with people!!!!! x

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Thanx for your replies considering its a Friday evening, I didn't expect to see anything yet. I am not feeling so demoralized now.

 

To be fair to my colleague, I think she is anxious for HMI not to be able to find fault over not sticking to the set time table. Does anyone have any experience of this?

 

My way around this would be to change the timetable to reflect that they are 4/5 years old.

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Sticking to a timetable will not impress anyone - it's how effective you are in supporting learning that matters and HMI will know that.

 

1) Do children need to go to assembly at the moment. who is deciding this is required? If SLT can you discuss this and reduce/

2) Move the phonics session - a timetable is not written in tablets of stone. You can do your phonics when you like and straight after sitting for assembly is not appropriate. It doesn't matter that 2 classes are doing the same thing at the same time - what matters is that all children get the same entitlement to the taught curriculum.

 

Cx

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I would be concerned about assembly lasting over half an hour surely ofsted would pick up on that! We are a c of e school and our assemblies are 15 minutes tops, why do yours last so long? Maybe its something that needs to be addressed as a school because surely that has a knock on effect for the rest of the school in terms of fitting in the required teaching hours. I have no choice about reception going to assembly and they have been going every day for the last 2 weeks. We also do do phonics straight away afterwards. We keep phonics active and practical and it is done through play anyway so even though they have been sitting for 15 mins they cope really well with it straight after assembly. Sorry but I would wander at the value of a few minutes free choosing time if their play is going to be interrupted to be called to come to phonics ( sorry have a thing about children's play being interrupted as wonder what message it sends- ie. my activity is more important than your play) I would prefer to just spend a few minutes doing wake and shake/ sticky kids if they are fidgety which my children love before continuing with phonics (sorry)

Deb

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Could you try aother week doing it the way your colleague would like but collect obs during that time which show reduced levels of involvement in the group? That would give you evidence for your colleague and for Ofsted that giving them a break is the best way to meet their needs and to deliver the curriculum.

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Assemblies do run over into the 30-40 mins mark, As a school the aim is for them to start and finish within 20 mins. Thank you for your input and don't apologize for your views. Where I see value in allowing the children to have a few minutes to let off steam is based on the approach that teaching and learning should be developmentally appropriate to the child. I don't believe it is appropriate to expect children to sit for 15 - 20 or 20 - 30 mins at a time, involved in an activity that is probably not engaging their interest.( I say this based on the fact that I over 50% eal with 2/3rds of those having no or little English at all ) Then expect them to sit for a further amount of time straight after and be ready and switched on to learn. Good practice/ best practice should be based on knowledge of how children develop and learn, and should put the child at the centre an enabling curriculum. There is research by child development and early education theorist who believe that a child's body is not physically mature in terms of muscle tone and posture to sit still. But we ask them to do that, Imagine how it might feel to be in a position that feels un natural and uncomfortable for a period of time? It is also about me using a strategy that I believes supports their learning. Wake and shake is still a directed activity. Where as I try to give them a chance to engage in something they find interesting and is self directed.

 

Your comment about interrupting play is interesting, and I understand where you are coming from, but It lends the question about having to interrupt for snack, tidy up time, playtime, lunchtime, home time etc? Is it okay to interrupt for those times but not for planned learning activities? How do you move between child initiated to adult directed learning?

Edited by sarnie
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Last year when we were Ofsteded we had two reception classes who did not have the exact same timetable.

 

They also only went o assembly once a week.

The assemblies were often over running and it was too long for the children just entering reception to be sat.

The staff stood together and fought the Head about needing to go every day.

I believe they went more often in the summer term.

 

I believe confidence in wat you are doing is a must and so you really do need to sort this itch the other teacher.

 

If you show you plan together I don't believe it would be necessary to have the exact same timetables.

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I totally agree that a 30-40 mins assembly is way too long for any child to sit and listen let alone reception age children and maybe it's something which should be addressed as a staff. You have to go with the flow with the cohort you have- I never do the same things in the same way with each cohort. Re interrupting play, for me with how our school timetable works with assemblies and outside play etc I decided to keep the mornings pretty much adult guided but very active and every afternoon the children have 2 hours of interrupted free flow child initiated with both of us playing with/ modelling/ observing with no AI activities works so much better.

Deb

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Could you have a brisk run around the yard outside for a couple of minutes? That's what we did when I was based in school. That wouldn't dramatically alter your timetable, but would get a bit of wake up fresh air in.

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Guest tinkerbell

My Reception class goes to assembly 4 days and a KS1 assembly for the other...20 mins at the max and the rest of the school stay in the hall for wake up and shake up and my reception come back to bean bag raps which they love,they sing along with me and we work on the whole body in our movements (yes it is directed) when the yr1 join us we are ready for a 10 min input.

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Guest tinkerbell

perhaps some outside bean bag throwing and catching ,singing alphabet rhymes...my class are amazing at making up their own ditties...you could have afun physical time directed by the children doing phonics!

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Thanx all for you advice and suggestions. I don't have a problem making phonics interactive and fun. The challenge I found was incorporating phonics and a daily challenge (involving an explanation and modeling of the expected sentence or cvc word) after an assembly.

Reading all of your thoughts has given me (back) the confidence to be (more) creative with applying the curriculum and maintaining the equilibrium. I like the suggestion of moving phonics outside straight after assembly (weather permitting) then doing the second half of the activity, the daily challenge inside.

I'll let you know how it goes.

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Guest ShelleyT

Why do both Reception classes need to do the same thing at the same time???? We have two Reception classes and often do things on different days throughout the week. You should be allowed to follow a routine that suits you and your class, not the other teacher. Ofsted would not expect you to be doing the same things at the same time either. I would take to the HT about this matter if I were you. x

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