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Planning/organisation help please.


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Apologies now if this turns into a long post but I just need all your lovely advice.


I have been a nursery teacher for 18 years. However, For the last 16 years I have been living and working abroad. I worked in independent schools teaching nursery classes of 3 to 4 year olds. This is where all my experience lies. As we were abroad and there was no government funding the children all came to school full time, 5 days a week. So I had a class of twenty two who all came to school every day all day from 8am till 2pm. Planning was good as they were the same children all the time. I used child led planning and next steps and felt like I knew all of them extremely well. I was lucky enough to have two teaching assistants, but I was responsible for all 22 children in terms of reports and planning. We did not have key workers. It was just me in that respect.


I am now back in the UK and have just got a job as the nursery teacher in a primary school. The nursery takes children aged between 3 and 4 years. There are 50 on roll with 25 attending each session.


I have to confess I am struggling to work out how to plan and make sure each child makes progress even though they all come for different amounts of time. some of them come for 4 full days, others come for two half days. Some for five mornings, others five afternoons etc etc. how do you plan without it becoming all consuming and taking up so much time so each day day is challenging for the ones that come nearly every day but to make sure that the ones that only come two half days also get some input.


Ther are four other members of staff who are key workers. But from what I can gather (only been there two weeks) they don't ever have time with just their key worker children. The nursery is old and quite small and there is no space for us to all separate into different areas etc.


I need to make sure that I set up intervention groups for those that need it. Some SEN, some need more PSE. I am responsible for all the planning. We are planning through topics but I am also introducing child led planning linked to this.


My questions are how do you decide which activities everyone will do (regardless of whether they come for one half session or 4 whole days) what does your planning look like for this? Should the key workers take some responsibility for the planning with their groups? (they come 10 minutes before the children arrive and leave 10 minites after the end of the day) How do you organise letters and sounds sessions?


The nursery has very good continuous provision and lots of needs can be met through child led ideas and play. But how do you record this? Plan for this? Assess this?


I feel like I am a complete novice again coming into this. I think the crux of my problem is the fact that the children all come on different days and different times. I have a lot of experience and always felt I have done a good job but this is rather throwing me off balance.


I would be so gratefull for any advice on how to go forward. The teacher before me was there for 17 years so I think it will be ok to make some changes now, but as I said I feel I don't know where to start and there doesn't seem to be a lot to go on with what they did before I got there.


For the last couple of weeks I have been doing a group time at the beginning of the day for everyone, talking about our topic, reading a story and playing games etc. then they all go off to play and I have had two focus activities that every child will do that week regardless of what sessions they attend. Then there are also other activities that go on each day but only the children attending that session or day will do them. I have tried to mix it up in terms of what area of development the activities are. I now need to develop a plan to fit in some intervention groups and make sure that each child in those groups is targeted appropriately.


I am so sorry for this long rant. Perhaps someone out there can make sense of it! As I said I would be grateful for any advice or help or a look at some ideas for planning.


Many thanks!

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  • 2 weeks later...


Reading your post was like reading thoughts from my own mind! I began teaching Nursery in September 2014 after 10 years teaching KS1. Maybe we can be 'Novices' together? Ours is a 52 place Nursery with some children coming 5 days either for the morning or afternoon session. Then we have a group of about 10 children that do 2 and a half days at the beginning of the week and 10 that do 2 and a half days at the end of the week. Changeover day being Weds.

There are 3 of us in Nursery. Myself & 2 Nursery Nurses. We each have our own Key children but I have over all responsibility especially for planning.

I have by no means mastered it but I try to get around the repetition by numbering the 'sessions'. I spread the sessions out according to who is in when & stick to this pattern each week just add new activity to the number. It's difficult to explain but I can send you a copy of my timetable if you like?? Remember I am as new to this if not newer than you are as I have never taught in foundation stage before this year.

I fit in intervention at review time after we have tidied and just before snack (we dont do floating snack).

As for phonics I alternate the sessions as I mentioned above but I do not worry too much about repetition in phonics as I think repetition is good for them. So I might focus on a particular sound or skill but use a different game on each day and change this the following week so all experience all the games.

We have had 1 focused task per week plus baking activities once a week on a Wednesday. The children have free flow inside&outside so I feel any more than this would mean not enough adult support to enhance independent play.

We all make observations of all the children but tend to focus on our own especially towards the end of a half term when we are expected to submit data on scores. We are each responsible for keeping our own children's learning journals up to date (observations & assessment against EYFS statements) and also for inputting this data onto our school system.,

I have asked my team to make notes on Next steps for their children but with little success we rarely get time to do this (wrong I know) but we know in our minds where our children are and what they need next.

My email is xxxxx if you want to message me and make a Novice gang

Edited by Beau
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  • 4 weeks later...

Hello, I am an NQT who has been in a Nursery class since sept, i have struggled with the organisation of the planning and assessing and how to plan for each child to show progression. I make weekly observations on all the children and next steps on some, Im not sure show what to plan and how to organise it. In my first term i planned for the next steps so all children would be involved, but was told im not doing enough topic work. and also was concerned it was not individual enough. I now plan topic activities weekly and try and include what children need to learn from them, I do put out opportunities for children if and when i can for example talk to children about their interests and print out a picture and use it to mark make for literacy as that was something the child was not doing. but that is just me remembering that day and I need to find a way of recording it, and to plan for it in future. I hope this makes sense. please help, i would like to get sorted so next year is more clearer.

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I've been in Nursery for 7 years now and Reception 3 years before that and I have been round the houses and back again with planning etc.

This is what I currently do, this may or may not work for your children:

We have a focus activity for 5 of the 7 areas every week and the other 2 areas are covered by objective led planning (Alistair Bryce Clegg). For 3 days a week we split the group into 3 key groups and do 3 of the focus activities in rotation (at the end of the session). We then do PD as a P.E. session every week and the other focus activity is something that we can all do simultaneously or in differentiated groups. With a small class (I have 31 to 3 adults), you could split into 2 groups. The objective led planning is covered while the children are involved in child-initiated play (9-10.45ish) - we decide on a focus then split the class into 3 differentiated groups, state where they are now and their next step. We then find the children while they are playing and teach them the objective through their play. We do set up some starter activities and enhancements to encourage children to be involved with the planned learning but it is (almost) never a 'call to the teacher' activity.

In terms of next steps - well these are firstly covered through the focused activities/objective led planning as all 'needs' are planned on the medium term plan to ensure they are covered. Each child also has 1 on-going (2 if necessary) next step which again we meet through play. If I think that they need any extra enhancements or a specific activity then this is recorded on a separate sheet with columns for name, area of learning/purpose, activity/resources, evaluation. I have recently changed this to an on-going sheet as I used to put this on the bottom of my weekly planning but found myself sat their at a weekend trying to think up ideas for individual children which they might not be interested in by the time I got around to doing it. Now the sheet is an on-going daily sheet so is filled in as we go along. In addition to this, we also use Anna Ephgrave's Spontaneous Planning sheet - so we (try to!) record any observations/interactions that we have made and plan suggestions of what we might do next. If we do it in the current week, then I give it a tick. If I plan it for the next week, I put it at the bottom of the planning.


It is very very easy to get caught up on planning and recording. I have been there and done it and will probably do it again. I sometimes don't get around to recording everything that I want to but the priority for me is to get it the resources out or do the activity. Even if you scribble on the back of the plans 'x - fine motor control, pincer grip practice - beads on a cocktail stick.' It's there for anyone to see.


Hope this helps,

Green Hippo x

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  • 2 weeks later...

hi all,

could someone explain the difference in adult led and focused activities and how many of each should be taking place daily? i have been put in a preschool where there is no routine or adult led/focused activities, just child intitiated play. As there was no structure to anything i've had to start from scratch and begin with the the children's current interests in minibeasts just so that there are some engaging activities (E.G bug hunts, butterfly prints) for them to do so we can make observations- these activities re not yet linked to any child's next steps.

i plan for there to be a morning group time to do the register/sing/discuss todays activities and for a later group time to be a bit more focused e.g something from letters and sounds or something linked to the current interests.

i dont know the children at all in terms of their abilties etc, im trying to update their next steps while planning the activities during the day- how do i do this??

oh and we are due ofsted yesterday.

many thanks

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Hi Salus,

I replied to this yesterday but it hasn't uploaded!

Adult-led and focused activities are the same thing - where an adult has pre-planned a learning focus and an activity that we but used to teach towards this objective. As explained earlier in this thread, we also use Objective-led planning so we plan the learning focus for differentiated groups but not an activity. Sometimes I would plan a mini/starter activity and always add enhancements to promote the learning but it's not an activity that everyone would be expected to do.

We do phonics or finger gym in small groups at the beginning of the session and then focused activities in key groups towards the end of the session. These are activities that we want all the children to do (teaching skills) and all the children are involved in a focused activity at the same time so that we are not bringing them away from their child-initiated play. I am in a school Nursery with only 3 to 4 year olds but if I had younger children then this format may well not work. I write a medium term plan which is mostly based on the children's needs (from their next steps) with some extras to ensure curriculum coverage. Then the weekly focused activities and objective led planning focuses are based on these objectives so that I am ensuring that we are meeting the needs of the children. I very rarely do focused activities during child-initiated play sessions, sometimes I will run a mini-activity or a teacher-initiated idea for a small number of children to, for example, follow an interest or to cover a next step which we a finding more difficult to meet through the continuous provision,

There are no set number of focused activities that a setting is expected to do. Try different things out for a good period of time and see how you and the other staff feel it is going. Personally, I would avoid setting up focused activities that you expect all the children do to during the child initiated play sessions, rather, go to them with an objective and sensitively weave it into what they are doing.

Hope that helps,

Green Hippo x

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