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Reviewing our planning process


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Hi,

I thought I would share my thoughts with all you clever people about how our planning process is going and any issues that we have.

For each term, I complete a medium term plan - this is mainly based on the children needs, with a couple of extras to ensure curriculum coverage. I am happy with this and feel that this ensures that we stick closely to what a cohort needs.

I plan a focused activity for each area of the curriculum which we cover during small group time apart from 2 areas which are coverage through Objective Led Planning. This is the first year that we have used OLP and we have found it to be successful. We gives ourselves up to 2 weeks to meet the objective with all the children. We do try to get them done in the week but I don't worry if 1 or both of them are carried over.

At the beginning of the year, we were continuing to have focused children. We would pick 3 children per week to focus on, spend extra time with them and plan extra things for them where necessary (similar to Anna Ephgrave's idea.) We would complete a number of observations in that week. At the beginning of the week we would give them an individual next step and again at the end of the week. This used to be kept on a large sheet as a learning journey of their week and sent home to parents but as we now use Tapestry, we decided to put it all on Tapestry. However, after a staff discussion, we decided that these probably weren't necessary as we have the OLP in addition to the normal planning, so children are always having time spent with them in the environment with a specific objective. So we ditched them.

I also felt that if children were going to have individual next steps then the time between us working on them specifically was to wide between their focused weeks. Of course, these next steps would feed into the medium term plan, but it just didn't seem to 'flow' right. So, I decided to create 1 on-going next step for each child (2 if necessary) which are reviewed and changed as necessary. This is the bit that I'm really not sure is working. We now have lots of next steps to consider at once. Sometimes, the individual next steps and the OLP match for some children and these next steps are also covered through focused activities as they will be in my medium term plan. However, my idea was that we would work through the individual next steps and each day we would consider whether we needed to provide extra resources and then record this. But, it's just seemed too much! I find that it's a bit too random not having focused children, and we're finding that those children that are always around are getting extra adult input to meet their next steps but the little darlings that seem to never be around are getting less. But, I suppose this is natural anyway? I'm just thinking that if we had a set number of children to 'see' in that day/week then it's less down to chance? Or, maybe we are just trying to do too much?

When I emailed Alistair Bryce-Clegg, he advised that we wouldn't need individual next steps, that objective led planning was enough. The children who have specific difficulties would be highlighted and get extra input anyway.

I just feel like I'm spending my days ticking off who I've worked with and less time just naturally extending their play without my own agenda.

 

If you have any thoughts, advise, ideas then please let me know.

Apologies for the rambling post, sometimes it's just feels better to write your thoughts down!

 

THANK YOU,

Green Hippo xxx

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Hi Green Hippo - must say I hope all that planning is easier in practice than it appears in your post!! To me that seems like a lot of 'balls in the air'. Are you a nursery? Perhaps its easier to have that much in-depth planning in a nursery? Like you I've been a bit inspired by Anna Elphgraves ethos (or pedogogy- still can't pronounce it!). Cant begin to believe we can create such a splendid environment as hers in a packaway -morning -only setting! However we shall do our best! Glad to read ABC says you dont need next steps! Go Alistair! Everyone else seems to think they are the only way forward but I totally see that next steps are much more relevant if they are met immediately - than say, in two or more weeks when they are 'focus children! You've obviously read the book so you know what I mean.

I am very tired - like so many - of trying to juggle all those balls so am going to give AE's theory ago next term. We have had a recent Ofsted, so have time to try it out without fear of 'failure'. I'm kind of looking forward to working with the Enabling Environment and seeing what learning/interests are inspired from it! And how they children progress. I really can see the importance of working 'In The moment' with young minds!

example of what may happen now: Child showing interest in playing Knights at start of term - next steps - opportunity to make/create support resources with them - child is focus in say 3 weeks time - possibly no longer interested, moment lost!

Like you said at end of your post - they're is a lot of ticking off when you forward plan and it often means taking children away from what they are naturally involved/interested in learning about - may be better to just 'get in there' add some support/teaching/resource stand back and see what evolves! - Learning Through Play? The theory sounds fab - shall see what happens next term - in practice! : )

From another Rambler x

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Cant begin to believe we can create such a splendid environment as hers in a packaway -morning -only setting! However we shall do our best!

 

And as a fellow packaway morning only setting - what / how are you starting your journey??!

 

I feel I'm chasing my tail and by the time we have set everything up, we are shattered and the children haven't walked through the door :P

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And as a fellow packaway morning only setting - what / how are you starting your journey??!

 

I feel I'm chasing my tail and by the time we have set everything up, we are shattered and the children haven't walked through the door :P

Ha ha Thats exactly how we feel and WHY it must change! There has got to be a better way....!?!

 

We are currently plotting and planning - we have a HUGE cupboard of resources - some great, some......that have been in this cupboard as long as I have and look as tired as I do!

 

We aim to gather the gold and clear the unused. Then create large wheeled boxes of areas/role play. (Presently no matter how many times we 'sort out' or I say PLEEEASSE make sure this all stays together. it does'nt)

 

Then instead of having lots of carpets/tables with various activities and learning we aim to make each area work in LOTS of ways!

 

Soooo - Home Corner - will include: playdoh/rice etc (instead of it being a separate activity

Babies stuff. ditto

Writing/telephones. ditto

Pegs/clothes. ditto

etc etc. This will take up a large area in our setting. And even tho we do not have 'home corner furniture' (we have had ) we shall create an area that can include lots of learning and play for lots of children and a willing practitioner - all in one place!

 

Intend to repeat this on other side of room - to begin with - a Shop Role play - to incorporate numbers/weighing etc. Real cans of food/potatoes/carrots and all other 'shop' fixtures and fittings. The shop may become something else after half term - like a Builders Merchants or something. We shall see how it goes!

 

Outside we have all natural play - sand, water, wood, chalk etc.

 

Basically - to make each area REALLY work and have lots of learning opportunities within it!!!! I hope it works, cos if not, might just go and hide in our big cupboard!

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Ha ha Thats exactly how we feel and WHY it must change! There has got to be a better way....!?!

 

I agree, there has to be an easier way, try as I may I can't find any good photos of ideas for packaway settings on the web

we have a HUGE cupboard of resources - some great, some......that have been in this cupboard as long as I have and look as tired as I do!

Yes can relate to your cupboards also, everything very 'closed' not very open ended

 

We aim to gather the gold and clear the unused. Then create large wheeled boxes of areas/role play. (Presently no matter how many times we 'sort out' or I say PLEEEASSE make sure this all stays together. it does'nt)

Had a moan about that myself today!

 

Then instead of having lots of carpets/tables with various activities and learning we aim to make each area work in LOTS of ways!

 

Soooo - Home Corner - will include: playdoh/rice etc (instead of it being a separate activity

Babies stuff. ditto

Writing/telephones. ditto

Pegs/clothes. ditto

etc etc. This will take up a large area in our setting. And even tho we do not have 'home corner furniture' (we have had ) we shall create an area that can include lots of learning and play for lots of children and a willing practitioner - all in one place!

All sounding lovely!

 

Intend to repeat this on other side of room - to begin with - a Shop Role play - to incorporate numbers/weighing etc. Real cans of food/potatoes/carrots and all other 'shop' fixtures and fittings. The shop may become something else after half term - like a Builders Merchants or something. We shall see how it goes!

Would love to have our whole hall set up as a giant role play - but the packing away would be horrendous ;)

Outside we have all natural play - sand, water, wood, chalk etc.

 

Basically - to make each area REALLY work and have lots of learning opportunities within it!!!! I hope it works, cos if not, might just go and hide in our big cupboard!

Hope it goes well, let us know plus photos!!!

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Packaway here too...I'm tired of getting the same things out as don't really get chance to see my resources in the shed properly! Plus having to put flooring out to stop the carpet getting wet..painted...doughed...sandy. Etc etc. It's all a drag and I must admit to lacking the enthusiasm and getting very tired of it all now!! That's not to mention the arguments with the people we rent the hall from as they can still see the odd speck of glitter in the carpet. Someone take me away from this!!!!!!

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Forgot to say I am trying to find alocal outstanding packaway setting in my area and my lea support worker says there isn't one and never been one! Does that say something? The idea is icsn visit to see how they plan,manage resources and hall issues.

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Forgot to say I am trying to find alocal outstanding packaway setting in my area and my lea support worker says there isn't one and never been one! Does that say something? The idea is icsn visit to see how they plan,manage resources and hall issues.

I used to think so too and always felt that was the reason we have always been 'not quite outstanding'! However this year 2 pack away settings in my area have reached those dizzy heights! We have visited these settings -before outstanding judgement - and have not found them any more 'enabling' than us. They do have EYPs and BAs working there though, and I guess thats what achieved the grade?

 

Must admit felt a bit miffed that my original theory was squashed! : (

 

Back to the drawing board then........

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I am in a school Nursery and take my hat off to pack away settings. It's hard enough getting ready in a morning when most of your provision is in place! Your idea sounds great Rafa - lots of open ended learning opportunities.

I haven't read ABC's book that you mentioned. I was going to buy it but read a review that said that most of it was on his blog. Can you remember what he says about on-going next steps in his book? I do feel like I'm juggling a lot of balls and if I choose to drop one, I manage to create another one in it's place. It's like I feel guilty if I'm not working to my ABSOLUTE limit!

 

Next steps are a bit of an issue for me and I've had my rants in the past. However, I keep doing them! It's not that I don't think children should have them but it's how to manage them so it's not just a paperwork exercise or totally consuming? However I do it, I always seem to be back on here trying to 'fix' it!

Green Hippo xxx

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Hi Green Hippo,

 

You and I have talked Next Steps before!

 

We too are using a version of the OLP and I consider these to be our Next Steps so I no longer write individual next steps half termly for all children in all areas. Instead I have one or two OLP focus areas a week so essentially they are having at least one next step covered per week.

 

From your comment I would assume that Alistair is not saying we don't need next steps rather that the OLP IS their next step for whichever skill you are focusing on therefore you don't need separate next steps.

 

I find that with this system I get a balance between my agenda so focusing on whatever OLP I have but also I have plenty o time to still go with the flow and see what they need "in the moment"

 

As before I try to meet the OLP first by going into their CI \ offering resources which they will use in their CI etc.... then for those that I still haven't got I might plan an activity for an adult to support that links to their interests which will help me address the OLP.

 

Reviewing the year my children have made progress with this method and I feel like my paperwork is minimal in comparison to how it has been at various points! Good job as my workload is doubling in September when my morning only school Nursery becomes morning and afternoon!

 

Mel

x

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Hi Melcatfish,

We certainly have spoken next steps before! At length I think!

Could you explain how you do the OLP as you said you did a version of it! I know I should just use the OLPs but there's a part of me that wonders whether they're individual enough. Although I know it works effectively.

Thanks for your reply,

Green Hippo x

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I am in a school Nursery and take my hat off to pack away settings. It's hard enough getting ready in a morning when most of your provision is in place! Your idea sounds great Rafa - lots of open ended learning opportunities.

I haven't read ABC's book that you mentioned. I was going to buy it but read a review that said that most of it was on his blog. Can you remember what he says about on-going next steps in his book? I do feel like I'm juggling a lot of balls and if I choose to drop one, I manage to create another one in it's place. It's like I feel guilty if I'm not working to my ABSOLUTE limit!

Next steps are a bit of an issue for me and I've had my rants in the past. However, I keep doing them! It's not that I don't think children should have them but it's how to manage them so it's not just a paperwork exercise or totally consuming? However I do it, I always seem to be back on here trying to 'fix' it!

Green Hippo xxx

Hi Green Hippo, Im afraid I did't make mysef clear - I was referring to ABCs response to your email when he said you dont need individual next steps if you have OLP? Sorry No Holy Grail here!

 

No As I said, despite every 'advisor' or inspector saying. ....."and how do you show your NEXT STEPS......." and how do they LINK to you PLANNING?". Arrrrgghhh......and HOW may I ask do you manage to SLEEP at night???!! We are giving Anna Ephgraves theory ago and abandoning (dare I say it) Next Steps! There, I'm out of the closet, Ive declared our setting Next Step Free!! (Good job this is anonymous eh)?

AE suggests being really confident and.....Im not....but hey ho whats to lose? Fed up with current paperchase!

 

Of course Possible Lines of Development (which by any other name are NS) will be noted by a childs keyperson or other practitioners and they will be adressed 'as the moment arises'!

 

How I see it - A childs next step is - the next 'thing' they need support with - not something I've decided weeks beforehand - so, support them, THEN, NOW - not next week or whenever! Then it becomes relevant learning!!! (ooo sounds like I believe this is possible)!

 

We shall have OLP in our red group(3/4s) and blue group (2+) as we do presently. Here we promote learning in skills such as Listening and Attention, Number Rhymes, Speaking in a group, Finger gym etc etc. The rest of the Learning will come through Play! Will be supported, challenged and extended by practitioners! Eeeek!

How will we evidence this: Tapestry, termly focus child and hopefully lovely thriving children! Yeah! Yeah! Yeah! Feel Im totally losing the plot now. - ha ha! : )

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Not at all....I'm falling for the bravado Rafa :)

 

We've been planning for focus children on a weekly basis, which has worked to a point, but now finding that something that was on the plan appears a week or 2 later for a different focus child, so lately seem to be going over the same ground..not quite sure which direction to go yet though :/

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Not at all....I'm falling for the bravado Rafa :)

 

We've been planning for focus children on a weekly basis, which has worked to a point, but now finding that something that was on the plan appears a week or 2 later for a different focus child, so lately seem to be going over the same ground..not quite sure which direction to go yet though :/

Yes I'm finding that too; I'm not quite sure if it's practioners just not 'seizing the moment' though, because if it's not on the plan for their child they don't seem to just do it, or if I'm being too harsh and they were busy doing something else (probably!)

 

The other thing I'm struggling with is because our numbers are now lower than in days gone by, we have to continually accept new children throughout the year, at least 1 keyworker is struggling to settle a newbie all the time (and we all know how time consuming that can be) I have 2 yrs 4 months between my eldest & youngest children - planning for that greater age range is mind boggling unless you know a simple way?!

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I know what you mean Thumperrabbit, they plan some fab activities but as it's planned for specific children it tends to be done once when the child it was planned for is in but most don't get a chance to have a go, I want to change that really, but as you say it is about having the available staff to oversee some activities with all the other things demanding 1:1 staff time, as well as fitting in supervisions, peer observations etc...how the hell do the powers that be think we have staff spare to stand around observing other staff :/

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I know what you mean Thumperrabbit, they plan some fab activities but as it's planned for specific children it tends to be done once when the child it was planned for is in but most don't get a chance to have a go, I want to change that really, but as you say it is about having the available staff to oversee some activities with all the other things demanding 1:1 staff time, as well as fitting in supervisions, peer observations etc...how the hell do the powers that be think we have staff spare to stand around observing other staff :/

Well they just keep expecting more and more from us Mouseketeer! Unfortunately we took the 'Kings shilling' with the funding and are now obliged to act on every stupid initiative they throw our way! Makes me mad that pvi settings are not really PVI - we are Puppets on a String!

Rant Over x

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I too am feeling exhausted by our observation, planning and assessment cycle. With a group of 45 children and a maximum of up to 25 a session I sometimes feel like a assuage factory. I'm not truly meeting individual needs regularly enough but don't know how to manage this successfully.

I'm looking forward to reading some inspiring posts

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Oh dear, we all seem to be struggling a bit with this don't we?

Rafa, I agree - Next steps are the next thing that they need to work on. The thing is (and I'm sure I've said this before in a previous thread) all the children have next steps in all of the area. I have tried, (like I know Melcatfish used to do), having these next steps written down for all the children which potentially generates 210 next steps for my class of 30! In practise, there are less because there are some children with the same/similar next steps. But I quickly gave up on this as I just didn't know where to start! I was covering next steps through the normal methods: focused activities, enhancements, changes in provision and going to children in their play but trying to keep on top of where we were all up to, then reviewing those next steps regularly was just impossible (for me anyway.) So I moved to have 1 or 2 next steps for each child (as in THE NEXT THING THAT THEY NEED TO WORK ON!) and mostly going to the children in their play, I'd plan extra resources/mini activities for them in advance but they weren't always interested in them and covered some through focused activities. This worked to a degree and was much easier to keep on top of and know what we'd all done with which children. However, I still had the issue of, who do I focus on first? etc and got caught up try to meet lots of children needs at once because I wanted to cover their next steps as soon as possible.

 

So, we've moved to Objective Led Planning which is based on my medium term plan which is based on the needs of the cohort as a whole. This includes 'next steps', gaps and curriculum coverage. So my medium term plan does cover the half-term but it isn't set in stone. If I feel there's something more pressing to cover then I slot it in and if the children have moved on from an objective then I will revise that objective, differentiating it accordingly. I cover all areas of learning each week through either OLPs or focused activities and the learning is further promoted through relevant resources etc. I know that I am meeting the children's needs through this process because I include their next steps in the medium term plan. In addition to this, if there are children who are particularly struggling with an aspect then they will be planned for on the intervention plan, so again are being individually catered for. I am a great believer in teaching children at their level across the curriculum. I find that next steps can make us focus on a child's weakest points (and we do need to 'close the gap'!) but I think that children have the right to continue to develop in all areas of learning and OLPs allows us to do this. This week we might not be focussing on something little Jimmy is finding more difficult but he will be given a suitable next step that allows him to develop to HIS next step.

However, I know there's always a 'next steps/target' question from Mr O - ours in January asked "how do you set targets for children.' I described the OLPs and also the book where we recorded each child's next steps in before and after their focus week which was available for all members of staff to look at. But apart from feeding any still relevant next steps into the medium term plan, I didn't really do anything with these next steps after their focus week as it would be another 3 children's focus week. This is why we decided to try out 1 next step for each child in addition to the OLPs and focus activities but here I am now finding myself chasing my tail! I decided that I wouldn't plan ahead more than a day, so would work down the next steps sheet 1 child at a time (linking up to children with similar next steps) and deciding if there was anything further we could provide to support them in their learning. In practice, we often haven't got round to it and most is being done through the children's own play and then supporting them in that moment where possible (or as soon as possible afterwards!) So really we start with the children and they inspire us as to what else we could provide which is what we are really doing all the time anyway!

 

I also have Anna Ephgrave's spontaneous planning sheet (my own version!) on the wall which is filled in as we go along with some of the interactions/observations we have made and what we might do next (if we need to) - and again this is another way we are meeting children's needs as we will make an observation and then an assessment about what they can do and then think what next? to support their needs and interests. These 'next steps' are then met the next session if possible or in the next few days.

 

Oh dear, I've rambled on and on and on and I'm sure none of it makes much sense but thanks for taking the time to read it!

Green Hippo x

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I suppose what I'm concerned about (more concisely!!) is that if I decide that the most pressing needs in Understanding of the World, for example, are something from P&C and TW, what about the child who really needs most support with Technology? Without those extra individual next steps, does his 'need' go on hold apart what would be offered in CP anyway?

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  • 1 month later...

Since the last post, I have emailed Alistair Bryce-Clegg. He said that the OLPs are the next steps which might be from a medium term plan or from more current assessment but you might also have identified a particular next step for a particular child or group of children and you could highlight them on the OLP sheet as also needed extra support with another objective as well as those identified on the OLP sheet (may or may not be same aspect.) In this way a child who has a pressing next step which is not being covered through OLP or other activities can be targeted for a short time. We have intervention groups, so any child who is particularly struggling in an area would have other next steps identified anyway.

What I am now thinking is, that I still want to make it fair for all the children in terms of the amount of adult focus they receive. Of course, some children demand more adult time due to their needs but I always find it's those quieter, average (for want of a better word) children that might get over looked, and I think they deserve an extra next step now and again as well.

Any ideas?

I have also decided to keep focus children but only over 2 days - so we will have 2 children to focus on on Monday and Tuesday, and 2 different children for Wednesday and Thursday with Friday left to re-visit, P.E. observations etc. This means that each child will get focused on once a half-term. By default, these focus may bring up next steps for the four children which can be covered over the next week.

 

Any thoughts?

 

Thanks,

Green Hippo x

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Well I'm going to throw my hat in the ring too...

We open a new school based nursery (3+ only) in sept and this is what we are planning.

Each key worker will have a working document which has all their children on and a 'skills based' next step for each one in maths, literacy and another threat we feel is appropriate. So 3 next steps which will run as long as we need them to. When one is achieved it will be replaced by another. These next steps will be addressed in the CP via the Anna Ephgrave approach.

I do not make notes of next steps for things like psed, c&l, ead, pd...cos I just feel like I know these as they are things the children display all the time. It's the nitty gritty maths and literacy I feel I need to make note of, so that's why we focus on those for the written next steps.

Planning on no LTP or MTP just weekly plans for carpet sessions and the rest 'planning in the moment' and playing with the children whilst 'weaving' their next steps into their existing play.

Also planning on having intervention groups each day to pick up those children who need a quite focus time on their next steps as I find some children don't always pick new concepts up during incidental play scenarios and need more focus teaching times.

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