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Hi there, I'm new to this site and have recently been promoted to manager at a lovely pack away preschool that I have been working at for 2 years. I am really keen to change the way we plan things at preschool. The previous way just made no sense to me and I don't want to plan for plannings sake! We had our Ofsted inspection and were graded 'Good' so whenever I hinted that I think we need to change things, the manager would always say 'it's good enough for Ofsted'. I believe the last manager lacked a real passion for childcare, I don't want everything we do to be for Ofsted!

Anyway, I am not keen on Next Steps, we currently have rolling next steps but they are just picked out of the development matters randomly. I've never understood this, the children progress naturally through the areas through their play so don't get why we pick one for no reason?! They all have one next step for each of the prime areas. They have this for varying amounts of time but usually between half a term and a term. We also do a lot of planning sheets and lots of writing!

I want is to use a big whiteboard, have no formal next steps but small ones given to the children based on their play. I want them to be in charge of their learning. So it might be that X and Y are playing in the home corner with the baking set so we can extend that learning to do a real baking activity. Or maybe they are talking about colours red, blue and green so a next step might be to increase knowledge of other colours so the next day I'd set up painting with purple, pink and yellow. Does that make sense? All this would be noted on the whiteboard. A section at the bottom to evaluate as we go along and then at the end of the week a photo of the board could be taken and stored. We would have a continues provision sheet and also mark on any enhancements based on children's interests. I want to make a photo book of all our resources so the children can choose what they want out. I want to get the parents more on board so they can tell us about home interests also to be added to the board. I think every staff member could have a different colour pen so they can scribble for their own key children and then there is also accountability for who is doing the work. We would still do snapshot obs for learning journeys with photos and examples of work and track their progress on a separate development tracker every term.

 

Sorry, I've waffled on a bit! Does that sound ok? Is it enough? I'm a bit nervous of scrapping next steps! Do any other settings do paperless planning? Can anyone share their boards or formats? Thanks in advance, I've been fascinated reading through all the threads and seeing how everyone does things!

LempyLump

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WOOOAAAAHHHHH there girl! Do a bit at a time or your staff will have a melt down!!

 

Actually I think what you have planned seems to be going in the right direction ...and you aren't scrapping next steps you are just doing them in a different way....they are still next steps !

 

Be wary too of changing 'products' for the parents too quickly...however once they realise you can do the job then they will begin to accept these more easily.

 

I had so many ideas when we moved that I found it really frustrating to hold back but knew people/time and money limit these for a while...always good to have that list of ambitions though

Good luck

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Ha! Yes, I am probably a bit too keen. I'm also nervous about having all these theories that work in my head but may not work in practise after I've been bigging up all my ideas to anyone that will listen! ? Especially if it means spending some money, we are a parent run charity so don't really have the money to throw away on my crazy ideas.....!

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What you are proposing sounds like it will work - could you possibly trial your idea for a term maybe with a small group of children, then if it suits you all roll it out for the whole group.

 

How big is this whiteboard? Would it be visible to parents?If it is would that be an issue?

 

We have an A3 sheet. Across the top the days of the week down the lefthand side the areas of learning. At the bottom what the adult focus may be that week, and anything we have changed significantly which would go into the SEF when we review, (i.e. we have changed storytime to earlier in the morning because...............)

 

Each week we have a staff meeting - to this meeting (half an hour) key persons bring ideas, and small next steps for each of their key children. (The small next steps are as you are suggesting but they are linked to the main/overall next step for the half term for their key child). This is fed in on the planning sheet.

 

During the week when we get time, we evaluate how things are going - each key person adds what they have done- (as scrappy as you like - it's a working document afterall), things get carried over, things get crossed out (child just not ready or, indeed interested or something better has come along in the meantime). At the next meeting this evaluation is finished off if need and filed and a new sheet started.

 

Now the most important thing Welcome to the Forum! Don't disappear now that you are with us. Keep the questions coming and enjoy exploring the site.

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WOOOAAAAHHHHH there girl! Do a bit at a time or your staff will have a melt down!!

 

Be wary too of changing 'products' for the parents too quickly...however once they realise you can do the job then they will begin to accept these more easily.

Its so good to see someone that is sooooooo positive at this time of the year!

 

Anyway, I agree with Finleysmaid about parents, you need to ensure that its embedded with staff before fully involving parents. Nothing worse than parents asking staff who cant or dont want to explain how it all fits together. :rolleyes:

Good luck!

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Our planning is same as Panders, A3 sheets (indoor and outdoor). We all write and scribble on it, initials of children using continuous provision, any extensions etc. We have a box across the bottom to write any next steps to carry forward at the next weekly planning meeting.

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So do your next steps change weekly? My worry would be that with 25 children in a session, not all of them will develop a new next step or that some children are a little more 'vocal' with their interests than others so would some be a bit left out? Does it matter if some week children aren't 'mentioned' on the board? A3 sheets sound good, but storage is an issue for us which is why I wanted paperless. But I guess the format would work on a whiteboard? I was thinking it would be kind of A1 size so pretty big! It would be visible to parents, we have a parent help rota so a different parent 'helps' us every day for a morning session and would actually see the board being used.

Thank you for all your ideas and help, I've not worked as a manager before so need all the help I can get!

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As a small setting (keypersons have 6/7 children each) we use a system (at the moment!) where we all have a child of the week. We speak to parents week before to update any interests etc from home. During that child's week, their previous set of next steps will be evaluated, - have they been met, any difficulties, moved on etc., Interests in the setting will be picked out of the previous planning sheets. Keyperson will carry out any longer observations that may be needed. The adult focused activities for that week will based around the 4 'children of the week' (they will always overlap), a set of next steps (no more than 3) for the following 6 weeks with be identified and at the end of the week we feed back to parents again.

It sounds very complicated when I am writing this down but it works for us due to the numer of children and number of keypersons.

The keyperson keeps a record of all their children next steps and when we plan the continous provision areas eg construction, they feed in the rest of their children eg younger children sharing resources or older children build with a purpose in mind. Its ongoing, normally a 6 week cycle. Everyone still does 'wow' moment obs for other people. To be honest, lots of the children have the same or very similar next steps. We are still on a paper system - no internet - no tapestry.

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That sounds good but we have a team of 5 staff and only three of us are full time so we have more key children than the others. So it's really hard to find something that works! I'm concerned that the two part timers will struggle with pressure to input on the board every day. They can both hide a bit behind other people's work but they won't be able to do so this way. I want them to contribute fairly but don't want to scare them!

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Hi there Lempylump, welcome to the forum, and congratulations on your promotion.

Ill echo what others have said and think you cant change the world overnight. Can you, eg through supervisions, get a real feel for what the staff think needs changing, or would like to change, so that they feel part of the improving practice as you go along? Likewise with parents? Once you have got a clear idea, you can agree what changes to make when, so which are most important, which can wait a term or two etc.

 

In terms of planning, I have worked with settings that have done the whiteboard approach so it becomes a 'living document' evolving throughout the week. To keep a record of this over time, they take a photo of it at the beginning and end of the week. This enables them to reflect back over time to see if areas are being missed, or anything becomes too repetitive.

 

Do you have some way of recording summaries of learning eg 3 times a year (you may call them reports, progress reviews etc). These are where you could record specific next steps (or whatever you want to call them) which can also be shared with parents.

 

Good luck with it all, you have certainly come to the right place for support and ideas.

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I am also thinking of moving away from focus children each week, having KP's plan for possibly 3 NS's (prime or specif depending on child's age/development) per KC at start of half term and then having much more flexible weekly planning where KP assesses progress over the half term through use of continuous provision and adult led activities planned from interests rather than just a 10 min planned activity to meet one child's next step, haven't quite thought it through fully or know if it will work but again want to cut down paper based planning for the sake of it, and as said many children are wanting the same NS, also wanting to get away from something planned one week to meet an individual child's NS only to find the same/similar thing is added the following wk for a different child, I like the white board idea but hate the smudging that always seems to happen when lots of people adding to it :/

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As we have all said - its a case of finding a system that works for your individual setting and staff at that moment in time. Lets face it, we are all constantly changing what we do. I want my staff to do less, but better quality written observations so that they spend more time engaging with the children. I think I will use the peer observations as a way in to make the changes.

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Hi Lempylump. If you have'nt read it , I reccommend The Nursery Year in Action by Anna Ephgrave - very inspirational and intend to put lots of her ideas into my practice! Paperless planning and NO next steps planning! Good luck in your new position : )

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Hi and welcome, sounds great!

I have a 2 NS system which are done on a rolling basis and activities linked to interests to cover the NS, however I'm too looking at a more versatile approach so at present I'm thinking of dropping to one NS with an interest row on a white board my concern with ours is that it would be wiped off by other users or as movement of the board occurs.

Love the idea of paperless planning but I get scared that the "quieter" or less attending children will get missed, keep posting about your changes I'd love to hear how they go x

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Following with interest... our planning has been a constant source of bother this last year and I'm keen to get a handle on it. I like the idea of paperless - a board sounds good and photos of it as 'evidence' should anyone need to see any.

 

Currently, we have an A3 sheet with our continuous provision on, then KPs are meant to add enhancements, changes, children's initials etc, but I found it was just me and the deputy doing anything! Something needs adjusting...

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Following with interest... our planning has been a constant source of bother this last year and I'm keen to get a handle on it. I like the idea of paperless - a board sounds good and photos of it as 'evidence' should anyone need to see any.

 

Currently, we have an A3 sheet with our continuous provision on, then KPs are meant to add enhancements, changes, children's initials etc, but I found it was just me and the deputy doing anything! Something needs adjusting...

 

Same here, and I'm watching with interest. :1b :1b

 

I will add my next steps are VERY basic, fluid and can change daily!

Unless a child has specific needs- with very clear next steps.... all other children are very very

basic like:- sharing, toilet training taking turns, using a cup etc.

 

I may go against the grain but I really can't see the point of 'paperwork for sake of paperwork'. If a chid is progressing as normal then I really cannot see the point of writing stuff up just so Ofsted can see what we do daily!! They only come (hopefully xD ) once every three years or so anyway.

 

However we do track out children every term- any this is where we see of any children are below (or above) the correct development levels - and this is taken into account when planning.

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Dear LempyLump,

It was really nice to hear your thoughts and the experiences of others too as I also want to review the planning system within the setting that I am taking over.

Its an exciting time but I'm aware changes should be implemented slowly with time to reflect and evaluate.

 

I want everyone (children / staff & parents) to be on board, feel valued and listened too, plus everyone will also be adapting to my style of leadership and support.

 

I seem to have a very long summer to do list!!

 

Keep us updated on how you get on :1b

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Hi Rafa. Think I will also take a look at this. I have seen others mentioning it. Thanks.

Hi Rafa. Think I will also take a look at this. I have seen others mentioning it. Thanks.

Yes do! A little tip, if you browse it on Amazon you can open lots of pages of the book , so it will give you an idea if its the kind of thing you may be interested in.........I was hooked, bought the book and feel a new sense of freedom coming our way in Learning through Play. :)

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Hi Lempylump. If you have'nt read it , I reccommend The Nursery Year in Action by Anna Ephgrave - very inspirational and intend to put lots of her ideas into my practice! Paperless planning and NO next steps planning! Good luck in your new position : )

I have ordered this - I'm hoping for great things from it! :D

 

Hello Lempylump and a very warm welcome to the forum - you'll like it here - we spend hours talking about planning! xD

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Love this thread, I'm Sat on my sunbed on my holidays and planning was the Bain of my life this past year and feel now we have switched to tapestry and my staff are sort of confident with it, there's always one in every group!! That doesn't like change... anyway thought I'd see if anyone on here had any words of wisdom definitely going to get the book and revamp our planning process I just worry because not all practitioners are so diligent and I fear that some children won't have any form of planning going to try olp for cohorts and seen as next year I've the luxury of no key children and been super numery eek! I'll implement that across the setting then each practitioner can implement their focused next steps....not sure how it will pan out but I love meddling with stuff keeps them on their toes ;)

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I've ordered the book and read it from cover to cover! Really good and I was very jealous of the lovely environment at her nursery school! I love the planning in the moment sheets, think I could do the same but on a whiteboard so still saving paper. We would struggle to do 'focus children' as we have part time staff and children come random sessions, some even just doing one morning a week. But I find as a key worker, we know the best times to 'focus' on each child. I would still do snapshots and focus obs for learning journeys. Still not sure about ditching next steps. I want to but worry I won't have enough evidence that each child is still getting a next step it's just happening all the time instead of written down. Need to think!

 

Thanks for the book recommendation though!

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