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Struggling In Reception Class


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I don't really know if anyone can help me but I'm tearing my hair out at the moment. I've just joined a new school in September as a YR teacher, having been teaching YR for 2 years in a different school. The children in the new school are mainly 'middle class' and would have done well in a baseline assessment. The thing is, it's all very formal at the school and there's an attitude that "if it ain't broke, don't fix it". Well, I jolly well think it needs fixing, and I'm (cautiously) makine some changes. I think the head is "on my side" too, which helps.

 

The problem really is that I'm stuck as part of the KS1 team, where last year I was Foundation Stage Co-ordinator, and part of SMT as a result. I'm finding it very difficult to settle to having another person in charge of me, and someone who doesn't really see the point of Child Initiated work or observations of children, at that! Do you think that there's any way I would be able to talk my headteacher into making me the Foundation Stage co-ordinator (no money nor SMT position required)?

 

I don't know if this is ever done in a 1 form entry school, but I do have things that need to be done (e.g. reviewing policy and medium term scheme of work, and buying new resources) which may make it justifiable (?) I would really appreciate anyone's advice or experience on this as I'm not sure how best to proceed at the moment!

 

Thanks for reading, I know that I've written rather a lot!

 

Dianne

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Hi Dianne,

Welcome to the site and thanks for making your first post. I agree with you; you shouldn't have to be part of the KS1 team (not until the FS extends into it, wishful thinking, etc etc!)and I think your idea of creating a new job title for yourself is an excellent one. If you feel that your Head is supportive, it would be a good idea to contact your LEA School Improvement Service for some advice here. The SIS will have a dept., all be it quite small, which is especially for Early Years. They may suggest some courses for you, your Head, and your line manager to go on in the near future; there does seem to be a definite pull toward getting people to work together, from across the Key Stages I mean. The Featherstone book "Smooth Transitions" suggests ways in which you could work with your KS1 colleagues so that they get a clearer picture of what the FS is about, and so that you can all work together to make the transition from FS to year 1 as painfree as possible.

In addition to feeling top-down pressure from your KS1 colleagues, do you also find that your parents don't understand the philosophy of the FS, and perhaps don't see the value in play? If so, the SureStart Unit have produced a video, posters, and leaflet pack for you to use with parents, to explain how the FS works in practice.

Finally, your EYDCP is likely to have a training team, who, as well as providing courses and support for nurseries and childminders, will probably include reception teachers in their remit. They are obviously going to be plugging the learning through play approaches and might be able to come up with some suggestions to help you.

Let us know what happens. I'm sure there are many practitioners out there who are in a very similar situation to you, and would welcome some advice. :)

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Helen, Don't despair. Mary Jane Drummond and myself have just completed some research for ATL (The Association of Teachers and Lecturers) about reception class practices. Apart from the fact that the research isn't very 'rosy' in terms of reception class practices (which is the bad news), the good news is that we have put into the main report a lot of advice on how we might proceed to get better reception class support - we know only too well how much in need of it reception class teachers are. We found very much that reception class sits between two very different pressures - that of the Foundation Stage and of KS1 - and it should NOT! You are now part of the Foundation Stage and should be proud of it! Janet

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Hi Dianne,

Even in a school, with a supportive head there are issues that seem to negate the ethos of FS.

I've been given draft literacy & numeracy trackers today to preview and while I don't deny we need to track progress these are rather daunting if I need to produce figures every half term!

 

However that doesn't solve your problem, I think if I were you I'd go with list in hand, of the things you want to do & ask to do them.

Explain the difficulties you feel you are encountering and perhaps indicate as Helen has suggested your avenues for support and see what happens.

Presumably you applied for a job, were interviewed and met success critria or you'd not have been appointed! Perhaps your head is waiting for you to settle in before she approaches you with these tasks, especially if there is no money etc to give you. What have you got to lose by putting your cards on the table? Can't make you any less happy can it?

 

Whatever you decide good luck & keep us posted.

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Dianne, Im sorry to hear that you are having a rotten time in reception at the moment. You will meet plenty of people here who have had similar problems. The first things that came to mind was does your school have a nursery? I am presuming that it doesnt because it seems quite common that schools without nurseries end up lumping recption into KS1. Otherwise in a small school like yours, you end up with a phase of 1. I also wonder if your Head wants you to change things, as Susan says, perhaps they are waiting for you to settle in. I went to look at a reception post recently, and they never once mentioned on their person spec a knowledge of the Foundation curiculum or the FSP. Needless to say, I didnt apply, as I knew it wouldnt suit me.

 

Please dont give up, go and see your Head or another member ofthe SMT that you feel may know something about the problems you are having.

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  • 2 weeks later...

I started work in Reception at my current school 6 years ago. As there isn't a nursery and the ethos was very formal, it was always considered part of KS1. My Head and the Nursery Nurses attached to my class, supported my early years approach. In addition, the higher profile of Early years education since 2000 and a positive OFSTED report has helped me define my role as a key stage coordinator and has helped parents and other members of staff understand that children can achieve, learn and develop well with this approach. I would encourage you to discuss your professional concerns in your staff development interview (with your Head or Deputy?)- your role as a key stage leader needs to be in your job description and you need time to administer a curriculum that is organised and assessed in a different way to the rest of school! Good luck, it might take time but don't lose heart!

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I think your first move should be to ask for an appt to see your HT. Don't try to squeeze it in durign the day, but make an appt and give her an idea of what you want to discuss. Make notes about all the things you need to talk about. To make it run smoothly, I'd add in some non-contentious items too. Give her an update about how things are going in Reception, take documentation with you and talk to her about where you feel you are not meeting requirements.

 

Don't take it too fast, and I wouldnt mention finding it hard having someone 'in charge' of you. That is something that sometimes you need to adjust to - it is likely to happen again in the future as you move around, and is not so much the issue as being able to build strong teamwork across FS and KS1. Maybe after your meeting with the HT another one could be scheduled for with your KS1 colleagues.

 

Good luck - let us know how it goes! :o

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