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It Doesn't Feel Right


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Today, my play leader gave me a piece of paper headed:

Spring Term 04 Medium Term Plans.

 

 

It was left next to my handbag, no explanation, no anything.

 

It reads:

 

PERSONAL, SOCIAL AND EMOTIONAL DEVELOPMENT

Relate and make attachments to members of the group, demonstrate a sense of pride in own achievements.

Extension younger children - Have a sense of belonging.

Extension 4 year olds - Show care and concern for others, for other living things and for the environment.

 

MATHEMATICS

Willingly attempt to count, with some numbers in the correct order.

Use shapes appropriately for tasks.

Use size language such as big and little.

Show simailarities of shapes in the environment.

Extension 4 year olds - Question why things happen and give explanations.

Manipulate objects with increasing control.

 

COMMUNICATION LANGUAGE AND LITERACY

Have emerging self confidence to speak. [i think they missed 'about wants and interests']

 

..............................

 

 

and so it goes on, with mostly cream and blue stepping stones (we have children from 24 months to 4 yrs+ (due to enter school in Sept 04 as rising 5's)

 

I asked some silly questions tonight:

 

Do I assume that all of our children have covered the cream stepping stones for the blue ones given? (oh, no, work that out for yourself for the 40+ children or roll, look at comments written on the daily record sheets).

 

Are all of the children working to these stepping stones? (look at the daily record sheets - our daily record sheets are not tied in with the FS cuirriculum; they are just records of the 'nice bits' that parents want such as 'Rachel enjoyed cooking today'; nothing tied-in with specific curriculum stepping stones).

 

What about our SEN's? (look at the daily record sheets).

 

How about some of our most able children who have already covered all these stepping stones? (oh, no, they haven't - look at the daily record sheets). I'm afraid we can't fool those children - so many of them know their own abilities and are justifiably proud.

 

I feel so inadequate. This plan will do nothing for the children in the setting (two year olds, generally, will underachieve, and 4 year olds, generally, have already attained; those in between are lumped together, to no0 benefit).

 

I feel out of this. I have been told that I can read up on the children in my free time, i.e. at the end of the session, when all of the files are in already in the playleader's car (because the untrained staff say, that's it, let's get out of here as quickly as we can). The deputy playleader said I should read the children's files - just anecdotal stuff, see above, no stepping stone rerords - while I am supervising use of the toilet ........ 'oh, come on, hold on, I can't help you with wiping your bottom, using the soap, drying your hands, and no we can't do any rhymes at the same time - I just need to read this', ha ha ha).

 

I know that the foundation stage curriculum is not ideal. But, as a practitioner (lowly helper), I want to use this (and now, birth to 3 matters as well) to prepare children for further learning.

 

I would ideally like to work in a setting where individual children's achievements are valued and documented, and where their progress is recorded and celebrated. Although we have 40+ children, we do not have keyworkers. I do not understand how we work like this and why parents accept it. Perhaps we are still in the dark ages. The leader and her deputy do it all, then expect one of us unqualified minions (who know nothing about the child or his/her background) to get the child settled and learning.

 

We have a combined inspection imminent. If I am there when it happens, I will tell the truth. I am currently in training. The setting doesn't want it, but I do. And I understand why we need OFSTED.

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Diane

What can I say? It must be so frustrating for you. I can only assume that parents accept it because they don't know any different. If the group is the only one in the area and parents have not had experience elsewhere then they think that is what is supposed to be like. I know this from experience of other groups in our area. Older brothers or sisters have attended there, perhaps because they were the first child and parents didn't know what was available or because they were the nearest. They have then brought younger children to us and commented on how different we are-more organised, child friendly, do more with the children etc.

It will remain to be seen when you are inspected what the report says-and you can read it but preferably not in the toilets!!!! There will be comments about leadership and management.

Chin up and at least you have the satisfaction of knowing that, as far as possible, YOU have the children's best interests at heart.

Linda

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Our planning is a bit like yours and we cover the stepping stones on a two year rolling plan. We differenciate where necessary. BUT we work with keyworkers who know all there children and know where they are with the stepping stones. If a stepping stone for e.g. wk 1 is one that is advanced or below what a child can already do, it is down to the keyworker to make sure that child is catered for. Most of the stepping stones are filled in by just observing the children and watching or joining them in their play. Our planning works very well and none of us pull our hair out anymore.

Keep your chin up and see what the ofsted inspection brings up.

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Hi Lou

we do our stepping stones exactly the same as you - on a two year rolling plan and again it is up to the individual keyworker to assess weather thier children are at that level or above/below and work towards it accordiningly.

i hope this is satisfactory for when Ofsted come in - any minute now!!!

But we find out it works really well and all the staff are happy with it. :):):)

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Thanks, Linda, Lou and Hali for posting on my grumbling topic,

 

What I omitted from my first post, Lou, is that this is the first time the setting has identified stepping stones as part of medium term plans. Also, these stepping stones are supposed to cover an entire term (i.e. January to Easter).

 

In the olden days, when I wore a committee hat, and the senior staff were unable to commit to curriculum planning, I used to talk through with them the specific themes and topics for each term (or half term), I would then highlight aspects of the DLO's (desirable learning outcomes) that their proposed scheme would meet, and identify aspects that were not covered, so that I could suggest activities, etc, for the future. This worked in as much as it got something on paper (no more). Recording was not the group's strong point, even then, but I, and another committee parent, attempted to introduce differentiation. We both came away with the same message: yes there is differentiation because children with learning difficulties will not get as far as those without. Over the last 13 years nothing has changed in this respect. Our able children are not extended. Our less able children (including 2 year olds - outside the scope of stepping stones) are also not accommodated in plans.

 

This current 'Medium Term Plan' has 3 to 6 stepping stones identified for each learning area. These are not linked to specific activities. Our short-term (weekly) plans consist of a list of equipment out in the hall on each day of the week, plus a daily 'project'. We have 1 hour 15 minutes of completely free-choice time, followed by:

-whole group (20-26 children) mat-time doing a calender and weather chart

-whole group break time (3 tables, up to 10 children at each)

-whole group singing on the mat

-whole group 'project' time (3 tables again, all children do the same activity, e.g. craft, with pre-prepared stuff - oh look - something to take home)

-whole group physical activity (maybe bikes, balls, climbing frame - pure hell with so many children - parachute, etc)

-whole group story time

-whole group sharing time.

 

As you may imagine, this does not serve all of the children well. I do not interpret this as effective planning.

 

Some children only have the opportunity to participate and interact during 'free choice time', at this time children (all 26) can come and go at will. The problem with this is that all staff are 'floating' at this time. The supervisors do not delegate staff to activities.

 

For example, I might encounter a 2-year old upset at her mum's departure, and try to settle her in the book corner. An immature 2 year old's needs are not the same of those of three very capable 4 year olds, who are very nearly pre-reading, and two boisterous children who want to transport all the books to the far end of the hall for building towers. As we all know. Try adding the child who needs the toilet (and has already asked 2 other staff members). What do I do? I take the child to the toilet (if necessary, taking the 2 year old with me). Why? because if I can't meet a child's urgent physical needs, that child is not going to feel happy in the setting. But, what about the situation left behind? The 4 year olds have missed opportunities, the builders have missed opportunities and the 2 year old has been disrupted.

 

Try telling my supervisors that we need small group activities............. try saying we need staff deployed realistically ........... try saying we need circle time (but not with 26 children)..... try saying we need to have small group stories..... try saying 'let's do rhymes in small groups' ...... try saying what about board games (what, with it open to all 26?) ...

 

I am beating my head against a brick wall. Planning has not moved on in the last 13 years. Nor has organisation (bearing in mind that minimum age for our intake has gone down from 2 years 9 months to 2 years).

 

Thanks all for getting back, I look forward to your advice,

 

Diane

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Oh Dianne

 

i do feel for you. When i took over as supervisor our group was very much like yours.... :wacko:

 

All i can say is tell them what on earth an ofsted inspector would say to them if you were inspected because if its as bad as your saying it is their report is going to be dire.....

 

I have found that after 3 yrs of trialing different methods aour planning is the best it has been and all my staff are happy with thier workloads as much as they can be.... :)

 

You sound like your the one holding the place together and i take my hat off to you. maybe you should suggest that your supervisor viit some other pre schools to find out how they cope on a dialy basis.. or get your local pla or early years team in to see what they think about your setting. xD

 

Anyhow keep up your goood work im amazed your still working there but well done for keeping your standards up in a very difficult, trying situation. :oxD:(:(:(

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Hi Diane

How do you do it all? Too much going on to be able to let the children have time to explore for themselves. Has your supervisor been on any planning courses, if not maybe you could encourage her too. If she has well i dont think she understood whats needed. Diane the only positive thing is that it is not on your head if ofsed say anything. I can if you want send you some of my planning, maybe you could get ideas and you are welcome to show your supervisor.

Hali we had a care inspection last month and the inspector asked about our plans. She seemed happy with them. I have been told as long as you can explain what, why and how and you are catering for all of the children you will be ok. You are within your rights to argue that your planning works as long as you can prove it.

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Diane,

 

It may be difficult, but having an inspection may be the best thing that can happen in your setting. If the inspector does their job properly they should pick up on all these planning and staff deployment issues and your supervisors will have no choice but to change things. Good Luck!

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