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On your planning do you have columns for 'More able' and 'Less Able'?

Discussion in 'Early Years' started by BrainJim, Oct 27, 2010.

  1. brainjim..what is succient? it isn't in my dictionary?
    Dear amazedbygrace sorry if you took my response badly. It is lovely that is is grace and her dad and great tha you reply as her mum,; mums being sometimes a little more practical than head in the clouds dad's .. well in my case anway.. you see an underlying anger or energy drives my writing here and I suppose at its root is that school dumbs us down. In my way of looking at the moment and from my refelction on experiece. I know it is only a point of view but that is all we all have, none of us in the end are measured only by what we know , nor by what we can do but rather by the depths of our questions and the strength of our feelings- neither of which see ot be too well catered for within the uniformity of schooling I see, especially in the UK currently. corporate schools, federated philosophies and whole-schol agreements on just aout everything except breathing seem to me at least to restrict life to a smaller dimension. I see young life being curtailed at even younger ages by misinformed systems. I don't care if she (my daughter at 4) tallks about bigger or not, that is no objective for my child, she knows which ice-cream she wants bigger only helps her get it, - she knows bigger very well but she has no interest in using that language in a context that doesn't benefit her... and so on, for so many of the 'desireable outcomes' for young children.
    Of course on the one hand it isn't easy to quantify, define or systematise what I am saying, yet on the other it is what teaching is about, why some are teachers and others aren't, it is perhaps about having faith in the dynamics of human interaction to educate and inform, to be shaped by the forces of history and tradition balanced against the inexorable push of the present. If we don't agree, or aren't sure let's talk with the teachers as they stand there astride this grand flow of life trying to balance and guide it's energy. Let's not say that they should give evidence, should know the answers, lets listen for their questions that will give us as much, or more than enough.
  2. I think he means 'succinct'.
  3. yohana I do find you very middle class and very self-indulgent. All that navel-gazing is fine but for a large number of children learning basic skills in literacy and numeracy (even abstract ones) is essential at 4 if they are not to fall behind children from more supportive homes. Fine if you come from a supportive home not so great if you don't.
    People like yohana are all 'FS should be all play this and all self-led' that however fast forward a few years and those same middle class parents are kicking the doors down of the best high schools while the poor (and I mean poor) little social experiment of a child who never caught up gets no choice at all. People like yohana and others on here are free and easy with the education of other people's children but soon change their tune when they can't get this or that for their own child.
    This whole debate is not about educational philosophy it is about social class. For many middle class children going to reception class serves no real educational purpose as the curriculum is so undemanding. They would learn just as much at home. Not true for some of the poorer children in our society. This is why you middle class self-centred posters advocate this 'child-centred' philosophy because it doesn't impact on you at all.
  4. mumbobumbo

    mumbobumbo New commenter

    I have to say, I agree.
    I've only been here a couple of weeks and those who jump on other people's posts because they, oh my goodness, assess their children, share this learning with parents through the use of Learning Journeys, plan next steps for them - are so predictable.
    Yes I do all those things. I also play and talk with children, when they want me to. Yes I provide different equipment/support/questioning/time for different children because that is what they need. I then use the overview I have of my group to evaluate what I do, what the setting provides and then I improve it.

  5. That is why we teach basic skills in literacy and numeracy (especially abstract ones). At this age these skills are learned through experience, so that the concrete experience of , for instance, pouring water into a pot, links up with the abstract notion of 'full' and 'empty'. If you try to tell children about full and empty you are on a hiding to nothing. If you show them full and empty a few more will catch on. If you share the experience of full and empty they stand a chance of getting it (the abstract concept). Before they can get the abstract concepts they have to have experience of the concrete. These are the basic skills that are taught in The Foundation Stage - they are the foundations of what children will learn as they go through school and without them the whole edifice will be insecure.
    This debate is about what is the best way for children to learn. Yohanna may have her head in the clouds but if you translate what she says into something more prosaic you will see that she is advocating a child centred, experiential curriculum based in a belief in children's ability to learn in a warm and secure environment. These children are very young and very much in need of nurturing still. Provide conditions that are secure and child-friendly and the children will have a head start over the children in a pushy, target led environment, where failure to achieve the target is displayed for all to see on the wall display. And which children are likely to be told they are failing at this young age - the children from less supportive backgrounds (of whatever social class).
    As you say, although I don't think you meant it, it is the children from poorer homes that are most in need of the play experiences provided in a good EYFS environment. They have to have the hands on experiences they might not have had access to at home so that the foundations are there for the abstract.
  6. mystery10

    mystery10 Occasional commenter

    Thumbie, I found your answer very helpful, thank you. The only reason I asked about ability at this stage is because I get the feeling that many reception teachers do in some way group and provide activities and stretch by what they perceive to be ability, and this concerns me. Isn't this what the initial question was about?
    Now from what you have explained to me, I think it is the "focus activities" that I need to understand a little more about. Are these teacher initiated? If I have understood the terminology correctly maybe I am concerned that the focus activities provided to some children may be "too easy" (wrong words again I am sure) if the child has not, for whatever reason, demonstrated what they can do during the child-initiated time. Then some children do not particularly respond to a focus activity that is too simple, so again this might continue the problem. Does this ever happen in your experience?

  7. yes to be fair, to thumbie my head might be in the clouds some fof the time, but my roots are in the same soil as those that brainjim purports to want to help. ANd there is sufficient passion and rancour there for me to feel that he is sincere. However passion I also share but obviously a far greater disdain of a system which is evidently not producing the gains that we would lke to see. It has been this way since we have had schooling from four. I used to blame the teachers, until I became one, now I think it is what is given to teachers that is at the root of the problem. That is why I don't want to write anything that smacks of educational speak. Thumbie's explanations are the most lucid and educationally sound that I have seen on here, but for me now I prefer the non-succinct. I don't want to convince and say I have a better arguement, or a stronger logic. . Congratulations Thumbie because they are positve and attempt to place the educational argument in context, with knowledge and a real understanding of the realities on all sides. The problem for me is that I no longer have fatih in the educational argument. I no longer have faith in the english system to deliver the changes that are necessary. Everything I can see from outside the English system seems to point to a way of thinking that is talking us down the wrong route. Middle-class, self-important, naval-gazing, flowery, and ultimately irrelevant I may be but I will put the view on here.

    It is so obviously the quality of interaction, not necessarily the quality of experience that takes children forward. This can be poor in any type of teaching and excellent in many relationships that aren't teaching. If we all agree that it is the well-lain foundation that allows strong, continuous, upward grwoth then it is well worth the debate as to how to dig those foundations. If intellectual instruction and differentiated groupings were the way forward in early years then so be it. I am not convinced at all that this model works either in primary or secondary so why should it in nursery. I dislike spoon feeding whether it be with a small, medium or big spoon related to my supposed appetite. Creating a postive, high achieving learning environment is a science and an art. It is about an individual teacher's capacity to reach out to the ideals they carry within them, or which have grown through their years of teaching. I am sorry if you think what I say is unhelpful and unclear, but I so not see that tinkering with the system will help. The real agents of change are the teachers. Reducing the importance of sytems and raising the aspirations of teachers seems to be one way. I admit I don't know. Are children from he disabling backgrounds achieving highly because of what we put in place? I just don't think so. The statistics and results don't convince me. Maybe they do everyone else. The concerned parents on here seek to give their children every benefit and that is the natural way. We do the best we can within the means we have.

    Poo poo wha I say as middle class but I don't want to see and hear such complex stuff around teaching young children, I have heard and carried out focus activities until they come out of my ears. I am just tired of it all, the feeling that it is all so precious and important that we can lambast anyone who doesn't do what others say they should do. I can't be succinct if I try. If anyone here thinks thay have a better way of demolishing the behemoth of targeting and evaluating, planning and moderating to allow us to arrive at a state where schooling can begin later and education can begin sooner then i am with you.. The biggest quesiton for me has always been and remains is how to get the highest quality of interaction, for the maximum amount of time with children on an individual level that draws them out and teaches them skills that they need in their life now. There are many issues witihn the complex free-flow nursery environments that make this really difficult, but likewise in any way of working with this young age group. I saw some of the best of this in the british playgroup, with non-specialist adults. We voted in governments that created a system which took money away from locally grown, self-help, often highly efficient and effective playgroups which gave children a great emotional-social base, along with ratios o 1 to 8, giving lots of talk about the child's everyday world. Then we threw it out. Put it into the ahands of accountants who in turn put measured and wieghed into the hands of schools and thereby into the hands of teachers. Teachers who know little about alternatives. We then put hildren into environment which are noit enabling because they are constrained by the accountants who created them What do we get, less for more. I am as angry as anyone on here but I wonder if anyone really knows at what to direct their anger?

    The conclusion for me is tha no children of this age group need to be in school. They need a lot of things but not schooling, not uniformity, not measurement that makes them fall short by the age of three. Ths only highights and continues disadvantage.
  8. Are you actually in the English education system yohan? You sound like one of those ex-pats who forever criticise Britain and says they will only come back to Britain when whatever it is has gone but the minute they have an in-growing noe tail it is first plane back and taxi to the nearst NHS hospital.
  9. yohan I am sorry I haven't fully read your second reply (too busy teaching my little girl big and little in a meaningful context :). I think I understood you effectively but being a sunday and rather lacking sleep I may have misunderstood. I guess you are saying in brief that children should be supported in meaningful contexts and will develop at thier own pace and only by naturally occurring circumstances. This I believe is actually at the essence of our early education system, however there are times when children need supporting to move forward and this 100% should be done in meaningful contexts. Funnily enough during the size activities they did actually make biscuits and children choose to eat "big" or "small" seems you and Gracie's teacher may be on the same page, except she is planning for what she wants to achieve with her kids and you don't think it's a good idea to restrict in this way. And funnily enough I actually agree with you in context but for once I agree with Braingym there are some children that actually due to social environment or other circumstance need additional targeted support, and the EYFS supports this.

    At the end of the day, it does not matter to the child whether the teacher records this with less/more able etc. it is actually the quality of the teaching and environment that is the issue but in order to prove this effectively the planning needs to be there in some form and this is often best facilitated by personal planning systems.
    Ps. Yohan do you use a mac, and therefore are unable to use paragraphs? If yes they can be put in using no spaces.
  10. inky

    inky Lead commenter

    What I really hate is the clumping together of three-year-olds with five-year-olds under the Early Years umbrella. To me this is the most confusing, misleading, potentially damaging arrangement we could possibly have for our little children.
    Worse,we have a 'parents are so **** that we must make up for their defficiencies' mentalilty. Children who haven't attended a nursery are seen as hard done by.

  11. inky

    inky Lead commenter

    Does anyone truly want their three-year-old child assessed re 'ability'?
    Let's face it, the real problem with nurseries is the varying calibre of nursery staff.
  12. inky

    inky Lead commenter

    Sorry, that should have read 'one of the problems...'
    The other problem is the stupidity of people in authority who have highjacked the notion of Learning Through Play so that every bit of play has to have a Learning Intention. Don't they realise how ridiculous that is?

    Sorry to rant but Johana isn't the only angry person round here.[​IMG]
  13. inky

    inky Lead commenter

    Im' appalled that I wrote that. What I think I mean is that we're all treated as though we were raw recruits in our teens. Calibre was the wrong word and I apologise for using it before anyone jumps down my throat in righteous indignation. [​IMG]
  14. amazing grace thanks for re-interpreting me, at least you try to give me the benefit of having some sense under the flower. I don't disagree with either you or anyone else about the need to reach out to, connect with and show children the richness and possibility of the world that we as teachers are charged with bringing to them. That is unthinkable without books and reading, maths and scince, languages and music - BUT at the appropriate time or at least in an appropriate way.

    I agree so very much that teaching is reaching out to all children and I remember the words of Dr JOhn Brierley 'it is just to treat children differently as long as each child is treated as well as possible' . When I write on here I see individual children, their circumstances and their natual self-righting way of trying to make sense of their world- if they are given the chance. I have experienced at first hand the practical alternative systems (steiner, montessori, high scope, reggio emilia, european schools, playgroups, nursery schools and classes in eyfs,) from within my own, trying to understand how to be a better teacher. Sat down and listened to what each does, doing it hand in hand in most cases - their hand in mine- and perhaps I am just a bit cheesed off with the numbing effect of the empty vessel approach of some schools and teachers, and really cheesed off with the vanity that goes along with each new fashion that everyone has to wear, by decree.

    It is because early education has become so synonymous with EYFS in the primary school, and with that has come the downward spread of SMT's, SIP's, SWAT's and all the rest who have very rarely had the chance to experience anything different. SO we get the uniforms, the homework policies, the home-school agreements, the targets, the learning journeys, the over-complicated planning, the reading-the phonics-the spelling all before children are even five and where in many systems there were six years given over to more unregulated growth which then kicked off at 6/7 with reading and writing and maths etc. The welsh have thrown out the english way. We legislate and castigate, the big stick is now a ruler but we still use it and various carrots to avoid us asking too many questions about who, and why, tells us all what to do with such certainty.

    Of course we need a highly organised disciplined teacher craft which as you say includes personal planning systems, evaluation and the imagination to see into the next steps for each child. I suppose I take that as read in a teacher. It seems to have become the be all and end all and I find it particularly uninspiring, perhaps too long in it. Too long looking and searching, visiting, listening, to alternatives. some on here seem to disparage and dismiss so much, but to me it isn't clear what they want, what young child is actually in the minds eye when they write. What do they do everyday (except criticise). Are they with very yong children in any capacity? We have had education since 5 since 1944? (I'm not a historian). The class divide, achievement and success still firmly inequitable. Will applying that system longer, more bindingly in the very early years change that?

    Yes I put paragraphs in. This should be one just starting. When I upload will it have gone?
  15. inky

    inky Lead commenter

    That's known as Best Practice.
    [Wanted to do a smiley but couldn't decide which one]

  16. Focus activities are teacher initiated, with teachers taking into account what the children are interested in, and what their next steps need to be, when planning the activity.
    There should not be a problem with focus activities being too easy because they should be flexible enough to accomodate the skills and abilities that a child brings to them. For instance, if it is a counting activity there should be opportunities for children to count as far as they can as well as opportunities for children to count small amounts learning techniques for counting with 1/1 correspondence. Typically, for more able children, the teacher would give opportunities to write numbers, or count on. That is really down to the teacher's skill in realising what is needed for individual children, and making sure there is an element of challenge. No teacher worth their salt would stop when a child has done the planned intention that they count accurately to 10 if it is obviously easy for them. They would explore just how far the child can count, and in what circumstances (eg straight line, scattered objects etc.)
    There are children who don't want to be bothered with focus activities - they like the independence of choosing what they want to do for themselves and don't like conforming to the teacher's agenda. This is where tapping into children's interests is invaluable, making the focus activity something they will want to do. I don't think this is about the focus activity being too simple, it's just about who controls the activity. I have known children comply with the teacher and come to take part in the activity but try their hardest to get away as quickly as possible ("Can I go now"). To me this proves that for some children CI play is the best way forward. Of course it's possible to be authoritarian and coerce children to come to the focus activity, and not let them get away too soon - but what quality of response can be expected in this situation?
  17. I use a mac with Firefox browser - no problem with paragraphs.
  18. Ibuzzybea

    Ibuzzybea Occasional commenter

    You are right if you use firefox is usually ok, but safari needs html code on here to make paragraphs??
  19. inky

    inky Lead commenter

    Try downloading firefox and see if that works.
  20. inky

    inky Lead commenter

    If you can!

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