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Pros or cons of Foundation Stage units

Discussion in 'Early Years' started by clare3, Apr 23, 2010.

  1. We are exploring creating a FS unit. Currently have 1 reception and 1 N class. What are your experiences? I can imagine there are lots of benefits, but am also panicking about possible chaos! Also how do you manage keeping track of all the children in terms of observations if they are spread out in different rooms? I find it hard enough keeping 30 profiles up to date, but if 26 N children were mingled in, think it would be even harder. Our children are very needy and come in at very low levels. At the moment they thrive on a calm N environment but im not sure it would be this way if we changed. Also for R, how do you organise adult led activities eg guided reading and writing with much younger children in the same settling? Will try to be open minded though!
  2. Hi. I think you are wise to think carefully. We have changed from separate N and R to a fully integrated FSU, although I understand that some units work separately for some of the session and freeflow for the rest.
    Pros - children can learn with other children of the same stage but differing ages, sharing space saves space and gives bigger spaces for children to learn in, transition from N to R is seamless, sharing staff can make for more flexible staffing and focus group opportunities/team teaching/sharing expertise, older children support and extend younger children in their play,
    Cons - planning and organisation is more complex, key person idea becomes more necessary in a larger scale and more fluid environment, but where do adults base themselves and do they see their key children if those children don't choose to go to that area .Also your Key children are not always in your focused groups.What happens when most children choose to be in one area, do the staff leave focused activities to ensure safety? Children no longer have a class identity and intos and plenaries seem less relevant because children are often doing very different things and not working as a class group.At times the complexity of a unit makes it unmanageable and chaos reigns, you really have to watch children who choose low level , flitting or boisterous play as they can loose out and change the learning environment for children around them too. Also 1-1 reading really doesn't fit well with this set up as it ties up staff who need to be alongside children in their play.
    As you can probably gather, I am not a huge fan of the fully integrated model! If your children respond well to a calm , nurturing environment and are making good progress, I would think carefully before making changes. This is only my view ,what do others think?

  3. Leapyearbaby64

    Leapyearbaby64 New commenter

    Our school has a unit where they have part free-flow and part separate sessions. It works really well - happy compromise without any of the disadvantages decribed by toobusy.
  4. Msz

    Msz Established commenter

    We had an Early Years unit for many years (nursery & reception sometimes working together sometimes apart) then about 6 years ago we became a fully intergrated FSU unit and found this very successful for meeting the needs of all our children ( children started on their third birthday - up to rising sixes) we didn't experience any of the negatives described by toobusy.As a reception teacher I found a real advantage in having worked with the children for up to 5 terms before they started reception meant they knew me well but more importantly I knew them well.
    With the introduction of EYFS and extended nursery provision we have gradually moved back to how we worked previously - less time interacting as a unit - less team planning
  5. I started in a fully integrated FSU at the February half term, but now for the sake of progression of the Reception children we are looking at separating the Nursery and Reception upon our Heads and LEA advisors suggestions. The integration meant alot of restrictions in terms of timetables in the way the day was run but staffing was still very flexible.
    Im quite nervous about this in terms of ensuring the children have access to the areas but can see how it can allow for more structured inputs for the Reception children in the lead up to Year 1.

  6. Thanks for your replies. toobusy, those cons are some of the images I have, knowing what our children are like! unfortunately we will have well over 30 children in R next year, so some sort of re-organistion is essential. Either having an extra teacher in R, and sharing teaching in the same classroom or have an extra person in a combined N/R unit. hmmm lots to think about!
  7. I manage a unit with 60 Reception children and 39 nursery (78 in a day- all are part time).
    We have a very strong key worker system and we start and end the session in key groups. The rest of the time all staff work with all children. We all update each other's records and are fully integrated. It is very hard to meet the needs of the just 3's as well as the nearly 6's but we have been graded as Outstanding and I feel it's working as well as a foundation unit can. Planning wise, I have overall responsibility for timetabling which is a bit of an artform! Children are split by stage of development and each teacher has responsibility for a particular group for a term. We have extended periods of uninterrupted time for the children and all staff 'play' for a good chunk of the day. Please p.m me if you would like some more information x
  8. Hettys

    Hettys New commenter

    This is a very interesting topic. in our area we have very few nurseries attached to schools so most children go to private or charity run nurseries/playgroups until they start school in reception. do you think our children are at a disadvantage compared to the children you describe who are accessing qualified teachers, school buildings/routines etc?
  9. Msz

    Msz Established commenter

    It very much depends on the quality of staff. There are some excellent pre schools
  10. We started in September by combining our nursery class with the reception class. A lot of money was spent on moving the reception class and refurbishing it with wooden flooring throughtout etc so it looked like one continous space. What we did keep was the doors which have proved to be very useful to shut down areas andhave quiet work spaces. Anyway it has been a steep learning curve for all of us. I was the reception teacher and i was returning from maternity leave. We have a very strong key person system with children from both age phases and another group which we group on ability (| not necessarily age). We start the day with wake up shake up and then key person time, then snack then free flow for an hour, then literacy then lunch or younger ones going home. We started off with 38 reception and only 12 nursery age however as the nursery in take has increased so has our problems and we have constantly changed the timetable. We now have 37 nursery children
    Pros: the key groups have been wonderfu lwith a mixture of kids the older ones really look after the younger ones and they have a sense of belonging. The parents have reacted really well to the early years practictioners (spelling?) being their key person. There is greater flexibility for more able nursery kids who can work with the older ones in literacy and numeracy and less able can have reinforcement. No transisiton issues especially with the summer born reception kids.
    I feel we have higher expectations for the nursery kids |( but still giving them the nurturing that they need).

    Cons: there are far too many kids this term, big rising 6's and 3 and a half year olds especially on a wet day when most chose not to go outside. Our headteacher has seen the merger as a chance to cut staffing so before we had 1 nursery teacher and an advanced early years prac and 2 reception teachers and 2 early years prac and now for 73 kids we have 2 teachers, 2 early years practitioners and a part time TA.
    I have enjoyed this year even though it has been knackering and we have had to convince the parents that it is good. You need a positive staff who are all behind it.
    Good luck
  11. Msz

    Msz Established commenter

    I'm assuming from the numbers you have given that the majority of children will be school age at the end of the year (38 reception?) if this is the case legally you need another qualified teacher to comply with infant class size
  12. Don't know what its like in your area, but in some areas it is common for schools not to comply with infant class size regulations.
  13. Msz

    Msz Established commenter

    common but illegal and reportable
  14. Msz

    Msz Established commenter

    and will continue to be common unless teachers point out to heads that they are breaking the law
  15. Msz

    Msz Established commenter

    LAs have a responsibility to verify School Census returns before forwarding them to DCSF. It is important that LAs ensure they have systems in place which enable them to:
    Check the accuracy of returns e.g. the count been carried out during an ordinary teaching session
    - Contact schools where infant classes appear to be in breach of infant class size duty and ensure that urgent remedial action is taken;
    - Refer cases to the DCSF Fair Access Team (information.peu@dcsf.gsi.gov.uk ) if a school is in breach of infant class size duty but refuses to take remedial action.
  16. JO9832

    JO9832 New commenter

    I am just coming to the end of my first year in a unit and have taken up a new post as a nursery teacher with a separate Nursery and Reception classes. I have personally hated it . I think it depends on your team in my situation there are too many chiefs , philosophy of teaching early years was not on the same page and I felt i lost autonmony as the teacher. this I felt impacted on the children who are working in a chaotic environment , mess , my fs1 records were up to date but FS2 hardly touched and this has made me ill with worry about these children who I have no control over. I couldnt watch them become demotivated , handwriting is poor and so is reading. We took january starters so we had young 3 year old with children who will be 6 in September !!!!
    This is a very negative post but I think it would work if you had 2 strong teachers with a similar outlook but if not in my opinion its hell on wheels !!!

  17. How has this affected your free flow indoors? Do you have for example
    sand, water, malleable etc on both sides of the doors?
    Are you me? I could have wrote this. This is my feeling at the moment. Too many cooks!
    I completely agree, except I'm coming from an FS2 perspective lol! I feel like as a Reception teacher I'm incredibly lucky to begin forming relationships with the Nursery children so early on and getting to know them and creating a smooth transition. But the paperwork, assessments and different opinions on learning and play make it so difficult!
    Totally. I think if everyone is on the same page it makes a massive difference. I have staff who have joined our setting with no experience or knowledge of this age range and it's a nightmare. Just trying to get them some training is proving to be difficult.
  18. Msz

    Msz Established commenter

    Completely agree when we first became a unit the success was down to a very strong team all working together towards a shared vision but without that it makes life very difficult.
  19. The places I've seen that have got the "unit" thing working most sucessfully have clearly defined spaces for group time (those concertina type partition doors seem to work really well) so at varying times of the day they'll have nursery in their "base", reception in theirs and then open/close up according to what's going on.
  20. Msz

    Msz Established commenter

    We essentially have two separate rooms joined by a shared area so it's quite easy to have our own bases which I agree is needed.

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