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Y1 - Continuous Provision vs Whole Class Learning

Discussion in 'Primary' started by ElizaMorrell, Nov 14, 2017.

  1. ElizaMorrell

    ElizaMorrell Occasional commenter


    I have recently taken over a year 1 class, and the previous teacher has historically had continuous provision available throughout the day, while pulling groups out for short, directed teaching sessions.

    Having observed the class before I started, I saw that the children were not completing the activities correctly and were often not gaining anything from the (well-planned) activities. After taking over, I continued this system for a week and I found the same thing was happening with my CP activities, regardless of how many times I explained how to use the areas. The noise level in such a small classroom can also get overwhelming for the groups who are working with adults.

    I understand the concept and benefits of play based learning, but I feel like this is more suited to a large foundation room, where the adult:child ratio is greater, where there is a decent outdoor space and where there are more resources available. Then, there is more adult supervision and surreptitious activity guidance while the focus groups are going on, the noise is less of an issue and there are more activities to spread the children over.

    So, I changed the system and started using a more formal method of whole class input followed by the whole class going to their tables to complete an activity (obv differentiated at this point so they can complete it relatively independently). At this stage, my TA is asked to work with a specific group (rotates between ability groups, not sat with LA continuously) while I monitor the class and intervene with individuals who need assistance or correction. This way, they are learning the curriculum and they are learning the independent working skills they will most definitely need when they hit the SATs pressure of year 2.

    However,I have started to hear rumblings of discontent about the changes I've made.

    Wondering what other year 1 teachers think about CP vs. whole class teaching?
  2. grumbleweed

    grumbleweed Lead commenter

    In year one I think there is room for both. I would not let go of CP completely because this us where children really embed the learning from the more directed activities. Personally I would have CP at least until year two and even beyond. Trouble is it is often seen by many as a 'softer' option, or 'just playing' and therfore has little value. In fact the reverse is true. Scaffolding and supporting children's learning at their level and in their choice of activity is a very skilled role. I remember being so angry when i left my last school, when the head said to me 'well I always thought playing with children was a waste of an adult'. Arggh, yes it was why I left.
    Of course you are also right that this is more difficult to achieve with one adult and 30 children. But if you have a TA you are likely to be working to the same ratio as many reception classes.
    Could you explore a little why your children aren't managing the CP? What were transitions like from reception and what did they do there? Is it about lack or or inappropriate resources? Is it about actually deployment of staff? I never ever had all the adults working with a focus group at the same time.
    I think it's a real shame if you abandon CP completely especially as some of your children will not yet be 6. The fact that they have to do x y z in year two is irrelevant. They can do that in year two. What they need now is what they need in year one not what they are going to need in another year's time.
    Good luck, let us know how it develops.
  3. ElizaMorrell

    ElizaMorrell Occasional commenter

    Sorry, I should have added a bit extra onto my original post.

    I'm not getting rid of cp altogether, I very much appreciate the benefit- I've done a lot of research since it's been bugging me so much! I still have a section in the afternoon for them to access cp while I interact and direct them and my ta does interventions.

    The only change I've made is just to formal teaching in the mornings, for maths and English, and if they finish their work to a decent standard, they are allowed to use the cp.

    I think the reason they don't access it properly is because if you're 5 and you know the adults are occupied with groups, you're quite likely to just do as you like. I am training them to enjoy the process of learning and to be proud of what they achieve. There was generally a negative attitude to learning in the class when I took over.
    alexanderosman likes this.
  4. grumbleweed

    grumbleweed Lead commenter

    Aha I see what you're saying and probably quite a lot of schools work broadly in that way. I think the key in your last sentence is what I was trying to say earlier, that CP needs an adult at least to begin with, and therefore it's better if the adults aren't doing other stuff all the time. I would also be a little concerned that only when they finish their ' work' do they get to access the CP in the morning. This means that the very children who may need it most won't get it. It is really an indicator that it's somehow less important because it's a reward, a reward that some children probably won't ever get. Whereas high quality planned CP should in my opinion be available and accessible to children supported by an adult and valued in it's own right. You have chosen to make that part of the afternoons so I'd perhaps be thinking about how much time they get to really engage with an idea.
    But I also understand completely that it's your class and you have to do what you believe is right for them.
    It's a tricky one isn't it? Do you have any schools nearby that have good quality play based approach you could visit.
    Plus Anna ephgrave video clips on YouTube. Pretty sure some of them cover year one.

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