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There is no prescribed format or length. For example, all that is specified in the Ofsted framework is that 'teachers plan effectively, using clear objectives that children understand'.
Cutting unnecessary work in planning
Your plans are for you and other professionals working with you. Occasionally, others will need to see your planning. When Ofsted inspectors arrive, they will look for clear objectives that show your intentions for what children will learn and how these objectives will be achieved. Inspectors will not expect to find a particular model or format for planning; they will be much more interested in the impact of planning on your teaching and the children’s learning.
Planning with colleagues
You do not need to work alone when you are doing your planning. Work with other colleagues, draw on their specialist knowledge and involve teaching assistants where possible. Share out the planning between you if this is practicable. It will save time and stimulate discussions.
Using existing lesson plans
You do not need to start from scratch with a blank sheet of paper. Good quality plans are already available, such as National Numeracy Strategy Unit Plans and National Literacy Strategy medium term plans and planning exemplification, plans written by colleagues and plans on the internet.
For medium-term planning, the Qualifications and Curriculum Authority (QCA) schemes of work contain the detail you need for each subject. It is not necessary to write things out again; QCA schemes, for example, can easily be converted into lesson plans if accompanied by post-its, notes and annotations to add detail of your own. Planning in this way will meet with Ofsted’s approval providing it has a positive impact on learning and teaching.
Putting you plans in context
As you write your plans, think about what you are going to assess. Be selective, focus on the key aspects of learning that you wish to assess, and highlight these on your plan, then use a simple system for recording pupil’s progress. Link curricular targets to your plans for groups of pupils and some individuals.
A few tips to save time
Drama lessons are time-saving as well as fun
Try putting pupils into groups of four to discuss a topic you are studying in history, geography or RE. For example, if studying Kenya, two children could be Kenyans describing their school and the other two describe their school in the UK. They discuss the merits of each, and each group presents their dialogue to the class.
This needs no preparation, makes pupils think, practise speaking and listening, gives the attention-seekers an opportunity to be in the limelight and there is no marking.
The above advice was provided for ATL by teaching specialist Hazel Bennett, author of The ultimate teachers' handbook. Hazel can be emailed at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Knowing where to turn for help and advice before you start your student placement and first teaching job will assist you to thrive, not just survive. This handy booklet - new for 2013 - not only includes tips on things like finding your first teaching job, settling in during the first few weeks, parents' evenings and writing reports, but also answers commonly asked questions and explains how ATL can help and support you. This edition replaces two previous ATL publications, Into the Classroom and Ready, steady, teach!, which were specifically for student teachers and newly qualified teachers respectively.