Lesson planning

Lesson planning

All teachers need to plan what they will teach and how they will teach it, but spending excessive amounts of time on long, detailed plans does not necessarily lead to better learning and teaching.

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'. 

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Your time should be used for aspects of planning that are going to be useful for their own purposes.
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Your time should be used for aspects of planning that are going to be useful for their own purposes, and which have a direct impact upon the quality of learning and teaching. Teachers should not spend time producing documentation that does not meet these two purposes. Nor should any teacher feel they have to start with a blank sheet when planning for the week ahead. As in other professions, experience can and should be shared. Collaborative planning can be liberating, supportive and effective.

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

  • Use the previous year’s plans, adding your own ideas, of course.
  • Share the burden by working with colleagues in the same year group, splitting up the work and sharing your plans and resources.
  • Plan on the computer. Some things are the same each week so if you superimpose each week’s lesson on top of  a similar week’s plan you only need to amend the details. 
  • Keep a copy of everything, in ring-binders or saved on disks or CDs. 
  • Use commercially produced worksheets where possible. www.primaryresources.co.uk and www.bbc.co.uk/skillswise provide them. 
  • Use the DfES Standards website. Just type in the national curriculum details and your email address and a lesson plan is emailed to you.
  • Interactive whiteboards have added a new dimension to teaching and learning.

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.

Useful websites