For our 50th blog post, we are very proud to have Mr R Davies (@davies_mr_r) write a guest post on his now area of expertise: teaching and learning year 2 & 3 in a small primary school.
Trials and Tribulations of a Cross-Phase Class
It was around this time two years ago when I started thinking about my class for the next year. Numbers on roll in each year group were running through my head. That year we had had a nursery class, a reception class, a year 1/2 class, a year 3/4 class (my class), a year 4/5 class and a year 5/6 class. Numbers at the younger end of the school were high, we had two full year groups coming through, but numbers at the older end of the school were lower. It dawned on me that I may have a year 2/3 class…CROSS PHASE. Oh.
A couple of weeks later I was called the the Headteacher’s office and given the news. Year 2/3. What am I going to do? What is the Foundation Phase? Continuous provision. Continuous what now? I knew a bit about the Foundation Phase from university but not as much as I should have done.
At the time I was the teacher governor in school so I was at the full governors’ meeting when the class arrangements for the following year were discussed. Needless to say, some governors were not convinced. They asked for additional meetings with the head and myself to discuss how we would go about it. Once they had sat down with us and listened to our plans they were quite supportive.
Governors convinced, now just to convince myself that I was up to the task of almost completely changing my way of teaching. Fortunately for me, our deputy (and Foundation Phase Leader) is fantastic. I lost count of the amount of meetings I had with her and the amount of times I pestered her about this and that. I was beginning to understand.
Plenty of reading was done, plenty of friends were pestered but before the end of the summer term I was almost ready for the mix of Foundation Phase and Key Stage 2. Now for the planning…
Planning. Foundation Phase Framework. National Curriculum for Key Stage 2. Which document do I plan from? Both. Oh fantastic. Two sets of skills, two sets of outcomes/levels. This should be fun.
Is there a difference between the skills in the two documents? Yes.
Is there a difference between the outcomes/levels in the two documents. Yes but not much.
Right, head screwed on. Planning is being done from two documents, which isn’t too confusing but is very time consuming. Flicking back from one to the other to see which skills match and where do the outcomes fit the levels. As if we don’t have enough to do as teachers but now I am working from two documents, soon to be three with the new Literacy and Numeracy Framework in Wales. I know both documents pretty well now, I sometimes dream about them.
On the actual teaching side of things, I was looking forward to getting started. A completely new class, a new way of teaching and continuous provision. Continuous provision was the biggest obstacle for me. What is it? What are all these areas? Are they not just going to be playing? Again, the deputy head and her teaching assistant to the rescue. Both helped me out massively by spending time in my class with me moving furniture, gathering resources, setting up challenge cards, the whole lot. I can’t thank them enough.
Continuous provision is up and running. What’s that? They need to be updated every week? I never had to do anything like that in key stage 2. Right, better crack on with updating the areas.
The autumn term was flying by and almost done, it is now assessment time. No problem, I have done loads of assessments so this should be pretty easy, well, not easy but in comparison to some other things. Oh hang on, I have to assess from two documents. We assess the core subjects on a termly basis so I was quite used to assessing English, Maths, Science and Welsh. Personal and Social Development? Ah, another core subject for me.
All in all, assessing the children wasn’t as bad as I had been expecting. The Foundation Phase Framework and National Curriculum are quite similar but worded slightly differently so most of the time outcome 5 matches up to level 2 and outcome 6 to level 3. A few differences here and there but nothing to lose much sleep over.
Overall, I have to say that I have enjoyed having a cross-phase class far more than I was expecting. Having year 2 and changing my teaching style, much easier and much more fun than I was expecting. While I have had plenty of positives to take from the past two years, there are plenty of worries lying ahead for all of us in education. I love the time I am in the classroom doing what I do, I do not love the almost endless paperwork, the extra hours put in during the evening and on the weekend.