Planning for the New Year


Hello and welcome to the Early Years Blog,

As the winter holidays approach schools will be thinking about planning for the New Year.  The Early Years Foundation Stage is non-prescriptive in terms of how this planning is carried out, so settings are free to develop their own methods.  However, planning must be effective and completed planning documents will be scrutinised during Ofsted inspections.

This means that planning processes and planning documents may differ greatly from setting to setting.  It also means that early years students can’t be taught one definitive way to create plans, or one way to understand and follow them.  Perhaps understandably, this can cause practitioners a little anxiety.  However, all good Early Years Foundation Stage planning documents will contain some common, familiar information; including what activities will take place when, what resources are needed, how staff will be deployed, what the learning objectives are and how individual children will be supported.

The planning cycle

Early Years Foundation Stage settings will also complete their planning within a common planning cycle.  The planning cycle has three parts:

  1. Planning for children’s learning and development
  2. Implementing opportunities for children’s learning and development
  3. Reviewing and evaluating children’s learning and development

The process of reviewing and evaluating informs the next planning session, and so the cycle begins again.  Many practitioners call this the “plan, do, review cycle,” as it’s easy to remember.

Planning for children’s learning and development

Planning for children’s learning and development (part one of the cycle) is a very big task, so settings break this down into manageable chunks.  This is frequently done by creating separate long term plans, medium term plans and short term plans.

Long term plans often take a broad look at learning across the whole year, identifying themes for particular blocks of times, and identifying calendar events the setting may want to incorporate on specific dates (such as festivals, the Olympics or World Book Day).  Medium term planning often focuses on identifying the play and learning activities to be provided during each of the blocks of time; this type of planning will often be done each term or half term.  Finally, short term plans often specify when and how each of the activities will take place.  They’re generally presented in a user-friendly weekly (and perhaps also daily) timetable format, which staff members will refer to both before and during sessions.

To help with the planning process, we’ll be providing some free planning factsheets for you over the coming weeks.  You can download the Long Term Planning Factsheet now.  You can also read more about planning in my book A Practical Guide to the Early Years Foundation Stage.  In addition, the book features many activity suggestions for every age group, fully linked to the early learning goals. These can be slotted right into your own curriculum plans.

Until next month,