Planning for Continuous Provision can be very time consuming and what gets written on paper often doesn't translate into actual practice. I have been working with a number of schools and settings looking at how they can make their Continuous Provision planning less of a chore and more effective so, I thought I would share what we have been doing in the hope that it might be helpful.
I would always start with the question 'What is Continuous Provision?' It is not just provision that is continually accessible. It is a selection of resources that have been placed in areas by practitioners that continue the provision for learning in the absence of an adult.
Differentiated prompt cards for children to support their attainment in Continuous Provision – Bidston Primary School
Your Continuous Provision must be linked to assessment and levelled around the ability of your children in that area. You would then enhance it with open ended resources that will encourage investigation, exploration and thinking as well as resources linked to children's interests that will encourage engagement.
There should be challenge in all of your areas of Continuous Provision. This will either be implicit challenge that will come from the fact that you have linked your resources to assessment and levelled them, or explicit challenge where children will have a direct request to complete a specific challenge within an area alongside their free play.
Explicit challenge in the form of a 'Challenge Book' – The Friars Primary School
Issue that often arises when we do our Continuous Provision planning is that children don't actually do what we write on the plan.
The key question to ask yourself when you are planning is 'will they do this when I am not there?' If the answer is 'no' or 'probably not', then you need to think again.
For example, lots of settings will put specific capacity objectives into their sand or water play Continuous Provision planning:
'Children will fill containers to the given mark and compare'
Will they?..Really?..Or will they just stand and pour?
Often mark making will make it's way into sand tray Continuous Provision planning:
'Children will attempt to write the first letter of their name and then practise hand writing patterns using tools provided'
Hmmm, probably not!
Pictures under porridge oats - Haygarth Primary. Great for motor dexterity and talk
These statements are not Continuous Provision plans, they are adult focuses within an area of Continuous Provision. The focus you might want an adult to have when they visit children in play IF they feel that the play they are observing would benefit from support, challenge or enhancement.
There will also be times when specific areas of Continuous Provision have been enhanced with a skill that you are focusing on or that contain an explicit challenge for the children to complete.
You might have enhanced your Creative area with a skills focus on printing
or used your Malleable materials ares to facilitate a focus on reading.
All of this information needs to be on your Continuous Provision plans without them taking 24 hours to write and reading like War and Peace! So, what could they look like?
The first method of weekly planning that I use for Continuous Provision is the 'what', 'why' format. This is a simple overview of your Continuous Provision that would still need a bit of explanation if someone was using it to track attainment through Continuous Provision.
This is a really simple grid where you list all of the areas of provision that you have created. Each area gets its own box.
In the box under 'what' you would list what you had enhanced that area with this week
Under 'why' you would say why you have added that enhancement (assessment,skill, interest etc)
I always then do a very brief levelling of any enhancement that I had added to show differentiation.
I also indicate any areas where I have added specific challenge. This is an example of a teacher's planning using this format.
The 'what' has been driven by assessment, the 'why' is a prompt for adults. Obviously, there is no guarantee that just because you put it there the children will access it in the away that you want them to, but if all adults are aware of what is there and why, it can help them to facilitate effective challenge and support.
The second method of CP planning has a little more detail to it. Mine looks like this.
On this sheet the column 'AREA' is not the area of learning, but the area of your space. This is because you will often use an area of provision as a facilitator for another area of learning. So, you might be looking at 'Shape, Space and Measure' but in your construction area.
Under the 'OBJECTIVE' column you are going to identify
- Area Of Learning
- Objectives that your Continuous Provision in that area has been planned to support
- Focus for the adult IF required to enhance play.
In the 'ENHANCEMENT' column you will list any specific resources that you have added, any differentiation and any explicit challenges.
The next step in the process is to share this information with the adults who will be working in your space. The most obvious way to do that is to give them a copy of the planning – but with the best will in the world, that is a great deal of information to store in your head along with everything else that you have to think about!
Lots of settings create adult 'prompt' cards that differentiate any particular skill focus that they have chosen to enhance an area of Continuous Provision with.
There are many and various ways of doing this. It is really a question of what suits your team best. I have seen some settings use the 'WALT' and 'WILF' format for prompt cards for children. What I don't see very often (at all) are children in EYFS using 'WALT' and 'WILF' to plan and evaluate their play and learning.
If you are going to use prompt cards, then remember to audit their impact through observation. You don't want to spend your life creating laminated cards that no one reads!
Here are a few ideas of activities that worked effectively as part of Continuous Provision that I have seen in action recently.
Stabbing a fruit box with paintbrush handles – Church Drive Primary – Great for shoulder and elbow pivot development as well as sound and rhythm.
Make your own milk shake in self service snack - Liscard Primary
Find the objects in the rice by moving and shaking the bottle, then record – Croft Primary School
Create and add your own tubes to explore trajectory, cause and effect, gravity…St Peters RC Noctorum
Give your friend a moustache and glasses! – The Friars Primary School
Fence weaving with natural materials – Devonshire Road Primary
Of course, any other great ideas that you have got around planning or activities for Continuous Provision then please feel free to share!
Have a great week.