Loathe lengthy planning? We can help!

Planning is a hot topic nowadays. How much? How little? What is effective and what is simply paperwork? A recent Government report highlighted the issue of teacher workload and mentioned planning as an area for serious review. Here, Caroline Pudner, Curriculum Consultant at Cornerstones, shares her perspective.

Wasting time?

As a teacher, I spent many hours planning. Some of this was useful and directly influenced how my lessons went, while the rest was a waste of time. What really riled me was when a plan took three times longer to write than the duration of the lesson itself! I found brief notes, prompts and key questions much more usable. They informed my teaching and could be used directly on my whiteboard to help guide the children (and me!) through the lesson.


Understandably, teachers and senior leaders are concerned that there is enough evidence of teaching and learning in school. Detailed lesson plans are sometimes used to ‘prove’ this however, I believe planning is a tool to achieve learning progress, not ‘proof’ that it has happened.

In fact, the Government report suggests that planning collaboratively with skilled teachers is a much more effective use of time. Focus should be on planning a brief, coherent sequence of lessons – a meaningful ‘scheme of work’.

The other benefit of planning with colleagues, is that you can draw upon evidence of what actually works in the classroom. What are the next steps or learning gaps for your children? How have other teachers addressed these? How can you provide intervention for certain children? This, in my opinion, is what informs great planning.

There is always room for a detailed lesson plan, such as in an observation or for training. However, even Ofsted does not require this:

“Ofsted does not require schools to provide individual lesson plans to inspectors.”

School Inspection Handbook (2015)

What next?

Recently, I put together a range of planning templates for teachers using the Cornerstones Curriculum to use – you can find them on the Cornerstones Hub.

Depending on the expectations in your school, write as little or as much as you wish in these templates – or copy and paste from our Imaginative Learning Projects (ILPs). I’m a great believer in scribbling notes on plans, during or after the lesson when it’s fresh in your mind.

Whatever you and your school decide, planning remains a hot topic within the wider context of teachers’ workload. I only wish I’d had the Cornerstones ILPs and resources when I was teaching, as it would have saved me hours of time.


How Cornerstones can help

Our ILPs provide a ready-made scheme of work/sequence of lessons linked to the Programmes of Study with just the right amount of detail. You can shape them to suit your needs, adding or omitting activities. Use the Coverage Checker tool on The Hub to check coverage over the year, to help you cover any gaps.

Each ILP is accompanied by bespoke resources, including videos, picture cards, texts and presentations. This saves teachers hours of time ‘trawling the internet’ – leaving more time for collaborative planning!

We have a range of planning templates for you to choose from, covering long term, medium and short term lesson plans. They are editable for you to copy and paste into, adding or removing detail to suit your needs.

Log in to The Hub now to see for yourself.

Get in touch

If you'd like to know more about the Cornerstones Curriculum and how it could save you hours of time, call us for a free in school demo, with no obligation. Contact us now on 03333 20 8000.

Published by

Melanie Moore

Mel is Curriculum Director and the author of the Cornerstones Curriculum. She writes, edits and oversees all curriculum materials and leads our creative team. Mel has over 20 years of primary teaching experience, including as a deputy headteacher. She has also been a teacher adviser and a local authority strategy adviser.

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