I finished reading ‘Effective transition into Year One’ by Alistair Bryce-Clegg last summer. Since then I’ve had had a full year of running provision in Year One, so now I feel like I’m in a place to review this book and tell you my thoughts!
First off, I need to confess that I’m a huge fan of Alistair’s; it’s not often that you come across someone who is so knowledgeable in education yet so in touch with teachers in the classroom. I love following Alistair’s blog (abcdoes.com), he is all about child-led learning. His posts about promoting learning in the Early Years are truly inspiring and you only have to read a few posts to realise that he knows his stuff pretty damn well. I trained in KS1/2 but spent my NQT year in Early Years and I can hand on heart say that I wouldn’t have made it through without the guidance of his wonderful blog posts! Alistair also has experience of teaching in Year One, so as you can imagine I was really interested to read his thoughts about transition!
Within the first few pages, I was so happy to see that the constraints of the National Curriculum and assessments are acknowledged. It’s not often that these issues are recognised but they are the barriers most Year One teachers find themselves up against!
A point stressed heavily in this book is that you absolutely need to be familiar with the Early Years way of working; as this is what your children have been accessing all year so far. Having trained as a Key Stage 1/2 teacher, I completely get the struggle to wrap your head around play based learning. I’ve been there. It appears to be a completely foreign concept! But this book is very clear and concise and provides plenty of examples to cut through any confusion you may feel about the approach.
‘Effective transition into Year 1’ is great at breaking down the professional knowledge behind the Early Years style of learning. It clearly explains the types of learning that can occur in well planned provision; giving you an insight into the ‘why’. Learning that takes place in different areas of provision and how to deepen that learning are given to you in the form of clear examples, which definitely build your confidence in understanding the approach. This book will also help you to master the language associated e.g. adult initiated activities, child-led activities, enhanced provision etc. Having said all of that, if you are Early Years trained there are still lots of useful insights into how to adapt provision and ensure there is enough challenge in Year One.
The truth of the matter is that we all work in differing settings, with differing cohorts of children, differing SLT’s and differing opinions. So as with all areas of education there isn’t a ‘one size fits all’ option that we can just cut and paste into our settings. But this book gives you a really clear foundation of knowledge and will equip you with the tools to build your own way. My word of advice to seasoned Key Stage 1 teachers is to not let the difference in planning and assessment overwhelm you! I’ll be honest last summer when I first finished reading the book my thoughts all came back to, ‘how do I fit it all in alongside my current approach?’ But what I’ve learned over the last year is that this isn’t an approach to ‘fit in’. It’s not some gimmick that will fill the gaps in your children’s learning. It’s a whole entire approach that you move towards. Therefore, you need to analyse the content of this book with the mindset of taking small steps and whilst keeping your eye on the end goal!
So, to conclude it’s a great book to help you get your head around the skills your children can learn from provision. It will definitely give you a clear insight as to why the play-based approach is effective. Upon reading it you will become confident in understanding the terminology behind play-based learning; giving you a wealth of knowledge to show off in the next staff meeting! Plus, you will have the understanding to design your own provision effectively.
In my opinion it’s a good read to inspire you and fuel your passion for provision in Year One. If you’re struggling to get the play-based approach off the ground, this book will arm you with ideas, knowledge and questions to dazzle your SLT! Wherever you are in your journey of implementing continuous provision in Year One, this book has something to offer. At the very least it will leave you feeling much more self-assured about what you’re doing with your provision!
Has that convinced you to give the book a try? If so there’s an affiliate link to buy the book below!
Have you read ‘Effective transition into Year One’? What was your opinion? Or what do you recommend reading next? Leave a comment below!