Floor books in primary education

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Floor books in primary education

If you have been to a conference or course where I’ve been speaking, you may have heard me referring to “The Peoples’ Independent Republic of Early Years”, hopefully before you nodded off or sneaked out early to deal with an ‘emergency’ back at school. It’s a phrase I coined a few years ago, as I began working as a consultant and gained an overview of a number of different settings.

The phrase “Peoples’ Independent Republic of Early Years” became how I described the EYFS in a few schools where they seem to operate in isolation from the rest of the setting. Sometimes this situation is exacerbated by geography when the Early Years building is situated across the playground from the main building, or in one instance of a school I worked with, the Early Years classrooms were down the road as part of a split site. It can also be seen in some settings where EYFS colleagues have their own little staff room or office, seldom mingling with their KS1 or KS2 cousins.

It can be evidenced on training as well. A few times I have had colleagues approach me after generic staff training in schools and thank me for mentioning Early Years. Just the mention of Early Years during my ramblings has been significant enough to warrant praise in their view. If I’ve ever gone beyond this and ventured into offering some advice, idea or resources they’ve been in raptures of delight. Us! He actual spoke about us!

A few years ago a geography coordinator who was also an upper KS2 teacher actually said to me, “But they don’t do geography in Early Years do they?”

The point I am trying to make, is that there can be a division between EYFS and the other key stages in a setting. Perhaps the dissemination of best practice that can be highly effective between year groups and KS1 and KS1 throughout the rest of the school, is not always as well developed between EYFS and the rest of the school, with a lack of flow in both directions.

Take floor books.

Great big collections of the class’s work produced through discussion, editing and the process of children’s research and learning. I’ve just done a quick search online for floor books and nearly every site or forum links floor books with EYFS. And there are some great discussions going on. My quick scan of the forums found the following sorts of questions being posed and debated:

  • How do you create a class floor book, with 90 children in the nursery setting over the course of a day?
  • What do you do when children just copy the response of the child next to them, when you are working with a group and asking for contributions?
  • How do you ensure all children contribute effectively?
  • How can you balance floor book work and work that goes into individual learning journals?

However, my question is this: Why do floor books have to remain predominantly in the realm of Early Years? I have seen some brilliant use of floor books in KS1 and KS2, stimulating discussion and recording the process of experimentation in science; collating the classes’ research into the effect of WWII for their locality and comparing and contrasting major world faiths.

So if floor books are being used in your EYFS classes, spread the word.

If you are a KS1 or KS2 teacher why not get the relevant visa and inoculations sorted out and venture into the P.I.R.E.Y.? Have a look at what is going on and consider the impact that working with floor books could have for your older children’s learning. If you are an EYFS practitioner who uses floor books, then why not do some missionary work? Go beyond the boundaries of your empire and spread the word. And take a great big floor book with you.

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For more information on floor books in education or if you have any queries, keep an eye on the Focus Education blog, find me on Twitter @Focustn or get in touch with the Focus Education office on 01457 821 818. If you would like to enquire about consultancy in your school, contact us via our booking form. 

Tim Nelson

Tim has been a headteacher with a successful track record; his last school had a reputation for innovation and their initiatives have been utilised by others and presented internationally.
School improvement has been at the heart of his career, working as an LLE, a School Improvement Partner, Professional Partner as well as an Ofsted inspector and mentor for trainee inspectors.

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