Effective Lesson Planning for Primary Schools

Planning will probably take up lots of your time – but what exactly is it and how do you approach it? Here is a guide to what you should include, how long to take and how to incorporate your plan into teaching:

What is planning?

Put simply – planning is the process of deciding what you will teach and how you will teach it. It can be long term (covering a term or year), medium term (covering a unit or half herm), weekly or daily (in which you set out in detail your plans for a lesson).

Why plan?

Planning is essential for effective teaching – lessons will generally be most effective when you have given thought to the content, learning objectives and activities.

What do you plan?

You will be expected to produce individual lesson plans for every lesson you teach.

What do you need to include?

  • The Learning Objective(s) – what do you want the children to learn from the lesson? Try to keep the learning objective small and achievable – this is not the place to state long term goals. As an example, a math’s lesson may have a primary learning object of “Children will be able to partition three digit numbers”
  • The Success Criteria – What are you looking for from the children? Try to be specific; for the example above, it could be “I can partition 478 in Hundreds, Tens and Units”
  • Assessment – How are you going to assess the lesson?
  • Resources – What resources do you need for the lesson? Write them down so you can make sure you have everything you need.
  • Session Outline – What is going to happen in the session? You should set out the activities that will help the children achieve the success criteria you have set out. In a ‘typical’ lesson this will normally include some ‘shared learning’ (i.e. teacher led learning) and either group work and/or independent learning – but plan what will work best for your lesson.
  • Additional Adults – What role are any additional adults (Teaching Assistants, Parents etc) going to have in your lesson?

How do you plan?

Planning is personal – it is not something that can be done robotically. Each person plans differently and you will develop the planning style that suits you best. When planning make sure you plan the Learning Objective first. This will help ensure that all the activities in your lesson are relevant and will help the children achieve the objectives for the lesson.

How much detail do you need to include?

You plan needs to have enough detail in it to enable YOU to teach the lesson – I know it sounds simple but you need to make sure you know what is going on in the lesson – make sure there is enough detail in the plan to allow this. You also need enough detail to enable your additional adults to support you.

How long will planning take?

Again this is down to the individual – but expect to spend considerable amounts of time planning each lesson at the start of your training (3 hours for a 1 hour lesson is certainly not unheard of!), but as you gain more experience in teaching and planning, your planning time will decrease.

How do you teach from a plan?

Try not to teach physically holding the plan – by all means have the plan out so you are able to refer to it, but nervously holding your plan in front of you when teaching can give the wrong impression to the children! You should avoid at all costs using the plan as a ‘script’ – don’t be a slave to your plan. Adapt your plan and even throw the plan out the window (although probably not literally) if needed – you need to respond to the lesson as it happens. Your plan is a guide – just because you have planned it doesn’t mean it has to happen – being able to adapt your lesson ‘on the go’ is an essential skill.








This article is excerpted from Tim Handley’s PGCE Survival Guide.