Lesson Planning CPD: The Life Of A Deputy Headteacher

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How can we enable curriculum plans to feed into day-to-day lesson planning, without it becoming a burden on the teacher?

Research says:

CPD research evidence states that access to collegial support is essential. 

“… the need to plan will never go away … but how we do it, is critical.”

This week, in paired departments for collaboration, we are reviewing ‘planning’ as part of the Learning Policy implementation. Each head of department was paired and provided with the following presentation to facilitate planning as a whole; from curriculum to schemes of work, right into the teacher planner.

This post is offered as a resource to you – for schools and teachers – to help build their own CPD session to lead with departments (in pairs) to encourage collegial support.

I would like to offer credit to the following educators for their influence in this blog and teacher-led CPD.

  • David Weston – @Informed_Edu – for teacher Development Trust research, quoted at the beginning of this blog.
  • Peps Mccrea – @pepsmccrea – and his book for influencing our thoughts on lesson planning.
  • Shaun Allison – @Shaun_Allison – for his blog and sequence of strategies, Planning to be Great.
  • Jason Ramasami – @JasonRamasami – for his fabulous cartoons offered in Allison’s blogposts. His website is here.


The aims of the CPD session were to:

  1. to review progress against the (plan section of the) Learning Policy.
  2. to think-pair-share and review how curriculum feeds into schemes of work/lesson planning.
  3. to pair up and review each other’s teacher planners.

shutterstock_332856020 an elephant calm in a restaurant interior. photo combination concept

Image: Shutterstock


The Learning Policy defines the consistencies which make everyone’s job easier. Particular aspects, e.g. the ‘so why?’ test needs to become common practice.

  • Is planning the ‘elephant’ in the department?
  • Schemes of work – do they all exist?
  • How much do they vary within the department?
  • Is there a strong basis for planning?
  • Is an initial lesson structure there?

Planning Traps:

There are 3 ‘classic traps’ of lesson planning!

  1. Activity focused planning.
  2. Coverage focused planning.
  3. Over-planning!

Lesson Planning QK CPD

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1.When did you last do this?

You come across (or try to find) a ‘good’ activity and then reverse engineer the lesson objectives to match the likely outcomes of the activity. Over time this can become an exercise in keeping students busy.

2. Or, how much do we rely on others?

This begins with someone else’s learning objectives (colleague, textbook etc) rather than considering your student needs and how those objectives could be interpreted and/or changed for them. Over time, this can become an exercise in getting through the curriculum; or aiming towards an assessment.

3. How often have you done this? 

Too many activities? Too many objectives? Failure to break down the objective and then realise during the lesson you are trying to cover too much, or that you have not differentiated? Or lead a ‘starter’ that works against the intended learning? Over-planning generally leads to ‘under-learning’

Short and Long-Term Planning:

In the book ‘Lean Lesson Planning’ by Peps Mccrea, he calls it a ‘lean mindset’ – all about quality and not about quantity.

Too often, lesson planning begins with the last question, without really considering where they are and want them to get to and the wider picture is not examined. Why not consider;

  1. Where are the students starting from?
  2. Where do you want the students to get to?
  3. How will you know when they are there?
  4. How can you best help them get there?


The Stuggle Zone:

Sometimes it is essential to view planning with some form of ‘struggle’ included. This image offered by Shaun Allison explains the difference between comfort, struggle and panic zones.

Images: @Shaun_Allison and his blog: Planning to be Great

It is vital that teachers keep in mind the struggle zone, but know the difference between the scheme of work and the lesson they intend to teach. At our school, we do not want lesson plans, but evidence of planning and there is no expectation to provide lesson plans for any observation, ever! Of course, this is not to undermine the need for planning full stop; or for the new teacher to the profession – or experienced soul to a new school – who needs to use existing curriculum plans and lesson planning framework to help settle into a new way of working.

Reflection Questions:

  1. Do you writes individual lesson plans?
  2. Do you offer a lesson plan to an observer?
  3. How do you link schemes of work to your day to day teacher planner? Or lesson plan if you are still using this method?
  4. How does the scheme link to one-off lessons?
  5. How do you give clear and precise objectives?
  6. How are your planning processes different for single and double lessons?
  7. Test yourself – use the ‘so why?’ test for a one-off lesson … and question what you are doing, with a ‘why’?

Planning is not filling in a form. It is a thinking process, it is about habits of thought.”


Here is our one-page summary from our new and evolving Learning Policy. Note, we have not yet finalised the details, but it is really starting to shape pedagogy and reduce workload. You can read more about how this is evolving in these blogposts.

Learning Policy QK

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Before you download the file, please click a tweet of thanks! Download the PDF here.

teacher Planner Learning Policy Quintin Kynaston Resource

*This resource is copyright of Quintin Kynaston.

As you reduce the amount of time you spend actually teaching, you can start to observe the learning more …”  Jim Smith – @TheLazyTeacher


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