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The best-laid plans aren't plans at all

Lesson-planning is a skill required of all teachers. Yet of the many lesson plans I saw in my career as both headteacher and local authority adviser, very few were effective in advancing pupils' learning. Indeed, the best plans were often the shortest: just outlining the intended outcomes and sketchy routes towards these. Successful lessons are ones where the teacher reacts to the pupils' responses, guiding them carefully in the direction of desired outcomes.

The emphasis on bespoke planning in recent times has led to an almost universal abandoning of textbook use. At a recent conference about maths teaching in Singapore, I learned how textbooks can be used effectively to support all teachers and learners equally. So maybe we need to look again at how textbooks can help, not least in saving teachers many hours of lesson planning, which often don't deliver good learning for pupils.

Frederick Sandall

Retired headteacher and local authority adviser

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