Notes of guidance for planning, delivering and managing learning and teaching for NQTs – From Andrew Whitehouse in association with St Andrew’s Primary School, Bishop Auckland

The following article is based on some of my observations in schools and colleges.  Please feel free to share.






Entry to school:


Try to avoid giving the same instructions multiple times to children on arrival.  Doing this can cause confusion, create time slippage and look disorganised.  Ways to avoid this:

  • Make sure that children are aware of routines and expectations well in advance

  • Allow for quiet entry into the classroom, wait until the children are seated before delivering instructions

  • Have monitors assisting the taking in of books, letters, lunch orders etc.

Have interesting, non-challenging short activities available on arrival.  For example:

  • Kinaesthetic maths activities

  • Quizzes

  • Puzzles

  • Mindbenders


Monitors and the classroom community 

All children benefit from a community feel in the classroom in order to encourage a cooperative approach to their environment.  If something falls on the floor, you want them to want to pick it up.  All children should take a pride in their classroom.  Give them all a job!

Every child needs a role and a responsibility that they can be proud of.  Who is going to make sure that everybody has a sharp pencil?  Who is going to hand out the books?  Who is going to water the plants?  All adults in the class need a personal assistant (PA).  Does the site manager have a reward for the tidiest classroom?


Give clear instructions and use visuals wherever possible

Many children are less predisposed towards listening to verbal instruction, much preferring visual.  In PDA, Autism, Asperger Syndrome and other ASDs this becomes even more of an issue.  For example: “I could sometimes hear a few words at the beginning, but the rest became a blur”, “Of the twenty words you just said, I heard the first three”

Many teachers use too many verbal instructions.  Try to avoid this by using more visual instructions such as:

  • Visual Timetables Visual timetables are an essential intervention in every class. Experience has taught me that they are an extremely useful behavioural tool.  The visual timetable should always be in an obvious position in the classroom and big enough to be seen from anywhere in that room.

  • Visual timetables to be kept up to date and accurate. Visual timetables should usually be put up by the most vulnerable and in need of routine/preparation child/children

  • Visual timetables should always be vertical, reading from top to bottom.

  • Many children with SEN have difficulties with peripheral vision so vertical is always best.

  • The timetable should look like a list, not a sentence.

Remember; visual timetables don’t need to be about a daily structure, they can be about anything.

  • Now and next boards

  • Timetables within lessons (I.e the breaking down of sections within sessions – possibly supported by digital timers

  • Facility within the dojo system to reward individual targets

  • A spaced out, controlled, differentiated system of awarding dojo points

Gross and fine motor hyperactivity

Many children present with gross and fine motor hyperactivity.  You need to observe and be aware of this.  This hyperactivity comes in various forms.

  • Distractibility and short attention spans in lessons and learning

  • Fine motor hyperactivity – , picking, taking things apart

  • Lack of engagement in lessons and attention deficit

  • Lack of academic progress

  • Getting up and wandering about

Some possible interventions include:

  • Access to a weighted blanket/collar/pet (for some children)

  • Contextualised and interest-based learning wherever possible

  • Fiddle toys/blue tack/fidgeties

  • Regular learning breaks

  • Avoiding prolonged activities – plenty of ten-minute activities

  • Vary tasks. For example, don’t have handwriting straight after quiet reading

  • Varied tasks include group work (mixed and ability), teacher led, group discussions, group presentations. You do not always have to teach from the front

  • Use outdoor learning

Children who call out:

Many children are attention needers and often we may need to address the fact that this attention need often manifests itself in seeking the wrong kind of attention.  Many of these children have the need to crave attention.  A saying that often comes up is “that child knows which buttons to press”.

Children will often misbehave to get the attention of the other children or other adults in the class and then look around to see who saw them calling out impulsively and inappropriately etc.  For example, some children will interrupt the teacher and ask irrelevant questions.  This situation can seem unremitting and can be difficult to manage.

  • Bearing in mind that we want to promote children seeking the right kind of attention, we need to get better at ignoring the negative attention seeking and praising the positive, children will then begin to learn that the negative behaviours will not get them the attention they need.

  • Be aware of when to intervene and when not to.

  • Let’s give them a job or role (see above) and get some of that energy used positively.

  • Create opportunities to give children the right kind of attention.

  • Regarding calling out, one particularly effective strategy is to give a reward for being the second person to answer a question (the reward will also help with the need for attention).

  • Be aware of attention spans. Activities ideally should be approximately ten minutes long


Good resourcing is good provision and a learning style multi-modal approach is always best.  We all know about:

  • Visual

  • Auditory

  • Kinaesthetic

But how about a few others:

  • Tactile

  • Research

  • Verbal

  • Creative

  • Leading

  • Demonstrative

  • Athletic

  • Ict

  • + numerous others

It is the teacher’s role to find out how to motivate a child and implement good strategies that are well resourced.  Some good ideas include:

  • Use of ICT. This includes laptops (sometimes shared), the interactive whiteboard, tablets and iPads

  • Keep resources at a high standard. For example, photocopying needs to be clear and readable.

  • Be creative: bottle top, buttons, conkers etc. The children will help willingly

  • Spoken description needs visual back up – for example, if you are talking about frogs – show a picture of a frog.

  • Be ready: make sure all your resources are out ready for the lesson – maybe list them in your lesson plan

  • Make sure that anything you write on the board is visible to the whole class – size, font.

  • Remember to use tactile resources with maths. Maths teaching has four golden rules: keep everything in context, colour code as much as you can, use concrete resources and remember that some children will struggle with concepts

  • if you need to use a certain type or genre of book, investigation is best. Take the children to the library in small groups and let them choose with guidance

Which leads us into…


Make it your mission to find out needs and abilities – right at the beginning.

  • Look at last year’s books/work

  • Do effective baseline assessments

  • Ask colleagues

  • Do observations

The classroom environment:

The classroom environment needs to be the first thing you sort out before taking on a new class.  It needs to be welcoming, resourced and stimulating.  Things to consider essential are:

  • Stimulus displays

  • Reference displays

  • Well stocked resource cupboards

  • Clear surfaces

  • Bespoke areas, i.e.: computer area, time out, reading zones, maths zones etc.

  • Are posters relevant?

  • Are there unnecessary items on display?

  • Visual timetable in place

Keep seating flexible – children should be able to move to more appropriate seating for different activities.

I hope all of the above information helps, please do let me know how you get on.

Stay in touch


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