The importance of planning in teaching – 3

This is the final post of a three part series on the importance of lesson planning written by Adhyayan Associate, William Power. You can read the first two posts, here and here.

Will is currently an Assistant Headteacher with responsibility for Teaching and Learning at Coppermill Primary School, East London. He is an Associate at Adhyayan and worked with Spokey Wheeler and Kavita Anand developing a low-cost high quality schools model in Jharkhand. He has also worked for the European Commission in Delhi and studied Sanskrit as an undergraduate. His areas of interest include: oral storytelling, outdoor learning, primary science, talk for writing and phonics.

Another approach

Some schools take a thematic or text-based approach to literacy. In the below example, instead of a unit focusing teaching a narrowly defined set of skills with a specific outcome, a key text is used as the starting point with several outcomes.

Example 2: 

Key text: Rama and the Demon King (a retelling of Valmiki’s Ramayana)

The advantage of this approach is that it can be more engaging; with shorter focuses on different genres. The chosen text can also be linked to other curriculum areas – in this case Religious Education to coincide with a study of Hinduism and Diwali.

More general skills can be taught and applied in a wider variety of contexts. For example, the following skills are taught under a general aim to develop children’s ability to write descriptively in a range of contexts:

Year 2 (Indian Standard 1) lesson objectives

  • To use noun phrases
  • To use 2A sentences (adjective, adjective, noun)
  • To use ‘show don’t tell’
  • To punctuate speech correctly


  1. To write a monologue from the perspective of Rama;
  2. To write a ‘report card’ from Ravana’s school teacher;
  3. To write a set of instructions about what to take and how to survive in the forest;
  4. To write a secret letter from Sita telling Ram how to sneak onto Lanka.

Some sample materials from this unit of work:




As a teacher I have used both approaches and tend to find the former – a skills-based, step by step approach works well when teaching more complex text forms (such as newspaper articles). Encouraging creativity, imagination and embedding more general skills can be easier when adopting a theme or text based approach.

Try both and see what works best for you.

In summary

Whatever approach you adopt the key thing to remember is that it must have a rationale. There must be a reason you are teaching what you are teaching and this should make sense and be coherent. Being clear about learning outcomes over the short, medium and long term will ensure that this is the case, and will allow you to see the bigger picture or smallest detail when needed.

Crucially, good planning will also make clear links to subsequent and prior learning and will help you to prepare children for the next stage in their journey through education.

If you are a school leader, ask yourself: as a school do we have a clear framework for planning that helps teachers map out realistic learning goals? Does this support teachers? Does this have an impact on children’s progress and attainment? If the answers to any of these questions is no, then perhaps you need to have a rethink of your planning systems and processes. If you are a teacher think how engaged you are in the planning process, over the short, medium and longer terms. Perhaps you need to get more involved.

We wouldn’t expect children to write a story without planning it first. Teaching is just as complex, if not more so. So let’s take planning seriously!

The next blog in this series will examine how the planning process links to assessment and how to make the most of children’s prior knowledge and skills. In the meantime, please upload any material that you think others may find useful, in particular examples of good practice in planning. Please also feel free to comment on any of the points raised in this blog. Thank you.