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Training: Schools and teaching

Key stages

Schools group children by age in key stages, which contain a number of year groups.

EYFS - Early Years Foundation Stage

  • Nursery - aged 3-4 (we rarely work with them)
  • Reception - ages 4-5 (we normally work with them)

KS1 - Key Stage 1 (sometimes called Infants)

  • Year 1 - ages 5-6
  • Year 2 - ages 6-7

KS2 - Key Stage 2 (sometimes called Juniors)

  • Year 3 - ages 7-8
  • Year 4 - ages 8-9
  • Year 5 - ages 9-10
  • Year 6 - ages 10-11

School Types

  • Infant School = Reception and KS1
  • Junior School = KS2
  • Primary School = Reception, KS1 and KS2
  • Many infant schools and primary schools have nursery children, but not all do.

Teaching Tips

Practical things

  • Always take DBS and photo ID (like driving license) with you. Keep a scan or photo of them on your phone so you have an emailable copy just in case you forget!
  • Arrive at the school at least 30 minutes before start time. If you are going to be late call the school, as they are expecting you 30mins before.
  • Always allow time for traffic, if need be travel before busy period and have coffee near school.
  • Once at school, double check your timetable with the school, make sure you have the correct info for which workshops to do with which year groups and what order year groups are coming in.
  • Set up equipment and hide away any bags, coats etc, so area is tidy and neat. Make sure you have easy access to your MP3 and speaker.


  • Always be prepared. Know your stuff 100% or the children will see through it and be harder to control. They feed off your energy.
  • Use vocal speed, levels and dynamics to control children and also to make it exciting.
  • Don’t tolerate bad behavior.
  • Don’t be afraid to sit a child out, but always give them warning first. Then give them the option to join back in once they have had time out.
  • Avoid making any promise or action that you cant follow through with
  • Engage with the teachers where possible and get them on side. The more they join in the easier it is for the children and you.
  • Once you have put children in groups, quietly ask the teacher if they would like to swap anyone around.
  • Try to avoid putting children who are huddled together into the same group, where possible split them up. We want to break up troublemakers and also encourage children to work with new people.
  • Use “director’s coming” or similar tag line as a control command
  • Always count children down, or give them time limits when you want them to achieve a goal. 
  • Talk to children about what it means to act. For example “in Eastenders do you think those people are married in real life? They are acting, and I think you can act too, because you are very smart” to help boys and girls overcome having to work together.
  • When asking a question, use your voice to control the outcome. Also avoid asking a question if you are nervous about the outcome. 
  • Ignore negativity from a child, unless you are sure you can turn it around. Once one says something and gets a reaction, other children will copy.
  • Remember- if you wind a group of children up, you have to have a strategy to wind them back down
  • Children will always copy the things you don’t want them to copy! Be careful what you demonstrate. For example a pose on one leg is easy for us, but hard for children.
  • Where time and situation allows, end the session by doing a simple breathing exercise to calm the children down. Then you can ask them quietly to line up by the door. It is nice to send them back calmly to class and not just leave the teacher to take over. Some teachers will automatically take over control of the class but not always.
  • Using your imagination encourages them to use theirs. Adding things like “this is our stage, and it’s as if a spotlight comes up on group one” and “this wall isn’t here, its banks and banks of people, back as far as the eye can see, like the O2 arena” helps make them understand the space but also helps add excitement and drama to their sessions.