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Become a Teacher• 3 Min read

10th August 2020

A Beginner’s Guide To Lesson Planning

Starting a new role in September? There’s so much to think about and plan that it could become overwhelming for newer teachers – don’t panic! Our beginners’ guides are here to help. This is the second in a series of guides for newly qualified teachers (or those looking to brush up for the new term!). You can read the first, Beginners’ Guide To Classroom Decoration here!

Lesson planning is one of the most important skills that teachers will learn during their teacher training period. A solid lesson plan keeps lessons focused and organised and an effective plan should make for a more effective lesson.

Who is a lesson plan for?

A lesson plan is for teachers and students, yet it also benefits the school as a whole. Teachers and students will all benefit from lesson plans providing goals and objectives, time management and assessment opportunities. Everyone will also gain from the differentiation prepared for different types of learners and those students who are struggling in class. And teachers will benefit from added confidence and the opportunity to reuse and make changes to the lesson plans if something didn’t work out. As Ofsted is actively looking for outstanding lessons which are well prepared for, lesson plans are also beneficial for the entire school.

Why do I need a lesson plan?

As a teacher, you’re employed to educate your students and help them to reach their full potential. Effective lesson planning is central to the success of this; it adds value and makes a difference. Lesson planning:

✔ Enables you to set goals and reflect on the results so you can improve your teaching and assess your students

✔ Increases student engagement through creative ideas planned in advance

✔ Allows you to plan how to integrate resources into the lesson (such as technology)

✔ Helps you to manage your time effectively and focus on your students 

✔ Enables you to meet the needs of all the various types of learners using differentiation throughout the plan

✔ Provides the lesson with structure, so that students have clear direction

✔  Records your teaching. You can refer back to the plans to reflect on what you have taught. And you can reuse lesson plans for future years

What should a lesson plan include?

There are no set rules to follow, but we’ve outlined some things to include below:

An understanding of the students’ learning from previous year groups  

Ofsted states that teachers require a good comprehension of what the class learnt in previous years. So the lesson plan must take this into account. It’s also helpful to look ahead and consider future lessons. 

What the students will learn (the aim, goal or lesson objective)  

Your aim should be inline with the government curriculum for that subject. Highlight the aims and objectives throughout the lesson plan.

The achievable steps that it will take to attain the lesson objective

Make sure that you include all the students in these steps. Differentiate where necessary when planning. You need to ensure that the lesson plan is inclusive of all your students’ abilities.

Highlight new vocabulary  

Ofsted looks to see that new vocabulary is being learnt, so make sure that you’ve considered the new vocabulary that can be learnt during a particular lesson in your plan.

Extra information and facts

Whatever subject you’re teaching, it’s difficult to remember all the dates, facts and figures and little snippets of information that will engage your students. Make sure you add these to the lesson plan so that you don’t miss anything.


Make a note on the lesson plan with the resources you’ll need and when you’ll need them. 

SEN strategies

Work with the school SENCO to ensure that any students with SEN needs will have the same opportunities for learning during the lesson as their peers. This will mean adapting the lesson plan.

Flexible timings

Your timings should be estimates: you don’t want to cut off inquisitive student minds as they ask questions just because you don’t want to go over your allocated time. But it helps to have an approximate time so that you can move the lesson along when need be. 

Why is it important to identify learning objectives?

It is important to identify learning objectives because it will help you to keep track of your students’ progress. Without learning objectives, there is no measure of whether your lesson plan has delivered the required learning results. Set objectives will also help you to organise the lesson and stay focused on the aim while you teach. And it ensures you avoid repetition as each lesson identifies or builds on new objectives. 

How should you lay out a lesson plan?


The ‘before’ element of your lesson plan should encompass the learning objectives, activities planned and ways to extend the lesson or offer additional support to pupils that may require it.

Objective – This should detail what you anticipate the learning outcome for the class will be. What will they be able to do after your lesson? 

Timings –  How will you deliver the information and instructions? Lesson plans usually include a rough timeline – make sure to leave room for pupils who may need extra time

Resources – What materials or equipment will you require, both for yourself and for your pupils

Differentiation – How will you ensure that all pupils are able to keep up with the work? What about those who finish tasks early? It can help to have an extension activity planned just in case! 

Here are some fun lesson ideas from our Pinterest board!


The main body of a lesson plan details how the lesson will be delivered – this is where it’s important to take the individual learning needs of the class into consiration – a more rowdy class may need more time to settle down, or a wind-down activity built into the timings.

How will you break the lesson down?

Dependant on what year you are teaching, this may vary! In primary school, lesson plans tend to cover three-hour lessons, whilst in secondary education, your lesson plans may need to cover just 50 mins.

What groupings will you use?

Does the work required need to be done individually and therefore quietly? Or are you planning noisy group activities? If so, it helps to build individual wind-down time into your schedule too.

If you are looking for some fun ideas for learning activities, our Pinterest board is a great place to start!


The last section lays down how you will review the success of the lesson. Most individual lessons don’t encompass a test to ensure pupils have full comprehension.

How will you end the lesson, wrap up activities or ensure that students have retained enough of the information to move on to another task?

Assessing your pupils should be an ongoing concern – but ensuring that they have taken in as much as possible from your well-planned lesson can be hard to judge! Teaching students to assess and reflect on their own work is also an important part of their learning experience. You might try asking them to write a short summary of what they have learnt, or make it into a fun activity by getting them to quiz each other.

When planning lessons, try to spot places in your teaching where a misunderstanding could arise and make sure you are on the lookout for it. Address common mistakes on your subject during your teaching so that pupils know what to look out for in their own comprehension. It’s easy to spot when one pupil isn’t engaged, they might be disruptive, or staring into the distance.

Keep an eye on The Reading Corner for our next Beginners’ Guide!

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