28 June 2016

Scheme of Work Development

In March the Independent Teacher Workload Review Group recommended that "a fully resourced, collaboratively produced scheme-of-work should be put in place for all teachers for the start of each term". This is meant to reduce workload, though of course we all know that creating and maintaining a decent scheme of work is an enormous task.

Anyone who has worked at more than one school knows that schemes of work vary hugely in format and content. A good scheme of work, when followed by all teachers, ensures consistent topic coverage across teaching groups. I'm not saying that teachers shouldn't be allowed to go off on a tangent, but it's helpful for an incoming Year 11 teacher to refer to a GCSE scheme of work to see what topics their students studied in Year 10. And if teaching groups change year-on-year then it makes life easier if all students studied the same topics in Year 10.

I'm working on my school's GCSE scheme of work at the moment and I thought it might be useful to share my thoughts and experiences.

My previous school's GCSE scheme of work was created in Word, and looked like this:
It wasn't perfect, but it worked well and had been in place for a number of years. The sequence of topics was sensible, the timings worked and the format was fairly user-friendly. Importantly, teachers could quickly access useful resources, saving them time in lesson planning.

I moved school last June and found that my new school used a timeline which was created in Excel. Having picked up some ideas from Twitter (mainly @missradders - thank you!) I set about turning their timeline into a fully resourced PowerPoint-based scheme of work.

The PowerPoint I've created opens with a timeline showing the order of teaching, as shown below. Each topic is hyperlinked to a slide which contains more details about exactly what to teach.

At seven lessons a fortnight we've been fairly tight on time this year but this allocation is increasing next year. I hope to finish teaching new topics to Year 11 by Easter but I've cautiously indicated on the scheme of work that we may run into the summer term, leaving very little time for revision.

Clicking on a topic leads to a slide that sets out the specification (using extracts from AQA's Teaching Guidance) and provides links to resources. Here's an example:

I've edited this format slightly for the Year 11 pages I've been working on lately, increasing clarity for Foundation teachers.

I find these pages very useful when I'm planning lessons - I can see exactly what I'm meant to teach and what resources are available for each topic. I think it's working well.

So what's next for my scheme of work? Well the order of topics didn't work brilliantly this year so we need a reshuffle for our next cohort of Year 10s. For example, linear graphs was taught prior to solving equations and rearranging formulae, which doesn't make sense. In general the order seemed a bit haphazard, so I'll work on grouping and ordering topics in an attempt to make it flow better.

I'd love to see your GCSE scheme of work if you're willing to share it. I know that Craig Barton has recently launched a new GCSE scheme of work here - given the quality of Craig's work, I'm sure this will be worth exploring.


  1. I'm in the middle of a Year 10 scheme of work for the new IGCSE, and I've gone for a similar timeline approach although all based in google docs. Click on the topic title and it takes you to a page lifted from the Edexcel SoW (which has objective, possible success criteria, opportunities for reasoning/problem solving, common misconceptions, notes and questions from SAMs) and then I'm also adding in (slowly but surely but it might have to remain a work in progress at this rate!) my own notes and ideas for teaching methods, plus links to good resources.

  2. I worked with a group of teachers a few years ago and we produced this:
    Although through moving schools I don't use the scheme much, just the resources.
    We adapted the Norfolk Pi Scheme which I think has been used in other counties too (we heard that Edexcel pinched it for their own scheme of work!). It is progressive and we are not tied to teaching particular topics to defined years or sets. With a great set of maths teachers you need the flexibility to teach the right content to students based on a loose framework.