By Lynn English
Schemes of work are used to provide guidance for teachers to both meet curriculum requirements and help plan and deliver effective learning episodes for students.
A scheme of work is often the standard departmental document, which teachers may feel compelled to slavishly follow, come what may… Off-the-shelf schemes don’t take into account the differences in an individual school, never mind a particular group of students. If the scheme of work is not flexible or tailored to learners needs, is it actually worth the paper (or disc space) it’s written on?
Scheme of Work or Scheme of Learning?
How about considering it as a scheme of learning? Students are not passive recipients of “work”, they need to be engaged to explore and learn the science around them. An effective scheme of learning gives enough support for both specialist and non-specialist teachers to actively engage students with well-prepared lessons, without stifling individuality. An outstanding scheme of learning is not a one-size fits all approach to lessons, but contains enough guidance to help teachers plan their own learning episodes to promote learning. If it draws on learning opportunities within the locality and community of the school it can enhance the relevance of the subject knowledge being covered.
There is often a difference to how an experienced teacher, leading lessons within their own subject, approaches lesson planning , compared to one teaching outside their specialism or with less experience. The shift from subject knowledge that needs to be learnt to understanding the best way to teach that knowledge is often hard to quantify.
A good scheme should give sufficient background and support to allow any science teacher to feel confident that they can present the subject knowledge in the most appropriate way to promote progress in learning within their lessons in any area.
Ofsted’s view on schemes of learning
Ofsted look for evidence of progress in learning when they visit a school. A scheme of learning should be there to help teachers achieve this. On the Outstanding Schemes of Work course at the National Science Learning Centre, we have worked with teachers from across the UK to improve the quality and format of their departmental schemes. It is not something that can be approached lightly so, much of the course is about the good practice that can help bring teachers on in how they implement change.
Developing your own outstanding schemes of work/learning
The National Science Learning Centre’s two-part course itself includes exemplary practitioners working with course participants to develop effective ways of delivering subject knowledge. Effective planning for progression is addressed. Previous participants have made substantial changes to their practice which has proven benefit to their learners. Sharing of good practice and time to develop SoL’s away from their school has been reported as enormously beneficial by those who have attended previously.
How do schemes of work assist or hinder at your school or college? Do they help or hinder? Are the prescriptive or flexible? Do you have a good example?
Filed under: continuing professional development, Enquiry, Secondary and Post-16 | Tagged: continuing professional development, effective learning, Ofsted, schemes of learning, Schemes of work, science cpd, science enquiry, science schemes of work, secondary | Leave a Comment »