ⓘ Scheme of work

Scheme of work

ⓘ Scheme of work

A scheme of work defines the structure and content of an academic course. It splits an often-multi-year curriculum into deliverable units of work, each of a far shorter weeks duration. Each unit of work is then analysed out into teachable individual topics of even shorter duration.

Better schemes of work map out clearly how resources and class activities and assessment strategies will be used to teach each topic and assess students progress in learning the material associated with each topic, unit and the scheme of work as a whole. As students progress through the scheme of work, there is an expectation that their perception of the interconnections between topics and units will be enhanced.

Schemes of work may include times and dates deadlines for delivering the different elements of the curriculum. Philosophically, this is linked to a belief that all students should be exposed to all elements of the curriculum such that those who are able to "keep up" "the best" / elite do not miss out on any content and can achieve the highest grades. This might be described as a "traditionalist" view.

There is a conflicting philosophical view that deadlines should be avoided and that each class should progress at its own pace: such that no student is "left behind". Whilst the remaining students "catch up", those students who understand quickly should be placed in a "holding pattern" full of puzzles and questions that challenge them to connect recent learning with longer-established learning they may also be encouraged to spend a small amount of time enhancing their understanding by supporting teaching staff in unpicking underlying errors/questions of fellow students who have not grasped recent ideas as quickly. This view might be described as a "Mastery" approach. In mathematics teaching in England it is strongly supported by the Government-funded National Centre for Excellence in Teaching Mathematics based on research guided by the globally-exceptional performance of schools in Singapore and Shanghai.


1. Curriculum

The scheme of work is usually an interpretation of a specification or syllabus and can be used as a guide throughout the course to monitor progress against the original plan. Schemes of work can be shared with students so that they have an overview of their course.

The ultimate source of the specification or syllabus is a curriculum. Curricula are typically defined by Government and hence by law and/or regulation. Accordingly, each country has its own though some countries choose to adopt curricula defined by other countries.

In generating a scheme of work, it is vital to have detailed regard to the legally-required curriculum of the country in which the scheme of work is to be delivered. These are typically defined, in detail, by subject. Understanding the subtleties and nuances of their presentation is of vital importance when defining the most useful schemes of work.


1.1. Curriculum England

For maintained schools and exam boards in England, the National Curriculum is set by Department for Education such that all children growing up in England have a broadly similar education.

The curriculum for Primary education ages 4/5 to 11 and Secondary education ages 11 to 18 in England is divided into five Key Stages. Key stages 1 and 2 are delivered at Primary Schools. Key Stages 3, 4 and 5 are delivered at Secondary Schools.


1.2. Curriculum English Primary Schools: Key Stages 1 & 2

AS and A-Levels in mathematics are not mandatory.

Accordingly, there is no national curriculum for AS and A-Level mathematics in England. However, there is agreed subject content required by the Department for Education for AS and A level specifications in mathematics.

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