Before you begin planning a scheme of work, you must review any existing scheme. For all key stages consider the following:
Agreed Syllabus compliance:
Have you checked the details of your Agreed Syllabus, Diocesan or other guidelines? If not, then do this first. Some have specific legally binding requirements about what is taught at each key stage; especially about which religions and beliefs must be studied.
If there is an existing scheme, do you know which aspects or individual units are working well and which less well? Is there evidence that some units of work led to improved outcomes for all pupils or for specific groups of pupils. Take account of teacher variation, expertise and interests for example. Are there aspects of the subject where pupils show particular strengths or weaknesses, for example in relation to different attainment targets? Evidence to support this evaluation might include:
- Pupils’ views: Ask students to review units of work as they are taught. Which ones did they feel helped them learn most and least effectively? Which were most and least enjoyable and why? Note different answers for different groups of children, boy/girls, SEN, EAL etc
- Pupils’ work: This might include a work survey or sampling exercise
- Pupils’ peer and self-assessments
- Teacher records of pupil progress during each unit of work
- i. Note that in relation to KS4 and post-16, some of the examination boards offer a service which allows you to analyse the performance of candidates for each question. Example: If a particular question was answered badly by everyone, this would suggest that this section of the scheme needs immediate attention, if certain questions were answered less well for certain groups of students, there may be an issue for differentiation.
- ii. When results are published, be ready to ask a small sample of students for permission to get copies of their papers back; this will allow you to analyse results in more detail and also contribute to the review of the scheme of work.
Does the whole scheme look coherent? Within the requirements of the relevant syllabus or guidelines, check for continuity and progression in relation to the following:
- a. Key concepts
- b. Attitudes
- c. Skills and Processes (including personal learning and thinking skills)
- d. Knowledge
- e. Learning about and from religion and belief (or other relevant attainment targets in your particular Agreed Syllabus, Diocesan or other guidelines) Is it absolutely clear that each unit builds on what came before and prepares for planned learning to come later?
Does the scheme ensure that there is an appropriate level of challenge for pupils at each key stage and for the different year groups within a key stage? You might consider looking at schemes for other subject areas and comparing them in this respect
Are opportunities for day-to-day, periodic and transitional assessment built into the scheme including peer and self-assessment?
Fitness for purpose:
Does the scheme of work take account of the following:
- a. The aptitudes and family backgrounds of your students?
- b. Resources in the school and local community including places of worship, open-spaces, museums, local organisations who are willing to work with RE departments?
- c. Possible links with other subject areas in the school especially, though not exclusively the Humanities?
- d. Specialisms and interests within your teaching team; including teachers with other subject specialisms?
At Key Stage 3 consider the following:
- Prior Learning: Do you know what pupils’ have studied at key stage two? If not, contact each feeder primary school to try to obtain this information. Carry out a baseline assessment to ascertain pupils’ starting points at this key stage.
- Published units: Are there any locally produced units of work that you could modify or elements of any of the QCA units published in 2006 that might provide a useful starting point?
At key stage 4 and post-16 consider your choice of examination specification:
Which examination course are you offering? Before deciding to switch boards or specification to your personal favourite, consider these questions:
- Results: Do the results from the last session suggest that this specification is serving the students well (including those with special needs, gifted and talented, girls and boys)? Are they making good progress from their starting points? If the answer to both of these is, “Yes”, then are you convinced that the change is in pupils’ best interests?
- Resources: Will your resources support a new specification? If not, will your capitation support the change? Can you bid for additional funds?
- Staff: Do the staff who will be teaching the examination course, have the expertise to teach the new specification? Is it better suited to them as well as you? Could they receive training to make it possible to teach the new specification? Is there time for them to complete this training?
- Cohort: Has the cohort changed in a way that would make a change in specification advantageous – e.g. has there been an increase or decrease in the number of children who come from families with a particular background?
Having reviewed your choice of examination specification, consider the following:
- Board schemes: If there is no scheme of work at all, then you would be wise to use one of the schemes provided by the examination board as a starting point. You do not need to be a slave to this scheme, but if you start with this, you will at least be confident that all the requirements of the specification are covered.
- Administrative tasks: If the scheme provided by the board is laid out to a different template from that required by the school or preferred by you, then ask yourself if an administrator could cut and paste text into the new version, leaving you to edit. If so, then delegate - you do not have time to do tasks that are listed on someone else’s job-description.