Heads of Faculty: Advance Planning – 3 ways to make your teachers lives (a little bit) easier next year
Schemes of Work
Firstly, you need one. I appreciate that the newly accredited GCSE specifications have been a more than a little tardy in their arrival. This has made everyone’s lives more pressurised than they need to be. That is, however, the situation we find ourselves in so it needs to be handled as efficiently as possible.
Given the time constraints, it doesn’t matter if your first Scheme of Work is a simply a checklist for each topic, highlighting higher and foundation tier content (and in the case of science, double and triple content).Your teachers need something concrete to guide them.
Secondly, set up a system where your teachers can share their resources on a lesson by lesson basis; this will help foster teamwork in the department, help staff feel less isolated and reduce the need for everyone to start planning from scratch. Sharing makes you feel good!
Thirdly, try to set up a consistent file structure for your Scheme. This will help your teachers efficiently locate resources, enable the technicians to locate technician notes for practicals and the less computer-literate amongst us will find comfort in the regular routine.
Never a pleasant topic for anyone involved. Try building it into your Scheme of Work, even one lesson per topic would be helpful. That way, when staff are absent the resources are already available and the technicians know where thy are. A bank of cover lessons in your arsenal will mean that when staff are too ill to get out of bed, no-one has to rush round and organise textbooks, worksheets, photocopying etc.
Alternatively, you could buy in a ready made cover resource pack from an external supplier. Some come with information sheets, question sheets and answer sheets that are exam board specific. That way the work can be marked in the lesson (either by projecting it or by the cover supervisor calling out the answers) and is directly relevant to the students learning. This method also has the advantage of not requiring textbooks (not every school can afford books for all the new GCSEs).
This is a thorny topic in many staff rooms. How to set homework that is both beneficial to the students and that does not place a further marking burden on staff.
You could implement a no homework policy? Unlikely, but a teacher can dream….
As your Scheme of Work takes shape, ask teachers to share homework (and answers!) that is used. That way, staff can select the ones they like or are at a sensible place, content-wise, to to use. Having tasks that are peer assessed in class will also reduce marking and should give all the associated benefits of peer assessment too. You could try having one homework at the end of each topic that summarises the content and provides a starting point for revision.