Diary of an NQT: Planning a scheme of work

Written by: Diary of an NQT | Published:
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Asked to take on the planning of a scheme of work for her department, our NQT diarist has revelled in the experience and now awaits her colleagues’ verdict...

So here we are. With January comes the second term as an NQT. So far, I’ve managed to tick the following boxes: parents’ evening, reports and data collection, a full term’s worth of teaching, and summative assessments completed. When I think of all of these elements individually, it is hard to believe we are only a third of the way through.

Before Christmas, I had agreed to write a scheme of work for a year 9 module which the department will begin teaching this month. I’m lucky to work in a very collaborative department that genuinely enjoys sharing ideas of good practice.

We have an interleaved key stage 3 English curriculum, which basically means that we study a particular theme that is paired with a main novel or play, and study linked poems, non-fiction and fiction within this. This is something that is new to the department, so we are constantly communicating and sharing new resources.

It is because of this that I feel fairly comfortable with the responsibility. It can be a daunting thought when I consider that some very experienced members of staff will be using the resources I have put together. I’ve had experience planning lessons, but a full scheme of work is a huge job.

Nonetheless, the generosity of many other teachers out there in the sphere of social media has left me amazed and inspired by the many resources that are so readily available and circulated. So I embraced the challenge with open arms!

I really enjoy planning and I was excited to start a project from scratch. Naïvely, I anticipated that all of my chaotic ideas would materialise into a brilliant scheme of work before my eyes, but my eagerness was somewhat hindering this time.

When designing a scheme of work around a novel, it is obviously imperative that you know the text to a particular level (I’m sure this same principle applies in other subjects). However, after reading the text just once, I dived straight in with planning. After around six lessons, I’d run out of steam, ideas and content. Considering this is to be a term’s worth of planning, I realised that more planning and preparation was needed on my part.

I took it back to the drawing board. After doing lots of research on how to structure a scheme of work, I found it much easier to focus my thinking. I read multiple blogs and borrowed a few books from my colleagues which helped immensely. My mentor and I also looked at existing schemes in the department and she gave me great insight into how to “chunk” areas of themes, context, character exploration etc. It was also important to cross-reference the content with the AQA specification to link it to the bigger picture of the students’ learning. All in all, I realised that it’s a much bigger job than I first anticipated and much more time-consuming.

Despite this, the experience and research has been really useful in expanding my creativity when designing lessons. As I was generating and culminating my ideas, I was able to experiment with some of these activities in my classes (a range of different abilities) before Christmas. This in itself has guided me in terms of adapting different content.

Hopefully, it will be a resource that I’m proud to share with others in the department. It’s been a really important learning challenge and I’ve developed skills that I will build on in the future. It is something that has really sparked my interest and has been a creative highlight of the year so far. I am now on the lookout for further CPD on curriculum design.

  • Our NQT diarist this year is an English teacher at a comprehensive school in the Midlands.


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