Schemes of Work (SoW) refer to guidelines designed to make the teaching of subjects more manageable. They provide supporting information about planning and teaching the subjects and form important documentary evidence about course delivery. However, SoW are also extremely flexible teaching guides that can be moulded to take account of local teaching needs and resources. There is no set method for developing schemes. Colleges that responded to requests for information whilst researching this article approached SoW in their own way. All were agreed on the importance of accurate schemes to guide subject delivery. One respondent compared SoW to a ?road map of a journey?. Many colleges incorporate the need to develop and make widely available SoW into their strategic planning processes. SoW can be used to plan for any subject and at any level.
Why use Schemes of Work?
SoW allow teaching staff to organise their work so that course delivery remains on target and in accordance with the syllabus content. It is quite easy to see SoW as an unnecessary administrative burden, in addition to all the other paperwork that staff have to complete. However, this view, which underestimates the importance of SoW, is mistaken for two reasons. First, in the long run, lecturers who adhere to SoW are more likely to achieve the aims and objectives of the syllabus being taught. As planning tools, SoW can also be seen as time management tools. The time spent on developing a scheme at the start of a course is small compared to the time saved for delivering the course in accordance with it. Unplanned course delivery adds to workloads. Second, many colleges are now geographically dispersed around many locations. It is therefore important, to maintain consistent standards, that staff who teach a particular syllabus follow the same plan. This is also important if the teacher changes during the course. Any disruption caused by this can be minimised where SoW are available to guide course delivery. As planning tools, SoW can also be seen as way markers for course delivery by determining the prerequisites for moving on. For example, the scheme may specify the material that should be covered before a practical test. It may determine what is needed before a project can begin. Because SoW are important planning tools for guiding course delivery, they should be easily accessible. Many colleges now make them available on the Intranet or VLE, so that they can be accessed by staff and students. Indeed, in some cases the Intranet is designed around the SoW, thus placing all the resources in context. Some colleges only make the templates available on the network, but it is good practice to make the completed schemes available as well. A further development would be to provide links from items in the scheme to resources and assessments. Any changes to course delivery should be incorporated within the schemes and learners should be informed of the changes. The best way to do this is to regularly refer learners to the scheme, so that they can see a link between them and the way the course is progressing. What information should SoW provide?
For SoW to be useful, it is important that they contain some key information that has formative value. It is important, first, to define the learning objective. This is about describing, in a logical order, the steps necessary to build up the knowledge and understanding of a subject or topic. After this come the teaching activities, which help the acquisition of knowledge and understanding. A flexible approach should be taken to defining teaching activities- the same topic can be approached in different ways in different colleges. For example, a college may be located in an area rich in local resources useful for a particular subject, such as history or geography. Another college may need to cover the same topics using other resources, such as ICT based learning material. SoW do not restrict the variety of...