7 Characteristics of a good Computing Scheme of Work

So what are the attributes of a good ICT and Computing scheme of work? Here's the list of what I've always looked for:

It must address the requirements laid down by the District or State or Government.

Now, say you teach in England, and you have an absolutely brilliant scheme of work for Computing. Only, it doesn't match the National Curriculum's Programme of Study for Computing at all. Then perhaps you are going to have to go back to the drawing board on that one.

However, I'm now going to cheat! Because what I would say is, if the scheme of work is brilliant but doesn't seem to match the Programme of Study, you have a couple of choices:

· Take a closer look at the scheme of work alongside the Programme of Study. Are you absolutely certain there is no correlation? Perhaps concepts are disguised, or in the "wrong" order. But can you still map the scheme of work to the Programme of Study, at least partially?

· Disapplication. There is, or at least used to be, a process whereby a school could apply to be relieved of the requirement to follow the Programme of Study. I can’t find the information on the Government website now, so perhaps that option no longer exists except by becoming an academy or starting your own free school. But I would say look again, because the Programme of Study is so thin that you fit almost anything into it.

It should be appropriate but challenging

At the risk of stating the obvious, it's not good enough to have a scheme of work that just addresses students' current needs and abilities. It needs to be able to stretch them and be able to be adapted as students' grasp of the subject grows.

It must be relevant

In my opinion, one of the best ways of waking a scheme of work relevant is to make sure that at least some of it utilises students' own experiences, interests and environment.

There should be lots of opportunities for developing projects or mini-projects

You can cover the Computing Programme of Study with a series of well-thought out projects alongside other forms of teaching and learning. A good scheme of work will suggest how you might develop or localise particular aspects of its content to your circumstances.

It should have built-in training opportunities

For example, if one of the items is about teaching how to create simple Scratch programs, there should either be a tutorial right there, or at least a link to a YouTube clip or other useful resource.

It should be more than just a checklist

Avoid any scheme of work that tells you hat once you and your students have completed Unit X, you have "done" algorithms, Scratch programming or whatever. There should, instead, be opportunities to revisit concepts and skills at higher and more complex levels as the course goes on.

Ideally, it should involve collaboration

While it's true that a camel is a horse designed by a committee, there's a lot to be said for having several people involved in the creation of a scheme of work.

If you are fortunate enough to have a team to work with in your school, consider having each team member take responsibility for a half-term unit, ie one lasting around 6 weeks. If they are in charge of not only content but teaching materials and CPD for the rest of the team, and given a free hand over how they choose to address the concepts concerned, you can end up with a very rich and complete scheme of work indeed.

If you do not have a team within your school to work with, or even if you do, try to work with other people – even if you're the expert and they are not. Why? All is explained in a future article.


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