July 2015
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New A level history schemes of work for 2016

As we approach the start of the new AS and level history courses in September, I thought I would see what I could do to support post-16 teachers with their schemes of work. I have taken two approaches: one to look at it from the teachers’ point of view; the other maps the students’ role in thweir own learning. This includes not only which essay and source-based assignments they will eb asked to produce( well in advance) but also their role in preparing and following up session as well as the learning activities they will be involved in for each session. I have chosen two foci to exemplify this work. The first looks at how to plan the unit on Russia from 1855, the other on Italian unification. I am happy to email anyone with the drafts of the work to-date before it goes live in September.
You might ask why we need to go beyond the schemes of work produced by the exam groups. Surely, they set the questions: it would be daft to depart too radically from what they say should be covered and the indicative content they spell out, week by week. Well the problem I have with the schemes is that they are NOT actually what we know as schemes of work. They merely show how the specification can be chunked up to fit the teaching time available. In terms of ideas on how to teach the more complex aspects, there is no guidance in the schemes.
So what exactly is missing?
1. There are often no enquiry questions to drive the learning. It is just one dollop of content after another
2. There are no objectives in some e.g. Pearson/Edexcel
3. Often there is no evidence of differentiation
4. Few contain any imaginative teaching approaches. OCR has offered some useful additional guidance on helpful strategies but as with all the schemes they need to be embedded in the schemes to reinforce that these are no just bright ideas but tried and tested ways of ensuring high quality learning
5.There is no indication of how the students will learn effectively. It is all about content coverage
6. The resources are often very vague. Edexcel goes not further than referring to chapters in books, as if we can’t do that in a blink of an eye. Edexcel offer no websites, articles from History Review or History Today, Podcasts from The History Faculty

Rather than just bemoaning the act that these Schemes are a misnomer, I have tried to show what high quality planning looks like at AS and A2 both from the teacher’s viewpoint and from the perspective of the student. It is by focusssing on the latter that we get demonstrably far better learning from the students.
Please get in touch if you want to know of further developments.

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