It’s bad enough feeling rushed all the time as you slog through the bulging GCSE spec. But it’s even worse when you realise many students won’t have enough time to understand at the depth GCSE requires. However you divide KS3 and GCSE there’s too much stuff. When we did a curriculum time analysis for AQA, we found there are 5.5 years worth of content altogether, but only 4.5 years to teach it. A year 3 pupil could tell you that isn’t going to end well. So how on Earth can you still teach well?
I believe the only solution is take a 5-year perspective and reshape your curriculum using ‘backwards design’ . In other words, first get clear on the outcomes by analysing the most demanding exam questions. This defines the outcomes: concepts, skills, facts and cognitive abilities. The backwards part is to reorganise your curriculum as a 5-year programme that works systematically towards these outcomes.
2 years ago, I started sharing how to do it with teachers, but it’s a big job and who’s got time? So we decided to take it on, with the help of a qualification authority (you’ll have to guess 🙂 and voila, Blueprint. All the spec statements are categorised by knowledge type, and each unit focusses on a few key concepts and skills. Students revisit big ideas every year, and this means they remember what they did and learn facts more easily. And that means you don’t have to repeat everything.
The best part is that there’s time to teach. Each concept gets its own apply and analyse objectives and we’ve written them to signal the kind of activities students need – including investigative work and applications of science. By our calculations, you can do this and still get through everything in GCSE Combined Sciences by Easter in Year 11. See part 2 of this blog for curriculum time estimates. Blueprint will be published later this summer.
However, the magic happens only when you align your teaching and assessment with the short and long-term plans. Teachers told us this is not easy to do, so we’ve put together CPD:
KICKSTART your 5-year plan is a workshop to turn you into an implementation wizard. Checkout your nearest venue. And it’s only this term.