As we reached the end of the autumn term, our first teaching the new A-level specification, my thoughts started to turn to the shape of the second year of the course. We ended the term with a training day, for which we were given no agenda from above, so I decided to spend 3 hours of this ordering the topics for year 2. For this task I worked with Will, who I have been teaching the year 12 course with. We were again joined by Simon from MEI.

One thing that we have felt has held us back slightly this year is that our framework is different to that of other schools within the trust. This is partly due to the fact that we have different structures, we only have one group and are therefore sharing the teaching between the two of us, where the other schools have more than one group and have teachers who are involved in more than one group. This makes the close collaboration that we have been able to maintain much more difficult for them. We therefore decided to try and make our second year framework possible to split into two separate teachers running in parallel, rather than just our linear system, which is effectively just one teacher. This will hopefully allow other schools within the trust to adopt our order, allowing greater collaboration in the creation of resources and assessment materials.

The scheme of work allows for 4 weeks of study at the end of year 12, after AS examinations are complete. There are nominally 6 weeks available to us but experience tells us that at least two of these will be lost to whole school events.

Our starting point was the detailed content statements from the DofE specification document. We had these cut up so that we could place them into our framework, shuffling as often as we needed. Our initial thoughts were to look for obvious connections in the content for topics that should take place close together. For example we decided that parametric equations would work well with parabolic motion. This led to us splitting the numerical methods topic into sections and placing these with other topics, for example putting the trapezium rule with integration. We then tried to place the topics into an order where any pre-requisites were taught first – surprisingly difficult with the way that the contents links together.

We wanted to put a large section of the trigonometry as early as possible as there are so many other topics that link back to it. The problem with having this so early is that we had not planned to have completed functions, something that links well with the inverse trigonometric functions. We decided to leave this order, but to use the inverse functions as our way in to functions, coming back to discuss the conditions that need to be placed on the domain and range. The order of topics is shown here:

In our model of having two teachers in parallel, rather than this linear structure we moved some additional content from the left hand column to the right hand column. The topics moved were all of the trigonometry, vectors and parametric equations.

And so concluded a successful morning – we even finished in time for Christmas lunch!