Teaching Structure

Today I met with Simon and my head of department, Pete, again to continue our discussion with how to move forward towards the first teaching in September. The main talking point was what we need in place before we can really start creating a scheme of work.

One thing that has been confirmed since our initial discussion is that the school will want us to enter students for the AS examinations at the end of year 12. This will be school policy for all subjects and, as such, is non-negotiable.

The next decision we will need to make as a department is how we are going to divide up the teaching between two or three colleagues. We are very lucky in that all of our members of staff are confident to teach A-level and keen to do so, but any significant changes to the way we currently operate is likely to mean that at least one person will miss out next year. This of course assumes stability, something that at the moment seems likely but that we can never rely on.

In our current structure each module is taught by a different teacher, so that each class has three teachers. This means that each teacher is responsible equally for the attainment of students across the course. It also means that the content is neatly parcelled out, and there are not too many tricky decisions over when to teach content, although with the core modules some thought has been needed so that, for example, differentiation is reached in C1 before C2.

In my previous role at a different school I abolished the distinction between the two core modules and taught it as one block. Where one topic was included in both modules it was taught at the same time, allowing more time to be focussed exploring ideas around the area as a whole. This led to a better flow, with topics seeming less disjointed. The teaching was split between two colleagues, but taught in a linear fashion with them handing over at the end of each lesson. The applied unit was split across the year, dovetailing with the core content at appropriate times. It would make sense if we were to adopt this model to have each of the two teachers leading one of the applied sections.

A further model would be to have one teacher cover all of the core material and one covering the applied. This is probably my least preferred option given the new split in the applied material between statistics and mechanics. I have heard of this model being used successfully in other schools (although obviously with only one applied option being taught), but have also heard of complaints from the applied teacher about being seen as less of a priority than the “main” teacher covering core.

My instinct at the moment is that the two teachers sharing equally will be the most workable solution, so I will start building on this principle. The next thing to start thinking about will be the order in which to cover the content.