Here’s what we do now

Last Summer, I rewrote our KS3 scheme of work. I made a snazzy spreadsheet that told teachers when they should be teaching each topic, the topic title hyperlinked to an objective ticksheet for pupils and I built in a few new things that I was (and, to some extent, am) pretty proud of.

In light of the changes to KS3 and KS4, and as a result of some feelings we’ve had, for some time, about the way we teach maths, it’s going to drastically change (I hope).

However, before that change takes place, I think it is worthwhile to stop and look at what we have right now: things that work, things that could work and things that didn’t work.

Here’s a snapshot of the first half term for year 9 – drum roll for the snazzy spreadsheet please…

SoW KS3Let me decipher it for you a little.

  • We change topics every couple of weeks – because that’s what we’ve always done.
  • School policy is to do a ‘green sheet’ assessment once per half term where we mark and give written feedback to pupils on a green WWW/EBI sheet (this should be revisited after three weeks to check progress). It didn’t work for us last year when we were doing end of topic tests and then moving on, so in this scheme of work I decided we would do a ‘cumulative’ assessment each time, so we could show progress on previous learning. Also, I wanted to regularly revisit previous topics in an attempt to stop pupils forgetting!
  • FIG Friday: Functional, Inquiry or Groupwork. This is something I am proud of. One lesson per fortnight is either a lesson with a functional theme, or an Inquiry Maths lesson (see or a groupwork lesson of some sort. It means that all our pupils get to do something a little different on a regular basis, even if that’s not their teacher’s normal style.
  • Maths OD (here’s my display board)
    A bit like 4OD, it’s Maths On Demand. Pupils write on a post-it note to tell the teacher which topics they’d like to ‘see again’ – they stick them on their TV and the teacher plans a lesson around the requests. Essentially, it gives pupils the chance to make decisions about what they revise and they respond well to the lessons because they asked for them! (Of course you don’t need the display, I just like the visual representation).
  • The ‘objectives’ hyperlink links to another tab in the spreadsheet containing a topic ticksheet that looks like this:topic tick sheet
  • At the start of the topic, we use them as a discussion point with pupils to see what they already know. When we nicked them from SJB (thank you SJB!) they had three columns which pupil would tick, cross or dash, one for before the topic, one for after and one for how many questions they got right in the test. We used it in that format for a year but it didn’t work for us. We changed it to RAG at the end of the topic and that seems to be ok.
  • Resource sharing: we have a shared resources folder and I’ve just linked the folders to the SoW so it’s always up to date. We probably don’t share enough though, but what’s in the folders could do with a good sort!

So, that’s what we’ve got now. It’s been alright for a first attempt, but I’m looking for something a little more sophisticated for my next try. Maybe something a little less busy (a bit like this one by Bruno Reddy perhaps:¬†Definitely something that works smarter not harder.

I like this tweet from Andrew Blair…



I feel like this could apply equally to a scheme of work. Less to it and more in it… room to explore and master.

I’ll keep you posted…


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2 Responses to Here’s what we do now

  1. Primary prowess says:

    As a primary head who has recently worked with maths teachers from two different secondary schools, I’m a bit worried that they seemed totally unaware about the seismic changes happening to the ks2 maths curriculum. Guys you need to take a look! For example, head of maths at one secondary had not heard that from 2016 the ks2 sats will only give method marks to the officially sanctioned ‘efficient’ methods of calculating the 4 ops. Ie long multiplication rather than the grid, long division rather than chunking or number line methods, and vertical methods for + and -.. So some primaries will do this well by using a conceptual, pictorial abstract approach and loads of manipulables, some will carry on regardless with mainly horizontal methods and some will teach the formal algorithms badly as magic spells without building conceptual understanding.
    Another example is teaching topics earlier, especially fractions, decimals, percentages and ratio. For example, adding fractions with different denominators is now in year 4. Head of maths blanched and said ‘ we’ve decided to leave that to year 8′. He hadn’t heard the term ‘ bar model ‘ before either- though said they sort of used them.
    I understand that secondaries take children from a range of feeders all of whom have a different take on this, but be aware that change is coming. If I were to advise two things it would be: lad opt the bar model approach, particularly for fdpr, and invest in place value discs, shedding any notion that equipment is for babies. Oh and look at the ncetm videos for primary- really good.

    • Thank you for this, I agree it’s really important to look at the ks2 changes as they will of course affect us too. Thank you for the advice about the manipulables, I think we often overlook then at secondary school which may contribute to the ‘just do the method’ approach. All advice gratefully received!

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