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Ten steps to a scheme of work

1 Give yourself a head start. Do a bit of networking. Call in long-forgotten favours, do whatever it takes to get the information you need. This may be in the form of schemes of work from other schools or local education authority guidelines. There are even computer programs to help. There's no need to reinvent the wheel.

2 Make use of the wisdom of your colleagues who, between them, will have a wealth of experience across all age ranges. Bag some in-service training time so that you can harness some of this brainpower.

3 Since the reason for the scheme of work is to ensure national curriculum coverage, take the national curriculum booklet and copy all the maths pages.

4 Draw up some grids for each key stage. The layout illustrated works well (use A3 size). It includes a column for statements from the maths Order's programme of study. and then two for each year in the key stage: one for concept skillknowledge and the other for activities resources.

5 This is where it gets very tedious. Break every statement in the programme of study into bite-size chunks. Cut and paste into the left-and column of the appropriate key stage grid. This document is going to be very lengthy, but it will be used and used and used again.

6 INSET time: Share your new-found wisdom on having a realistic overview. It is important that colleagues do not waste valuable shared time by striving for perfection. You can always seek advice on the most difficult points from other sources later.

Organise staff into key stages. If you have enough people you can sub-divide further in order to spread the workload. Each team is allocated the appropriate grids.

Ask them to work through the grids, line by line, outlining the coverage, reinforcement and progression in each year. Then they can list some activities. In the interests of brevity, the suggested activities will only be a "taster" of what is possible.

It is essential that you furnish colleagues with the information that you gleaned from external sources at Step One. Much of the brain work is already done in terms of developmental stages and there will be some good activity ideas.

Don't assume Using and Applying Mathematics is covered "by all the other maths we do". Tackle it head-on with the cut and paste treatment. It's worth considering putting more activities here and in other difficult areas, than anywhere else. It's also worth including Reception in your grid, even though it's not mandatory, to help with continuity.

7 0rganise a maths working party of four or five teachers across the age ranges to wade through all the completed grids. Check each programme of study statement for progression and suitable reinforcement.

Take the school's commercial maths scheme and see if and how it supports each statement on your grid. Write in relevant worksheets and book references. This helps staff, and allows the commercial scheme to fulfil its role as a tool rather than the driving force.

8 Distribute draft copies to each member of staff, asking them to assess the accuracy of the document in relation to their current year group. Are there any omissions? Is it realistic? Will there be sufficient opportunity for reinforcement?

9 It's implementation time. Get feedback from staff about any difficult areas that need review. At the end of its first year, do a school-wide review and make any necessary adjustments. Set the date for the next revision, as this monitoring must continue.

10 The whole process will take some time. Get the balance right; don't rush it, but equally don't let the whole thing be held up by details. Never forget - a well-considered scheme with a few reviewable hiccups is better than no scheme at all.

Rosalind Walford is maths co-ordinator at Belmont primary school in Chiswick, west London.

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