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How much does a school's SoW say about the HoD's approach to teaching Maths?

Discussion in 'Mathematics' started by mature_maths_trainee, Apr 22, 2011.

  1. mature_maths_trainee

    mature_maths_trainee New commenter

    I'm coming to the view that the KS3 SoW (especially) says quite a bit about the HoD's approach. If it's intensively loaded with 'content', then it suggests to me a strong (excessive?) focus on examination success and monitoring (since the reason is presumably to make it precisely clear what will, and will not be examined at the end of the year) . Such a SoW gives little flexibility to individual teachers, though it does presumably make for smoother transitions at the end of each year when students may well change class teacher (when it might help the new teachers to know what their students have studied before). Perhaps the degree of detail contained in the SoW also depends upon the maturity/experience/preferences of the individual class teachers too (i.e. some may want more guidance than others)?
    I'm interested to know what, if anything, do you feel can be 'read into' a SoW (especially the KS3 SoW)?
  2. Karvol

    Karvol Occasional commenter

    A SoW is, to borrow a ToK phrase, the map and not the territory. It shows you how to get somewhere but it is not the journey itself. That is left up to the teacher.
    Now it may very well be that an overloaded SoW is used in schools to guide those who are either inexperienced or lacking in ability ( due to not being maths teachers by training but being thrust into the position out of necessity ), but any half decent teacher can take a SoW and make it interesting and challenging and while still focusing on the examination at the end.
    As for reading into a SoW, I think it would say more about your own abilities and experiences rather than anything about the person writing it. Do you feel there is too much information? If so, why? If you feel that the thrust of the SoW is towards examination success at the expense of discovery, then you need to ask yourself why this is. It is not to say that you are wrong, but that you may not have understood the purpose of the SoW.
    Why don't you just ask your HoD why the SoW is as it is?
  3. Piranha

    Piranha Star commenter

    Our SoW gives all the topics to be covered, and is full of links to suggested resources. How we teach it is pretty much up to us, but we are expected to use a range of approaches. Results are good, and the majority of GCSE students go on to do AS level. IMO, SoWs like this show that the writer has a deep understanding of the subject, the ability to make Maths interesting to students and a desire to support teachers, especially those with less experience. As a GTP/NQT, I found it , very useful to know what to do. Now, I don't need it, but I still look at the resources to find good ideas.

    I'd be interested to know where you are coming from on this. Are you unhappy with the structure because you think you can do better without it?
  4. googolplex

    googolplex Occasional commenter

    You read into a scheme of work exactly what you need to.
    If people in my dept feel the scheme that they helped set up, and mostly wrote in groups themselves (albeit using a framework set up by me), is not helpful, I'm sure they'll let me know...
    I always say that SoWs should be nothing more than a guide - however, they should allow a good teacher to step in and take over the teaching of a class. For an experienced, settled teacher, there are many more considerations as to what to teach, such as: the type of class, time of day, point during term, previous learning, intended goals, new ideas I've found, etc. etc.
    If you want to form a picture of your HoD's character, isn't it easier to talk with them?!

  5. I think that a good scheme of work should:

    Have enough detail to ensure consistency of topics being studied (so that you don't suddenly find a year 11 student has never looked at, say, transformations because of the combinations of teachers they had through school.

    Be detailed enough to support a weaker teacher yet open enough to give flexibility for more skilled staff.

    Should have a range of varied resources that the teacher may wish to use.

    The bottom line is that it should aim to ensure a minimum standard of lesson without capping lessons at this level.

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