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Preparing a Scheme of Work for ICT in Primary Schools

You have been asked to prepare a scheme of work for ICT.
It can be difficult to know where to start, what to include and how to make it useful to other teachers. This section goes through:
What a scheme of work is
The QCA scheme of work
Approaches to writing a scheme of work
Pupil activities
Implementing your scheme of work.

What is a Scheme of Work?
A written scheme of work has become necessary since schools now have to be more accountable for what they teach. OFSTED will look at the scheme of work to see if your school has planned to cover the Programmes of Study for ICT and if the work is planned at levels appropriate to pupils' ages. In a similar way parents and governors can look at the way the work is planned and be reassured that money invested in ICT is being well used to improve learning. OFSTED will also check to see if you are using the QCA/DfEE scheme of work; and/or how you have adapted it to fit your school circumstances.
Generally, a scheme of work will include all the elements of the programme of study for ICT but divided into sections so that each class teacher knows what needs to be covered during that year. In addition, a scheme will include ideas for activities and may include sample lesson plans. These can be planned together with other subject coordinators to ensure that ICT is taught, developed and practiced in a number of different contexts. For example:

Using the same ICT skills, pupils can collect information by using questionnaires and present it in the form of pie and/or bar charts.
Geography - Unit 8 Improving the Environment. Pupils use a questionnaire to collect data on the types of rubbish collected over a week and present the information
Science - Unit 4a Moving and Growing. Pupils measure parts of the body; make predictions related to size and use bar charts or pictograms to present their findings.
Maths - Numeracy strategy P114 - Organising and interpreting data. Pupils use bar charts to present information on bus times.

Once the scheme is completed, it will provide the basis for planning ICT in your school. The programmes of study when divided up, will state what has to be included in long term plans over one or two years. Activities show what will be covered from term to term. Lesson plans will show the learning and resources in the short term, from day to day.
When you have prepared your scheme, it may be that some parts of the programme of study will not be taught at the present time. Your scheme can then be used to show what training needs to be planned or what equipment purchased. In this way your scheme becomes a statement of how your school intends to develop ICT over the next one to three years. If it is to be used in this way it is important that your plans for ICT match with the school development plan, particularly if funding is needed.

The QCA Scheme of Work
The QCA scheme was initially written for teachers to use with their one or two computers in the classroom. Since the introduction of NGfL and the increase of computer suites, it can equally be adapted to this environment. The scheme was written as defined units consisting of short tasks to systematically develop the skills and knowledge required to build ICT capability. These are followed by a short integrated task which uses this expertise. The units taken as a whole comprise the scheme. Since the introduction of the scheme a further 5 units have been written. The scheme now delivers the programme of study if used in its entirety. Nevertheless there are some areas where progression of experience is still poor. For example the unit on e-mail only occurs in year 3. The table below shows the spread of the units over experiences based on skills and knowledge.

Areas of Experience covered by QCA units :

Year 1
Year 2
Year 3
Year 4
Year 5
Year 6
Graphics - 2B - 4B 5A -
Text/DTP/multimedia 1B 2A 3A 4A - 6A
Sound - - 3B - - 6A
Email - - 3E - - -
Handling data 1D, 1E 2C, 2E 3C 4C, 4D 5B, 5C -
Research/Internet 1C 2C - - - 6D
Modelling 1A, 1C - 3D - 5D 6B
Control 1F 2D - 4E 5E 6C
Monitoring - - - - 5F 6C

Using this table can help to identify where you will need to add to the QCA scheme to ensure progression.

There are a number of issues of progression which the QCA scheme does not address:
Gaps in experiences as highlighted by the above table
Issues of progression which arise if the school only delivers the units in the year specified. This is generally more of an issue where planning for Foundation, Key Stage 1 and Key Stage 2 are separate and teachers do not "take" from other year groups when appropriate. See example 1 below.
Gaps which are highlighted by mapping the requirements of ICT use by other subjects. See example 2

Example 1 - Foundation Stage pupils will use ICT across a range of areas of learning. Young children's experience and capability has increased since the introduction of the QCA scheme, with the result that many of the early learning outcomes in the Year 1 units are already well embedded before Year 1. To add to this, the Year 1 and 2 units are less taxing than the capabilities of year two pupils who are achieving Level 3 in other subjects. As a result, you may wish to consider the introduction of some whole Year 3 units or some elements (ie the short focussed tasks) before Year 3. Unit 3A on Combining Text and Graphics is one such example.

Example 2 - The use of Internet is a Year 6 unit. This focuses on pupils' ability to skim, scan and extract appropriate information, rather than just keying in a URL to find information. It maps well into the Literacy strategy for Year 6. Any scheme would need to consider how the Internet will be introduced to children at a younger age. For example, Year 2 pupils may access web sites pre-prepared by the teacher by clicking on a Word file of links. Year 4 pupils will need to develop skills of using the Internet to fulfill the wide range of expectations from other subjects. There is no QCA ICT unit to cover the development of these skills but any tailored scheme would need to address this gap. See attached table of links with brief outline of learning objectives.

Unit 4 (additional): Internet use
To purposefully navigate a CD ROM or Internet page.
Begin to use search engines and URLs.

Table : Opportunities to apply and develop ICT techniques, knowledge and capability

PoS/Strategy reference QCA reference Activities
literacy Y4, T1 Reading comprehension 17 To identify features of non-fiction texts in print and ICT, eg headings, lists, bullet points, captions which support the reader in gaining information efficiently
Yr 4, T1 Reading comprehension 23 To investigate how reading strategies are adapted to suit the different properties of ICT texts…..
Reading 7a, 9b To be able to read a range of materials including print and ICT based reference and information materials (eg dictionaries, encyclopedias, CD ROMs, Internet)Yr 4, T 2 Non-fiction reading comprehension 17 To scan texts in print or on screen to locate key words or phrases, useful headings and key sentences ….
Science Unit 4D Solids, liquids and how they can be separated Use CD ROMs to illustrate molten metals, or molten lava ….
Unit 4a Moving and growing Use of CD ROM to investigate skeleton
Geography Unit 10 A village in India Use maps, atlases, CD ROM and Internet to find information linked to Europe, Asia, India and Chembakolli
4a, 4b Find out about the events, people and changes studied from an appropriate range of sources including ICT based sources. Ask and answer questions and select and record information relevant to the focus of the enquiry
Unit 9 Second World War Wide range of research into this topic
- Unit 6a Roman case study Unit 6b Anglo-Saxon case study Unit 6c Viking case study Wide range of research into these topics
- Unit 10 Ancient Egypt Wide range of research into this topic
RE Unit 4A How and why do Hindus worship at home and in the mandir? Use CD ROMs to investigate the role of the shrine and for further research
- Unit 4B Celebrations: Christmas journeys Use CD ROMs or Internet to to collect pictures showing Israel
- Unit 4C Why is Easter important for Christians? General research
- Unit 4D What religions are represented in our neighbourhood? Use Internet or CD ROMs to form part of other research to discover which religious traditions are represented in our neighbourhood.
PE Unit 2 Athletics CD ROM used to show movement of the body. Also potential to link to Unit 4b if digital camera used

In writing the scheme of work, or adapting the one written by QCA to fit your circumstances, you will need to take into account the stage of development of the school in relation to such outside factors such as the NGfL rollout of equipment, and staff basic skills expertise and when NOF training will be undertaken. These factors will affect whether you will complete your scheme in one go or take a piecemeal approach and build it up overtime.

Approaches to writing a Scheme of Work

You can build up a scheme of work in a variety of ways, by:
formalising existing practice - starting from where you are now
focusing on one particular part of the ICT curriculum by developing an area eg linked to NOF training (Literacy, Numeracy or Science)
using the QCA scheme as a starting point
developing chronologically starting at Year 1 and progressing through to Year 6.

We will now consider the different approaches to writing a scheme of work and you can decide which parts can be achieved quickly and which may be developed over time.

Formalising existing practice
Staff will already be teaching ICT to pupils during the school year and the scheme of work is a way of formalising what they do by writing it down. In this case, the scheme of work is a record of current practice, showing the ICT that is taught on a regular basis. The advantage of this approach is that the scheme matches what teachers already do and is based on successful ICT. The disadvantage is that not all of the programmes of study may be covered and that pupils may have more ICT in one year than another. It is a quick starting point, however; which can be added to as you develop areas of ICT. It will also be possible to check against the QCA scheme , the missing gaps and target training.

Focusing on an area of ICT, eg linked to NOF training
This is a way of planning for the development of ICT based on a focus which can involve all staff. It is likely that you will be working with all staff during the NOF training linked to the core subjects. This will enable you to develop ICT capability through the work of specific subjects. If some staff are still unsure in their approach to ICT there is an opportunity to develop ICT skills and areas of ICT in a systematic way. You will need to arrange a staff meeting to discuss the plan of work.

Starting from the QCA scheme
This is a good strategy to use if ICT is a priority area within your school and there are a number of staff meetings already allocated to ICT. You will need to look at the QCA scheme for ICT and divide it up so that each year group has the required units. Bear in mind Example 1 in the section on Progression. Factors which will influence you may be:

The strength of provision for Early Years
The equipment you have in school
Whether the school has a computer suite?
How much time can be booked for each class - one or two hours a week?
Special projects which will limit or increase the amount of ICT which can be included.
A residential trip or school play may mean increased opportunities for ICT.
The amount of time taken up by SATs: this may mean that there is reduced time for ICT and so more needs to be planned in other years to compensate.

All these factors will make a difference to how much ICT can be covered, and what parts of the programme of study/QCA scheme can be emphasised. These factors will vary from school to school and it is important that when you divide up the QCA units they fit with the way your school works.
Developing chronologically
You could begin by developing the work done in Year I and extend it to cover the full QCA units so that ICT is secure. The breadth of this could then be extended year-by-year until all year groups have full coverage of ICT.
It is for you to consider which approach will suit you and your school best - you may even want to use a combination of approaches. Whatever you decide, don't feel you have to complete the whole scheme of work in one session. There will be an impact on your scheme as children become better as the scheme and expertise in the school develops. It is unlikely that year 6 pupils will be able to cover all the Year 6 units at the start. Staff may still becoming familiar with a new network, with new software and pupils do not have the full range of skills on which to develop.

What activities will go into a scheme of work?

Once we have established what we want pupils to learn we need to decide which activities to use to make our teaching effective. We must consider how many experiences pupils will need to be able to achieve what we want them to learn.
For example, pupils are required to control a robotic toy with a sequence of instructions. Would they need one, two, three or more experiences before they were proficient? While this will vary from child to child, we need to decide on a number for the average child so that we can plan that number of activities during the school year. The next step is to look for opportunities within existing work where you could include ICT activities. Some are more easily included than others. For example, writing will fit into all areas of the curriculum.
Not all experiences need to come from the same area of the curriculum. If we think of the example of the robotic toy this could fit into 'direction giving' in geography 'shape and space' in maths or a topic on toys in history or technology. This would provide a number of experiences for children to develop their learning.
The table below shows specific links for ICT Unit 1F to other areas of the curriculum
1F Understanding instructions and making things happen

Table : Opportunities to apply and develop ICT techniques, knowledge and capability

PoS/Strategy reference QCA reference Activities
Literacy - -
Number 1f :To be able to communicate in spoken, pictorial and written form
- -
Shape Space and measures 1b To be able to select and use appropriate mathematical equipment when solving problems involving measures Yr 1 spring 86-88 Measure, shape and space Describe directions. Devise instructions to make a floor robot reach a particular place
Science Unit 1D Light and Dark Control of torches / switches
Geography - 2c Unit 2 How can we make our local area safe? Pedestrian crossings controlled in a predefined sequence by the press of a button.

When we are considering activities, there will be some which need continuing attention and which fit easily into normal curriculum activities and others which are better planned in a topic and which may not be repeated so often. ICT activities based on writing, painting and handling data to produce graphs and answer questions will normally be carried out regularly perhaps every half term. Those activities using adventure programs and Logo type activities will perhaps be carried out once or twice a year when they can be incorporated.
You will need to check that pupils are getting an adequate experience of all the programme of study over a key stage. This can be monitored by checking the planned activities against the areas and deciding if there are enough of each type of activity to develop learning. The other check that needs to be made is whether the activities are pitched at the correct level to help children progress in their learning. This can be done by looking at the level descriptions issued by QCA and reproduced here in the section on Assessment.

How will lessons be planned in a scheme of work?
It is unlikely that all the activities in your scheme of work will be broken down and planned as lessons. However we have found it a useful exercise to clarify exactly what is to be taught, what methods are most appropriate and what resources need to be gathered together so that teaching can be effective. It may be that detailed planning reveals that the teacher needs to prepare and understand the programme better before it can be taught or that pupils need a reminder of previous work before they can begin. Even if this does not apply to you, it may be a useful way of supporting another teacher in developing his or her use of ICT.

Implementing the scheme of work
Once the scheme of work is complete you will need to make sure that it is used by all staff. If you have been able to consult regularly with staff and the activities have been tried and introduced gradually the scheme may only need reviewing from time to time.

Strategies that work well include:
using the scheme of work as a basis for teachers to identify their training needs by looking at which activities they can do and which they will need help to do. Support can then be planned and more of the scheme implemented.
selecting an area where everyone feels weak and working on that together perhaps after focusing on it in a development day. This can be used to review the appropriateness of the activities in the scheme of work and how well they fit into everyday teaching.
ensuring that when other curriculum areas are reviewed, ICT opportunities are discussed and tried out.
Whichever scenario fits your school, the best method is to implement your scheme in a gradual and planned way. A simple proforma can help you identify how the QCA schemes and other opportunities in the curriculum can be planned across the year. For example:

Table : Scheme of Work / Planning Sheet with example entry for Year 3

Year 3 Term 1
Term 2
Term 3

QCA Unit
3A Combining Text and pictures

Subject Link
Geography - features of a rainforest

QCA Unit
3C Intro to databases
Subject Link
Science - characteristics of materials (kitchens)
QCA Unit
3B Manipulating Sound
Subject Link
Music- etc.

QCA Unit
3D - Simulations
- Cystal Rainforest

Subject Link
Geography - detrimental effects of rainforest

QCA Unit
3C Intro to databases
Subject Link
History - Greek Gods Database

QCA Unit
3E - email

Subject Link

This is a basic starting point for linking the QCA schemes of work to subject contexts.
However there is a need to develop further links over time to consolidate the application of ICT Capability to the wider curriculum.


Useful Links


What is a Scheme of work? (Becta)
Example Primary Scheme of work (Newham)
Example Primary Scheme of work (Lancs)


Downloadable files