How to create a scheme of work

Here at EdPlace, we know the decision to home educate is not always an easy one to make and that there are many pros and cons to homeschooling your child. The need to create your own scheme of work for many is both a blessing and a curse. Deciding and planning what and how you will teach your child throughout the year can be a daunting undertaking leaving you feeling overwhelmed and a bit lost. Equally, once you know how, it can be incredibly liberating and exciting to have full control over your child’s academic development and also the ability to fully engage with and encourage their unique passions and interests.

We've put together, with the help of our talented pool of experienced teachers, a simple guide to help you tackle your first big challenge as a homeschooling parent – that of planning what you will teach your child.

What is a scheme of work?

A scheme of work, in short, is an overview or a long-term plan for what you aim to teach in a particular subject across a term or an academic year. It’s a road map for where you want to go and the steps you will need to take in order to get there. Typically, a schoolteacher will need to put in place a scheme of work for each subject they will be teaching. As a home educator, of course, you don’t have to do this, however, we would highly recommend doing so, at least for the three core subjects of maths, English and science, if not for all of the subjects you plan to cover with your child.

There are many benefits to putting together a scheme of work, not least amongst them is ensuring that you don’t accidentally leave something crucial out of your child’s education. For example, powering on with multiplication when you’ve missed out addition could cause problems further down the line for your child!

It’s also a great tool for reducing your workload as you go through the year. Sure, it can take a chunk of time before you start your teaching, however, once you’re in the flow of things instead of scrabbling around for your next lesson idea all you will have to do is consult your scheme of work and hey presto! You’re away!

How to create a scheme of work

What goes into a scheme of work?

There are as many different reasons for homeschooling as there are parents and so deciding what goes into a scheme of work for your child will differ massively from family to family. There is no right or wrong way to go about things and that freedom is one of the beauties of a home education.

However, many parents choose to follow the National Curriculum as a guideline for what to teach. There are many advantages to taking this approach. You'll be able to easily assess your child on where they are compared to their peers in mainstream education, you will ensure you don’t miss anything crucial from their education and should you ever wish to enroll your child into school in the future then you will know that they fit right back in academically.

Another advantage of following the National Curriculum is that teaching and learning resources are easy to come by. All our EdPlace resources are fully aligned with the National Curriculum and are written and designed by experienced and talented teachers from across the country so you can rest assured that you’re covering everything that needs covering and keep track of your child’s progress as well!

A quick Google search for the National Curriculum is a brilliant place to start. You might also want to check out the literacy and numeracy skills framework in use across Wales and the UK’s digital skills assessment framework as well. Using these and similar guides will ensure you’re helping your child to keep in line with, or even ahead of, the academic curve.

After you’ve taken a read through the various curriculum documents it’s an idea to start your planning by making a comprehensive list of everything you want to cover in the term ahead, or indeed whatever period of time you choose to plan for – you’re not constrained by the academic year of course. Whoo hoo!

Timing is everything

Once you’ve got a list of everything you want to cover in your scheme of work the next task is to work out how much time you’ve actually got to teach it all.

As we celebrate a lot throughout our Home Education Hub, you’re not shackled by the time limitations of a school. You don’t have to teach from 9-3pm and you don’t have to teach from Monday to Friday. However, it’s definitely a good idea to have at least some idea of when you plan on teaching and how long you will teach for.

Work out how many days you wish to teach in each term/year and then how many hours you plan to teach each day. From there you can work out the total teaching hours available to you and then allocate hours to each topic or subject.

Most schools will prioritise the teaching of English and mathematics, and rightly so, so you’ll want to give the lion’s share of your teaching time to those subjects. A strong foundation in literacy and numeracy skills will open the doors for your child to explore anything and everything they choose to after all! Next up is usually science taking up the next largest proportion of the timetable. Last but not least you’ll need to allocate time for the arts, humanities and physical education (this can be sports clubs and activities of course!). Many teachers like to teach their literacy skills through a topic, such as history. So if you’re a passionate historian feel free to fill your timetable boots – just make sure you’re packing your lessons with literacy opportunities such as reading, writing and oracy.

If your child is studying for an exam, such as their GCSEs, then don’t forget to factor in some revision time at the end of your scheme of work! Don’t make the rookie mistake of filling every hour you’ve got with jam-packed lessons and leave your child no classroom time for revising the concepts they’ve learnt.  

Skills versus content

It’s important to balance your scheme of work between delivering content and facts to your child and teaching them transferable and valuable skills. It’s no use knowing everything under the sun (unless your planning on joining Master Mind as a contestant to becoming the world’s Trivial Pursuit champion) if you don’t also have the skills to transfer that information into other contexts and the ability to draw your own conclusions and problem solve elsewhere in life.

When it comes to teaching tangible skills (for example, telling the time) think about what content and knowledge you need to impart, in order for your child to achieve that skill (i.e. that there are 24 hours in a day) and ensure that both needs are met in your planning. Another example is consolidating your GCSE child’s ability to use apostrophes accurately and choosing to do so through the context of a newspaper article.

And remember, here at EdPlace we're here to help your child learn and practise those tangible skills through our interactive activities and worksheets. Our mission is to help your child succeed! Test out our subjects and activities below to see for yourself. 

English Maths Science