The QCA Key Stage 3 schemes of work:
their significance

Context
Though RE remains a responsibility of the local education authority, there has been an increasing move in recent times to issue nationally produced material that can be used locally.

During the Summer Term 2000, the Qualifications and Curriculum Authority (QCA) distributed a number of documents related to RE: non-statutory guidance on RE, exemplar schemes of work for Key Stages 1 and 2, and exemplar schemes of work for Key Stage 3. Each document was careful to stress that guidance was to be interpreted within the context of the local agreed syllabus: this new material was not meant to supplant it.

(NB The cover pictures for both exemplar schemes of work folders were taken in Redbridge schools: Key Stage 1 and 2 at Barley Lane Primary School and Key Stage 3 at Beal High School.)

One of the consultants used to prepare material for the Key Stage 3 exemplar schemes of work folder was Claire Clinton, one time head of RE at Davenant School, Essex.

Claire attended the September 2000 meeting of Redbridge secondary RE teachers and talked about the significance of the Key Stage 3 publication. We are grateful to her for permission to reproduce her notes on the website.

Notes provided by Claire Clinton

NB The ideas expressed here are those of Claire Clinton and should not be taken to express the 'Redbridge position'

  1. The material in the Key Stage 3 exemplar scheme of work folder was written by a variety of teachers, and then commented on by more teachers, inspectors, advisors, lecturers, and QCA/DFEE/OFSTED officials. These units therefore bring together a wealth of expertise and experience.

  2. The scheme of work is not a perfect model of how always to teach RE, but I do believe that it is helpful to us as teachers as it gives us an example of what is expected

  3. I think that there are two main purposes to the document:
    • to give us an example of what our own schemes of work should look like in school;
    • to illustrate the levels that QCA/DFEE/OFSTED are looking for pupils to achieve in RE at Key Stage 3.

  4. The scheme of work is not compulsory. You can choose to take as much or as little as you want from the document. However, even if you take none of the examples from the scheme, you would be sensible to at least ensure that you own scheme has used ideas from it.

  5. Your scheme of work must deliver your locally agreed syllabus. This may well place restrictions on what you can use from the QCA scheme.

  6. The QCA schemes of work are seeking to stretch us as teachers, as well as our pupils. The new QCA push is to raise standards at Key Stage 3 throughout all subjects so if, as you read the unit examples, you think 'well my pupils couldn't do that', don't worry. QCA's thinking is that all teachers will if appropriate simplify work to suit their pupils in these exemplar schemes of work.

  7. I think that, as the vast majority of junior and primary schools take on the QCA model, we at Key Stage 3 need to be aware of what the pupils will have covered at Key Stages 1 and 2. We will turn our pupils off RE if we are simply going over what they have already done. There was an interesting article by Barbara Wintersgill HMI in the Summer 2000 edition of the PCfRE publication Resource on Task-setting in RE at Key Stage 3 compared with English and History. If you haven't read it I would advise you to as it does make you think about whether we are asking enough of pupils in our subject.

  8. In the scheme of work there are:
    • gaps called 'school designed units'. These were placed in so that a school could include mandatory requirements from their local agreed syllabus;
    • 'generic units'. These are used as a way to present a unit the theme of which would be relevant to a number of religions. The generic unit gives the core ideas that could be worked upon in order to write a new unit.

  9. One of the most helpful things that the scheme of work provide is concrete examples of what 'learning objectives' and 'learning outcomes' are. I found these hard to write these at first, but I am so glad that I had to write them, as I have learnt so much about planning my lessons and thinking about what I want the pupils to achieve - not just know!

  10. If I were to say anything negative about the Key Stage 3 schemes of work it would be that:
    • there was very small time in which they had to be written, reviewed and changed. With more time, the consultation process could have been more meaningful and the standards within the document improved, but the DFEE gave all subjects very little time;
    • I do not feel that a scheme of work like this can really include best practice RE as, when pupils engage in the subject, so often we cannot measure and assess what they do or think.

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