“You are going to be teaching the Year 9 social science course next year and although we have a programme, it really needs a revamp, so you can do whatever you want with it.”
… my Head of Faculty said to me this just before May half term last year, and initially I was so excited with the prospect. The opportunity to write my own course without a specification or programme of study being dictated to me, it’s a teachers dream, right? In some ways yes, but in others it was a little bit overwhelming.
The full version of this article was originally published in the November 2015 Edition of our UKEdMagazine
I was given a very open remit with this course. It needed to:
- Prepare the students for GCSE Sociology (which they will start after Easter of year 9)
- Be an introduction to all the social science subjects we teach in the school (sociology, psychology, law and politics)
- Engage and enthuse the students about social sciences.
Other than that, it was really up to me as to how I wanted the course to look. GULP – where do I start? I started by looking at what I want to include in the course in terms of my own teaching philosophy, which meant some form of project-based and research-based homework, which also links current affairs and the students own curiosity. I didn’t want the course to just be preparation for an exam in three years time; but it did need to do that as well, so I needed to think about the GCSE course and where the students needed to be at the start of that.
Therefore, my starting point was the GCSE sociology course to see what sort of skills they were going to need to be successful in that course. From this I was able to see the assessment objectives and decided on my assessment format. As the students would eventually be taking the GCSE examination I decided to stick with that exam format for my assessments, that way the students would get plenty of practice and be completely comfortable with the format before taking the exam.
I kept the same assessment objectives as the GCSE course:
- AO1 – Knowledge and Understanding,
- AO2 – Application
- AO3 – Evaluation
And I was very lucky in that my Head of Faculty and Department Fellow spent some time transferring these to the new 1-9 grading system which saved me a lot of time.
Next I looked at the content of the GCSE course, partly because I didn’t want to cover too much of that and then have it repeated in year 10 or 11, but also so that I could pick out some of the core elements that could be applied to all 4 of the social science subjects. It was during this process that I decided to take a thematic approach to the units. I didn’t want to have standalone units on each subject but rather have units which covered all 4 subjects but had a sociology slant as that is the GCSE that they are going to do.