Is offering free GCSE lesson plans (Edexcel) good for science teaching?

I picked up a nice big glossy folder of GCSE information from Edexcel as I left school today.  Having heard the Chief Examiner speak at a conference recently, the pack offered no surprises as I flicked through.  However my attention was drawn to the following information (which I snapped with my phone):

lesson plans

Free plans for every lesson.  Yes, FREE PLANS FOR EVERY LESSON.  Whilst I can see that this could be a godsend for the busy teacher, I can’t help but feel that this is a bad move for the quality of science education as a whole.

When the QCA published schemes of work years ago, departments followed them for a variety of reasons.  Common reasons for following the centrally produced schemes included saving time, schemes safe from criticism from Ofsted, and having an inexperienced department.  Few schools followed them because they liked them.  Their main effect was to stifle creativity and push teachers towards delivering identical lessons regardless of area, school or setting.

My concern is that by publishing GCSE lesson plans examination companies are appealing to the same inexperienced, time pressed departments who want to play safe.  I worry that this will snuff out what little spark of creativity we have left in science education and mark a return in teaching centrally produced lesson plans (except this time they will be from the examination board rather than the QCA).

I hope that schools will take the opportunity to flick through the lesson plans and steal all the best bits for their own lessons, but will continue to embrace the opportunities for creative and individual teaching that our science education community badly needs.

I’d be interested to hear views from current science teachers, either for or against.  Please leave a comment below (no registration required) with your opinions.

4 thoughts on “Is offering free GCSE lesson plans (Edexcel) good for science teaching?”

  1. I will steal these straight away!
    I'm just not going to buy any, as the last lot we bought didn't match the spec and caused LOADS of problems 🙁

  2. but will you be taking them and lifting the best bits, tailoring them to your establishment, or will you just follow them straight out of the box? I'm hoping not the latter 🙂

  3. Hi

    Interesting post that I just caught (came to share some Btec resources).

    I think the whole premis of “free” lessons plans is flawed from the start. Surely as professionals, we tailor each and every learning experience for our young people?? How can a publisher create two whole years of lesson plans upfront?

    As a reflective practitioner and someone who wants to listen to children and react to their questions, the concept of planning anything in detail more than a couple of days up front makes me shudder.

    We need to teach what kids need to learn, not what a commercial enterprise thinks we should.

    Glen Gilchrist

    Head of Science – Newport High School
    01633 896728

    [email protected]

  4. Teachers complained that SATs tests narrowed the curriculum – won’t teaching lesson plans created by the exam boards for their own specifications narrow the syllabus even more?

    I’m always pleased to hear of schools that create their own schemes of work and resources – we have a fair few in Nottinghamshire that have done their own thing. There is hope yet for science education in England!

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