Why do we teach Science and the majority of our Foundation Subjects in blocks?
At Seaside, in the 2018 – 2019 academic year, we trialled the teaching of Science and the majority of our foundation subjects in blocks. Please see the Science and Foundation subject overview document in this folder to see how this has been organised for the 2019 – 2020 academic year.
There were a number of reasons why we chose to take explore this method of curriculum implementation. These are outlined below:
- Subject delivery was being hindered by the fact that time was having to be factored in for setting up and packing away activities. As a result of this, 60 minute sessions were often in effect no longer than 50 minutes.
- This meant that the planning for 60 minutes of learning was not always being consistently delivered and the curriculum for foundation subjects was sometimes not fully completed. This resulted in some outcomes being of a lower standard than we would have desired.
- Children found that just as they were beginning to use and apply new knowledge, skills and understanding, they were having to pack up and transfer their thinking and effort to a new curriculum area. This resulted in many consecutive sessions having to recap on what the children had learned the previous week. This slowed the pace of progress for the children and often made learning feel disjointed. This was particularly true for more practical subjects like Design and Technology and Science.
- Resourcing was often a challenge for teachers when having to juggle four or five different curriculum subjects in one day. It meant that often breaks and lunchtimes were spent setting up resources for the next session. This was felt to have a negative impact on staff workload and well-being.
- By blocking planning together for some foundation subjects, we have ensured that joint planning can be focused on by the whole teaching team when they have their joint PPA time every fortnight. This means that workload regarding planning has been reduced for teachers and it also means that there is absolute collaboration and equality of provision across each year group for the children. By planning in this way it enables those who have stronger knowledge to share it effectively at the planning stages with their colleagues.
Block teaching did not end up having the desired outcomes for all areas of the curriculum; some of these are outlined below:
- Whilst French was taught in blocks for 2018 – 2019, it was felt on reflection that the children would make greater progress if they were taught languages on a regular weekly basis. This enables children to practise new learning at home with their families before building on it the following week in school.
- PE has never been blocked and has a dedicated 120 minutes a week based on the children needing regular and consistent exercise every week.
- Due to practical reasons with hardware, it was not possible to teach and deliver ICT as a block. This remains taught on a weekly basis, being taught for 60 minutes each week.
Overall, through our teaching of Science and the majority of our Foundation Subjects in blocks, we feel that the children receive a more focused and immersive learning experience, one which enables their knowledge to become more deeply embedded as part of our Knowledge Led Curriculum.