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A scheme of work is “a plan for something”. A teacher’s scheme of work is therefore his plan of action which should enable him/her to organise teaching activities ahead of time. It is a summarised forecast of work which the teacher considers adequate and appropriate for the class to cover within a given period from those topics which are already set in the syllabus.

A well prepared scheme of work should among other things:-

Give an overview of the total course content.

Provide for a sequential listing of learning tasks.

Show a relationship between content and support materials.

Provide a basis for: long range planning, training and evaluation of the course.
A scheme of work can be made to cover one week, one month, one term or even one year, depending on the duration of a given programme. Most programmes in our educational institutions take between one and four years. Each year is divided into 3 terms with each term lasting 3 months or 13 weeks. In such a case a scheme of work should be made for each term (13 weeks). Ideally schemes of work should be prepared before classes begin.


1. Understanding the syllabus.

The classroom teacher may not necessarily be involved in the initial stages of curriculum development, but (s)he is expected to interpret the curriculum and implement it correctly. This calls for a thorough understanding of the syllabus and the content, in order to achieve the stated objectives. The teacher is expected to act like a policeman or a judge who is called upon to administer the law though he did not make it. It is therefore very important that the teacher be thoroughly conversant with the curriculum in order to implement it successfully.

2. Preceding and succeeding syllabus content

In most cases topics from the syllabus may not be arranged in the order in which they are supposed to be taught. Some topics will require the knowledge of the previous ones while others are quite independent. The teacher should not only identify the essential learning content but also arrange the content in logical teaching order considering the proceeding and succeeding syllabus content.

Syllabus contents of related subject:

The mistake which many teachers make is to scheme for their subject without considering the contents of related subjects. This is very wrong and should be highly discouraged. Quite often the teaching of a given topic, in a given subject may be impeded by lack of skills or knowledge to be acquired in a different subject.
Existing scheme of work for the subject

If a scheme of work is already available for the subject, it would be a waste of effort and time for the teacher to break new ground again. In this case, the teacher can revise the existing scheme to suit his/her students and to bring it up to date.

Reference material and examination

The teacher should be familiar with reference material that is available for effective coverage of the topics in the scheme of work. There is nothing more disturbing than finding out that a topic that is already covered could have been more interesting, enjoyable and even better understood if certain materials or teaching aids that are available in school had been utilised. The type of examination the students are being prepared for should bear in mind that some levels require more revision time than others and therefore, scheme for revision appropriately.

Time estimation

Although there are 13 weeks in one term, it is not usually possible to use all these for effective teaching for a variety of reasons. For purposes of determining how much material can be covered in any given time, it would be misleading to assume that a subject requiring 9 periods per week has 6 x 13 periods available for teaching. The number of effective teaching periods varies according to both predictable and unpredictable interruptions. Effective teaching time must therefore be estimated before topics are selected. The most common interruptions that are likely to disrupt a scheme of work include:

Public Holidays

Examinations (should be schemed for) if they are internal

Revisions (should be schemed for)

Open days

Sports days

Planned school breaks e.g. mid-term break e.t.c.
The teacher/instructor should check with the administration of the school or Youth Polytechnic dates for such events before scheming. Although the new syllabuses under the 8-4-4 framework give time estimation for each topic, these should be taken as guidelines only. Finer adjustments need to be made depending on the time available for teaching.



Refers to the organisation/institution one is working or training in.


This refers to the subject being schemed which may be theory or practical. This refers to a particular term within a given year. Years may vary from organisation to organisation depending on time of entry.


Refers to the time the scheme of work is completed. This should be before instruction commences.


Due to overlapping or underplanning experienced during instruction or unforeseen interruptions, it is necessary to revise the scheme of work in order to accommodate the unexpected difficulties. This date should be indicated in the space provided in the form.


The topics in the syllabus needs to be rearranged in the order in which they are supposed to be taught. This is because some topics are build up e.g. before one learns to multiply he should have done additions, e.t.c. The syllabus topics should then follow that order.


Most organisations are specific in time allocation and each week should be spelt out in the week column. The numeral representing the week should be distinctly written centrally in the week column.

Weeks should be separated by a line running across the page especially when the same scheme of work form contains more than one week.


The subject may have one, two or more periods in one week. Some periods may be single, double or triple. Numbering of the period can take the form either ordinal or cardinal system. Ordinal systems refers to the order in which periods for that subject appear on the timetable. In either system, numbering should be done as reflected on the time table for that subject. A line, beginning from the column of periods should be drawn straight across the page to separate the periods. When two spaced periods are indicated on the timetable in the same day, then there should be two distinct rows for two periods. The numbering process should be repeated for the other weeks.


This should be clear and definite. The instructor should single out all the sub-topics/lesson titles in a particular syllabus topic. He should then estimate what sub topics/lesson titles will require a single period, double period or triple period, and then scheme accordingly.


Each sub-topic/lesson title should be followed by an objective(s) which is meant to pinpoint the anticipated learning behaviour of the learners. The specific nature of the sub-topic/lesson titles does not permit broad objectives which might not be realised by the end of that period. The objectives must be stated in such a manner that there is a measurable aspect manifested by the end of the lesson e.g. the lesson title Simple interest might have the objective – “students should be able to calculate simple interest on given principals using methods of (a) direct production, and (b) simple interest formula”. The lesson title conduction of heat in metals might have the objective – “trainees will be able to classify good and bad conductors of heat after carrying out the experiment, described in the worksheet 4”, e.t.c.


These are the central ideas which the teacher anticipated to use during the lesson. They are an elaboration of the sub-topic/lesson title. They form the backbone of the lesson. Keypoints should be stated in a specific, precise manner, preferably in form of phrases which conveys the full meaning intended.

Under no circumstances should key points be stated as activities or active in sense.


(Student activities, assignment, homework, practice).

For any concept learnt, the teacher would like to see his/her learners put it to practical use. In this column the teacher should think of specific activities that the learners will perform while in the class and Nos. 11, 12, 18 for homework, students will answer comprehension questions after reading the passage on page 35 or their class text book e.t.c. Applications must be designed in order to realise and consolidate concretely the objectives of the lesson.

(Tools Equipment, Apparatus, Chalk Board, Chart e.t.c.)

Resource materials for specific content coverage used in scheming are necessary and should be noted down with their relevant pages for ease in reference during lesson planning. References include books, handouts, worksheets, journals, reports, etc. It is necessary for the teacher to indicate the books, their authors and relevant pages. Teaching aids are an integral part of an effective lesson. Aids that the teacher intends to use should be indicated in the scheme of work. Teaching aids are usually in the form of apparatus, equipment, materials and of course the real thing if readily available and appropriate. The teacher should not indicate a teaching aid which will not be available in class.


Most teachers forget to include teaching aids in the scheme of work.



Remarks in the scheme of work should be made immediately the lesson is over. The teacher is supposed to indicate whether what was planned for the period has been covered, whether there was over planning or failure of lesson and reasons for either case, e.t.c. remarks suggested are meant to help the teacher in his consequent and future planning.

Remarks such as “excellent” “done”, “OK”, “well done”, “satisfactory”, “taught”, etc. might not be very useful to the teacher. Such remarks as “the lesson was not very well done because of inadequate teaching aids”, or “pupils were able to apply concept learnt in solving problems as evident from supervised practice”, e.t.c. are appropriate. After the remarks, it is necessary to write the date when this lesson was taught.

A Sample Frame for a scheme of work

Subject: ____

Year ____

Term ____

Name of Instructor:

Date of preparation:

Date of revision:



Unit/ period


Specific objectives



Learner’s activities

Teaching/ learning aids



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