Thematic Education

The concept behind teaching thematically is nothing new. However, in recent years the trend has been for schools to move towards teaching subjects independently of each other. We feel that teaching thematically has several big advantages:

  1. The national curriculum is very busy. The amount children are required to learn can seem daunting. However, if we teach thematically, we can be working on several areas at the same time. This allows us to spend more time looking at the quality of our teaching and learning, not just the quantity.
  2. When we weave subjects together into themes so that children don’t realise where one subject ends and another begins, they see how subjects are relevant and important and we reduce the chance that someone should decide they don’t like a subject.
  3. If children enjoy learning, and teachers enjoy teaching, then lessons are a lot more powerful, and memorable. By teaching thematically, teachers can build lessons around topics that they and their class are really interested in.

Teaching is an amazing profession, full of incredibly skilled people. However sometimes it can be hard for parents and carers to see what underpins a seemingly straight-forward lesson, which can make you worry that your child isn’t getting what they need. Our school has an ethos of working in partnership with parents. We believe for this to happen it is essential that you understand how our approach works in practice, as well as in theory!

So, how does thematic education work?

a)      The class teacher designs a scheme of work around a theme. For example, ‘The Enchanted Wood’, or ‘Space’. They will think about the children in their class and their needs and interests, as well as what is happening in the wider world that they might want to link to. They can also plan bigger activities, as they are not confined by what is possible in single lessons.

b)      The teacher maps the activities against the requirements of the National Curriculum, making sure that each theme covers all the parts needed. Where some parts can’t be covered, they are flagged for inclusion in the next theme or as a stand-alone topic (sometimes we will have special subject days, if needed). Every day must be interwoven with literacy, numeracy and communication skills, with some activities really focusing on those areas every day.

c)       The mapping exercise is checked by a senior teacher, who looks across the year group and the Key Stage to make sure that we are sharing learning and opportunities and that every child is involved in the best activities for their needs and interests, particularly thinking about children who may benefit from greater support or challenge. They will look at what extra resources might be needed. They also make sure that there is enough focus on the key skills to ensure children are making excellent progress.

d)      The class teacher uploads the plans to the Learning Management System, so that parents can see what themes are coming up and offer to contribute or help if they have relevant skills or ideas.

e)      Examples of work and comments about how the child has progressed will be uploaded to the Learning Management System so that everyone can see how they’ve been getting on. Parents, teachers and children can all add their comments and ideas for future activities.

Next page: Challenge Weeks