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Case study: Sharing planning tasks in schools

Project outline

Middle leaders in 3 schools (primary, middle and secondary) brought together teams of teachers to plan lessons for the same subject areas.

Planning tasks were delegated to different team members.

  • designated departmental time was made available for shared planning, for example:
    • planning a new scheme of work
    • a department-wide approach to revision
  • cross-curricular ‘experts’ were given opportunities to prepare content in their areas of planning expertise, train others and share planning. Expertise areas are those of:

    • ‘starters’
    • ‘questioning’
    • ‘developing thinking’
    • ‘creative resources’
  • time was allocated for staff to develop systems for sharing and storing the results of shared planning online
  • shared planning interventions and initiatives were introduced alongside CPD, with regular opportunities for teachers to plan together

The process of shared planning

  1. The shared planning principles were outlined to all staff.
  2. Each department met in teams to agree the principles of a good lesson in their subject area and what each scheme of work should include.
  3. Heads of department delegated lessons to be planned within the SOW to individual teachers.
  4. These lessons were shared online – so in a department of 10 teachers you contribute 1 lesson and receive 9 in return.
  5. Once a lesson is uploaded, staff can tweak, personalise and update.


  • 85% of teachers said the project saved planning time
  • 95% of teachers said the project improved the quality of planning
  • 96% of teachers said the project encouraged departmental teamwork

Findings from the post-project questionnaire and interviews indicated the following outcomes:

  • it opened opportunities for non-threatening professional dialogue among staff, encouraged collaboration and departmental teamwork, improved the quality of planning, and saved planning time
  • it enabled teachers to use their skills in particular areas, while teachers who were not experts in the subject benefited from the expertise of colleagues with specialist knowledge
  • the dedicated time for planning allowed teachers to reflect on ‘the how’ as well as ‘the what’ of pupils’ learning. It encouraged teachers to reflect on the planning process and be open about the effectiveness of existing practices
  • a more uniform approach across many departments in terms of differentiation and the range of activities offered, and in the appearance of materials produced
  • staff also noted greater levels of pupil enjoyment, enthusiasm and motivation, and some pupils fed back to staff their improved enjoyment of lessons and greater understanding of the topics covered


  • opportunities for shared planning were limited where departments had only 1 member of staff, especially if there were no opportunities to work with colleagues from similar departments in other schools
  • it can be time consuming for department staff to reach a consensus with regard to what work to focus on, and the nature of the work that needs to be done to cater for pupils across the full range of availability
  • some staff overplanned in an attempt to ensure their colleagues had all potential levels of work covered in their lessons
  • the practicalities of dividing areas of planning fairly when they differ in degree of content and number of units can be problematic
  • teachers spent time personalising material to suit individual teaching styles and class profiles
  • some teachers experienced difficulty in following the original planner’s thinking and lesson transitional processes, thus reducing confidence in delivery

These challenges could be overcome by:

  • working together to adapt existing high quality curriculum materials with sequenced lesson planning
  • agreeing the fundamentals at the outset and making sure everyone understands the aims
  • being prepared to invest time in the early stages
  • making provision for staff in one-person departments to plan with colleagues elsewhere

Further information

Contact: Linda Buckle, deputy headteacher, at [email protected]

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