Revealing the big picture: patterns, shapes and images at Key Stage 3.


By Steven Barnes, published 31st May 2002

It is easy enough to incorporate overview and depth studies into a scheme-of-work. Units are carved up into those topics that last for several weeks and those that are covered in one. Isn’t that enough to satisfy the requirements of the National Curriculum? Many teachers have gone much further than this, however, and have developed more sophisticated approaches which ensure that depth and overview studies reinforce and extend each other. Michael Riley has previously exemplified this by proposing a number of different possible models, each of which give particular consideration to the positioning of overview and depth in order to maximise the relationship between the two. Building on this work and that of others such as Dale Banham, Steven Barnes proposes a model in which the overview ‘frames’ the entire unit and enables pupils to grasp some of the essential characteristics of the period as a whole. His aim is for pupils to be able to hold different aspects of a period in their minds simultaneously, enabling them to make connections and reach overall conclusions to big questions about progress and change. Whatever the model, the key is to know what the relationship between overview and depth is and precisely how this develops pupils’ understanding in a distinctive way.

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