Oak National Academy

Curriculum planning

8 November 2022

How to design a unit of study

Chris Fountain

Subject Lead (English)

Are you designing a unit of study from scratch or updating one you already have? It can be hard to know where to start. We’re sharing six steps to inspire and inform the way you design coherent and purposeful units for your pupils. Watch our short video and download our free quick guide to use in your planning.

Follow these steps to:

  • identify the most important content for supporting you to meet your curriculum aims;
  • sequence the content into a logical unit plan; and,
  • create effective lesson resources.

Video guide

We’ve broken down the approach we take into six steps. Watch Chris Fountain from our Education team explain in what you should consider at each stage of the process, in this quick six minute video.

Six steps to design a unit of study

  1. Identify the unit’s intended outcome
    Start at the end. Decide what you want pupils to know and be able to do by the end of the unit.
  2. Place the unit within your existing curriculum
    Find units within your existing curriculum that closely match your new unit, so you can make sure knowledge and ideas develop sequentially and logically.
  3. Decide on the unit’s core content and vocabulary
    Write down the key learning points, tier 2 and tier 3 vocabulary that pupils need to learn so you can make sure it’s incorporated.
  4. Sequence the content and create a unit plan
    Work out how many lessons you have available to teach the unit and put together a plan that lists each lesson in a sequence.
  5. Create the lesson resources in blocks
    It helps to create the lesson resources in blocks of three or four, so you can create consistency and links between them.
  6. Review and iterate
    Each time the unit is taught, gather feedback from the teachers and then iterate the unit to reflect the feedback.

Download our free quick guide

Access our free quick guide. It includes prompt questions for each of the steps, which you can use to guide your next planning session.

Save the document to your Google Drive by clicking on File > Make a copy. Or download a copy by clicking on File > Download.

Download our quick guide

Looking for more support?

Take a look at our guidance on designing a subject curriculum and refreshing your curriculum using Oak resources.

For more inspiration, explore our curriculum maps to learn about the six curriculum principles that guide our lesson and curriculum design. You can also search our thousands of free, adaptable lesson resources on the Teacher Hub.