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Curriculum vs. Scheme of Work — What's the Difference?

By Tayyaba Rehman & Urooj Arif — Published on February 24, 2024
Curriculum is the overall educational goals, and learning outcomes for a course or program, focusing on what is to be taught. While scheme of work details how the curriculum will be delivered, focusing on how teaching is planned over a specific period.
Curriculum vs. Scheme of Work — What's the Difference?

Difference Between Curriculum and Scheme of Work


Key Differences

The curriculum serves as a broad framework that defines the educational content and objectives across a course or educational program. It encompasses the skills, knowledge, and attitudes that learners are expected to acquire. The curriculum sets the direction and goals of an educational journey, including the subjects to be covered, the competencies to be developed, and the standards to be met. It is often developed at a national or institutional level to ensure a consistent educational experience that aligns with broader educational goals and societal needs.
A scheme of work, on the other hand, is a more detailed, practical document created by educators to implement the curriculum in a specific context. It breaks down the curriculum into manageable segments, planning the delivery of lessons over a term, semester, or academic year. The scheme of work includes specific lesson objectives, teaching activities, resources needed, assessment methods, and a timeline. It is tailored to the unique needs of the learners and the resources available to the teacher, providing a roadmap for daily teaching activities and ensuring that the curriculum's goals are met over the designated period.
The curriculum outlines what needs to be learned, the scheme of work translates these requirements into a structured plan for teaching and learning. In contrast, the curriculum provides the vision and end goals, whereas the scheme of work outlines the step-by-step process to achieve these goals, including methodologies, pedagogical strategies, and assessment criteria. This distinction highlights the complementary nature of these documents in the educational planning and delivery process.
Both the curriculum and the scheme of work are essential for effective education management. The curriculum ensures that teaching aligns with educational standards and learner needs, while the scheme of work operationalizes these standards into actionable, context-specific teaching plans. Together, they ensure that education is both purposeful and adaptable, capable of meeting learners' needs while achieving broader educational objectives.

Comparison Chart


A framework outlining educational goals, content, and standards.
A detailed plan for how the curriculum will be taught.


What is to be taught (content and outcomes).
How and when the curriculum content is delivered.


Broad, covering a course or educational program.
Detailed, covering specific periods like terms or semesters.


Developed at a national or institutional level.
Created by educators based on the curriculum.


Subjects, skills, competencies, standards.
Lesson objectives, activities, resources, timeline, assessment methods.

Compare with Definitions


A comprehensive plan for an educational or training program.
The national science curriculum outlines essential concepts and skills students must learn.

Scheme of Work

Organizes teaching content over a set period.
The scheme outlines a week-by-week progression for covering key topics.


Sets standards for evaluation and achievement.
The curriculum sets benchmarks for reading proficiency by third grade.

Scheme of Work

Specifies resources and activities for each lesson.
The scheme includes multimedia resources for interactive learning.


Reflects educational goals and societal needs.
The updated curriculum incorporates environmental studies to address climate change awareness.

Scheme of Work

A detailed teaching plan derived from the curriculum.
The scheme of work for algebra sequences lessons for the first term.


Guides the overall educational strategy.
The curriculum for vocational training aligns with industry requirements to ensure employability.

Scheme of Work

Tailors the curriculum to specific learner needs.
Adaptations in the scheme of work accommodate diverse learning styles.


Defines the objectives and content of education.
The curriculum includes a focus on digital literacy for all high school students.

Scheme of Work

Aligns lessons with assessment strategies.
Each unit in the scheme of work ends with formative assessments to gauge understanding.


All the courses of study offered by an educational institution.


A group of related courses, often in a special field of study
The engineering curriculum.

Common Curiosities

What is the primary purpose of a curriculum?

To define the educational goals, content, standards, and learning outcomes for a course or educational program.

Why is the curriculum considered a broad framework?

It encompasses the overall goals and standards for education across a wide range of subjects and skills, without detailing specific teaching methods.

Can a scheme of work vary between teachers?

Yes, while based on the same curriculum, schemes of work can be adapted by individual teachers to suit the learning needs and contexts of their students.

How does a scheme of work support teachers?

It provides a detailed, practical guide for daily teaching activities, including lesson planning, resources, and timelines.

How do educational policies influence the curriculum?

Policies set by governments or educational authorities dictate curriculum standards, including what subjects are taught and the competencies students must achieve.

How often is a scheme of work updated?

It is typically updated each academic year or term to reflect changes in the curriculum, educational resources, and learner needs.

What's the impact of technology on curriculum development?

Technology influences curriculum development by introducing new subjects (e.g., coding), teaching methods, and learning tools, requiring updates to ensure relevancy.

How does a scheme of work enhance student learning?

By organizing the curriculum content into manageable and coherent segments, it ensures a structured and gradual learning process.

Can the curriculum influence societal change?

Yes, by incorporating contemporary issues and skills, such as sustainability or digital literacy, the curriculum can reflect and promote societal needs and values.

What is the relationship between the curriculum and educational standards?

The curriculum is designed to meet or exceed established educational standards, ensuring that learners achieve desired competencies and knowledge.

What role do parents play in the curriculum?

Parents may provide feedback, support learning at home, and engage in school decisions, influencing curriculum relevance and application.

How is a scheme of work evaluated for effectiveness?

Through student performance, feedback from teachers and students, and assessment outcomes, evaluating if learning objectives are met.

Who develops the curriculum?

Curricula are usually developed by educational authorities, institutions, or boards at a national or institutional level.

What role do assessment methods play in a scheme of work?

They ensure that learning objectives are met and provide feedback on student progress and understanding, guiding future teaching strategies.

How do curricula address the needs of a multicultural student body?

By incorporating diverse perspectives, histories, and cultures, curricula aim to be inclusive and relevant to a wide range of backgrounds.

What considerations are made when designing a curriculum for special education?

It includes adaptability for diverse needs, accessibility, and individualized learning objectives to ensure all students can achieve educational outcomes.

Can a scheme of work be used across different schools?

While it can be adapted for use in different schools, customization may be necessary to address specific local conditions, resources, and student demographics.

How does a scheme of work accommodate different learning styles?

It includes a variety of teaching methods and resources, such as visual aids, group work, and hands-on activities, to cater to diverse learner preferences.

Why is flexibility important in a scheme of work?

Flexibility allows teachers to adjust the pacing, resources, and methodologies based on student progress, feedback, and unforeseen challenges.

What challenges are faced in curriculum development for rapidly changing fields?

Keeping content current, integrating new skills and knowledge, and ensuring teachers are up-to-date pose significant challenges.

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Author Spotlight

Written by
Tayyaba Rehman
Tayyaba Rehman is a distinguished writer, currently serving as a primary contributor to As a researcher in semantics and etymology, Tayyaba's passion for the complexity of languages and their distinctions has found a perfect home on the platform. Tayyaba delves into the intricacies of language, distinguishing between commonly confused words and phrases, thereby providing clarity for readers worldwide.
Co-written by
Urooj Arif
Urooj is a skilled content writer at Ask Difference, known for her exceptional ability to simplify complex topics into engaging and informative content. With a passion for research and a flair for clear, concise writing, she consistently delivers articles that resonate with our diverse audience.

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