Towards a model of well-being in the English department

In September I take a step up to lead the department in which I’ve been second for two years. From personal experience and looking at the year ahead, one of my major areas of focus will be staff well-being. We have increased responsibilities, shrinking budgets, higher expectations and a highly pressurised timetable which includes a lot less planning time. It’s essential to take what steps we can to make the department an enjoyable place to work. Schools aren’t (take a deep breath!) only for the students. Happy, balanced and enjoyable work lives enable staff to do better jobs, no matter …

Women through the ages – a new scheme of work

Like many teachers I’m currently in the middle of planning for next year, with a bit more space to rethink the curriculum, and a comment from one of my Year 13 students has stayed with me. I think I’d written some feedback about avoiding generalisation regarding the representation of women  not treating Renaissance and Victorian women the same in her context-heavy essay – and she said that she didn’t really know the difference. She knew there was one, that women’ rights couldn’t have been completely stagnant until the early twentieth century, but didn’t have a strong grasp of what the …

Planning comparison essays for GCSE and A Level

One of the most difficult skills to do well is, I think, comparison, and it’s often what distinguishes really good writers – the ability to hold both texts together and weigh them against one another. This post explores some ways to plan a comparative answer – before you’re in the exam hall! I actually think the A-Level style of questions works better to prompt good, focused comparison – so let’s compare the two: GCSE: Explore the way Browning presents painful relationships in ‘Porphyria’s Lover’ and one other poem from the Relationships cluster. A-Level: Dystopian writing often portrays a bleak future …

How do I revise for English? Where to start, and a revision schedule.

As a teacher, I’m asked this almost constantly in the run-up to exams. There is a perception that English is a “skills subject” and therefore much more difficult to revise for compared to, say Biology or History. Although there’s a great deal of skill involved, there is a lot of knowledge needed for English exams; the “skill section” is in putting it all into practice.  I’m not sure if the question is a misunderstanding of this, or a sense of being overwhelmed with where to begin. I think it’s sometimes the latter, and so in this post I’ll look at a …

Revision tips plus guidance booklet to download

Re-read the set texts For some this is the longest bit! Re-read them, peeferably in full study mode making notes and annotations as you go. if you need to use some of the audio books – you can find most of the set texts on youtube or the BBC (radio 4 on the iplayer can be helpful!) and have someone read to you. Get your books in order They’re the best revision guide you can have. Go through, make sure your notes are thorough and detailed, you’ve filled any blanks and know what you were doing! Try highlighting the page …