GCSE Mister Pip – what is context and how is it useful?

Reading Time: 4 minutes One of the biggest problems with this novel at GCSE is often exploring the context of it. When you’re studying it for AQA’s Literature exam, it can seem like a difficult bit of the mark-scheme to hit. Mister Pip is an option on the same list as Of Mice and Men, and To Kill a Mockingbird. Both those books have a lot of stuff online about them, but the benefit of doing Mister Pip is that it is less common – which means there’s more opportunity to interest an examiner with something new. Context is the social, cultural, and historical …

Winter Swans – an exploration of one of my favourites

Reading Time: 5 minutes I’m teaching the new AQA GCSE anthology at the moment, and it has Winter Swans in, which is one of my favourite poems from Sheers’ collection. So I figured I’d set down some thoughts on it. Winter Swans On initial reading, the poem isn’t overly complex – the story of a couple whose relationship is undergoing some turbulent times but, but the end of the poem, they experience a brief interlude of calm. Sheer’s imagery of the swan has been criticised as being slightly heavy handed in some reviews of the collection – the dialogue in particular, of the lover …