Sequencing the curriculum: Shakespeare

Reading Time: 6 minutes In a series of posts I’m going to explore the way our curriculum currently works including the rationales behind it. Our curriculum model is our progress model. Context: I work in a high performing, academically selective girls school with a comprehensive sixth form intake. The last four years we’ve seen a significant shift in intake towards an area of high deprivation, higher numbers of ethnic minority students, and higher numbers of students with additional needs. The English department teaches Media and Drama tk GCSE, but we don’t have allocated discrete lessons for these subjects at KS3. The outline: Year 7: The …

Lessons on one word – Macbeth and ‘Hands’

Reading Time: 7 minutes At the beginning of the play, “Hands” is a word used to refer to Macbeth’s brutal – but legitimate – killing of the Thane of Cawdor who “‘ne’er shook hands” (1.1), symbolic of his lack of gentlemanly behaviour and loyalty in participating in rebellion – a theme of ‘hands’ throughout the play.

A radical opportunity (or, if I were EdSec…)

Reading Time: 3 minutes I’d love to see what other peoples’ thoughts are on the below…I’m sure we’ve all had that thought ‘if I were…). On this occasion, I’m playing ‘If I were education secretary’! There’s been a lot of horrible, scarring things over the last year. But the constant Whitehall narrative of ‘catch up’ and ‘return to normal’ is missing a huge opportunity for a radical rethink of education. What about if, instead of spending a few million on printable resources and tutorign, we did something else instead? Scrap GCSEs for good. Moving to a leaver’s age of 18 should have been the …

The rhythms of a school year matter

Reading Time: 3 minutes The rhythms of a school year really matter. This year, they’ve totally disappeared – for me, right now, being on maternity leave where I’m currently away for the longest I ever have been. And for everyone else with home learning and repeated isolations. But the government announcements through t the last academic year and a half demonstrate that they have no idea how tightly structured those rhythms are. September brings the hope and promise of a new year. It’s a new planner, clean pencil case, pens with lids intact, fresh books. Everyone gets a new start (which is why we …

Developing context in the pre-1900 question – Rossetti and A Doll’s House

Reading Time: 5 minutes Sometimes my students probably think I’m either a sadistic, a bit loopy, or both. I LOVE this question from the OCR comparative pre-1900 paper: Endings are always, in some sense, artificial.’ In the light of this view, consider ways in which writers conclude their work. And the reason I love it is because it’s SO GOOD for teaching them how to address the balance of assessment objectives. It’s so easy with this question to ignore the fact that it’s 50% context. There’s an OCR blog that explores what context actually is in more detail, including some examples and this nifty …

Manageable revision – Rossetti and A Doll’s House

Reading Time: 3 minutes Been thinking about a few different strategies for A-Level recently, but one lesson I think is really valuable in prepping revision techniques is this one. Here’s a list of 60 comparative questions (OCR, pre-1900 drama and poetry) Put them on separate cards (or get students to cut them up first) Get them to categorise into themes e.g. love, death, power, gender Discuss. It’s great. It’s the only ‘card sort’ type thing I ever do, but why it works so well is it really crystallises their exam preparation. This isn’t a teaching the texts and concepts lesson; it’s pure exam/revision technique. It’s …