Tag Archive: teachers

  1. Top Tips for Revising English Literature Anthology Poetry

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    If there is one component of the GCSE English Literature course that fills most students with dread, it’s the Anthology Poetry unit.

    And to be perfectly honest, it’s not hard to see why.

    If you are studying the AQA course, there are 15 poems to study; for Eduqas things are even more challenging with a whopping 18 to get through.

    What Does the Exam Question Ask Students to do?

    When it comes down to it in the actual exam, students will only ever have to write about two of these poems. One of the poems you have studied will be printed in the exam paper. You will need to write about this poem and then choose another poem you have studied to compare it with.

    But because you have no idea which poem will feature in the exam, there’s no way you can cut corners in any way. You really need to study all the poems.

    That might not sound too bad…

    Until you remember that you are not allowed to take an anthology into the exam!

    In days gone by, students could take their annotated anthology into the exam. Then, for a few years, students were given a ‘clean’ unannotated anthology. Now, since 2015, students are not allowed to have an anthology in the exam at all.

    This means that essentially this component has become little more than a test of a student’s memory.

    But All is Not Lost!

    Fear not though, all is not lost.

    While there isn’t a simple hack or way of avoiding the fact that you are going to have to remember a load of quotes, there is a way of focusing your revision, so that you just concentrate on the really important stuff.

    So, here goes:

    1. You should be able to summarise each poem in a sentence or two. Even better, narrow it down to a couple of key words/themes.
    2. Choose a key quote for each poem. Approach this as if you could only use one quote per poem – the absolute best one – that sums up the whole message of the poem.
    3. Try to learn another 4 (minimum) important quotes. Aim for quotes that cover a range of ideas – not just 4 quotes that basically say the same thing.
    4. Identify one of two methods – poetic devices, language, or structure – that each poet uses to get their ideas across.
    5. Identify which poems go well together and provide the best comparisons.

    Follow the above 5 steps and you will be well-prepared for the demands of the exam question.

    Finally, bear in mind this last point…

    When it comes down to quotes, it’s never simply about how many you have got. The most important thing is what you do with them. Make your quotes work for you. They should never be more than a line long – and if you can narrow them down to a few words – or even just one word – all the better. They will be a lot easier to remember this way, and you will dazzle the examiner with your understanding of the most important words that a poet has used.

    You can do this! – And with that we will leave you with 5 more tips for the secret to success during exams.

  2. How to Instil the Importance of Exams Upon Your Students

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    How do you instil the importance of exams upon your students without putting the fear of God into them?

    This conundrum is one of the biggest challenges facing teachers today in the classroom.

    It’s a real problem because of 3 factors: the nature of teenage life, human nature in general, and the nature of schools.

    The Nature of Teenage Life

    Young people, it’s worth remembering, go through a lot of change and upheaval during their teenage years. Their bodies are developing; their emotions and minds are developing; and they are beginning to find themselves and their identity.

    There’s a lot going on, a lot to handle, and an awful lot to deal with during your teenage years.

    Not least the pressure of exams.

    Human Nature

    The psychology behind our actions and behaviour is extremely complex. However, when it comes down to it – in certain aspects – human nature is really straightforward.

    When we are faced with pressure, some people seem to thrive on it – even seeing it as some kind of incentive. In essence, we rise to the challenge.

    On the flipside, many of us seem to do the opposite when faced with pressure. We find it really difficult to cope with. In essence, we buckle under the challenge.

    That can manifest itself in several different ways. We might try to deny the importance of something or put off dealing with the issue head-on – kind of hoping that whatever it is that is causing us the pressure or stress will somehow magically go away.

    Which, of course, it never does.

    Part of our ability to deal with challenges in our lives comes from experience.

    This makes dealing with pressure especially challenging for teenagers. For more help understanding what’s going on inside the teenage brain, check out this BBC article.

    The Nature of Schools

    Schools exist under the lingering and looming threat of Ofsted. Not only that, schools are at also the mercy of government decisions and education budgets. All of this piles pressure onto schools.

    Under constant pressure to continually improve exam results, the pressure school leadership teams feel feeds down to curriculum team and subject leaders. This, in turn, is passed onto classroom teachers.

    And – you’ve guessed it – teachers then pass this pressure down to their students.

    Teachers are feeling it, so the students they teach feel it too.

    It is a vicious cycle that needs to be broken.

    So, What’s the Solution?

    In all honesty, there are probably at least another couple of blogs waiting to get out (possibly even a book!) on this topic. We’ve actually posted another blog ourselves on the matter. But to keep things short and sweet here, let’s leave it with this:

    Just because exams are important doesn’t mean that we have to talk about them all the time.

    We don’t have to mention exams in every lesson or every assembly.

    Learning, exam preparation, and performance in exams all have a process. Refine those processes and have faith in them.

    Think how an athlete responds after a disappointing result or performance. They don’t panic or make any knee-jerk reactions; they trust in the process that got them there in the first place.

    Trust in the process is the key.

  3. Why is PPA Time Important on a Teacher’s Timetable?

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    It doesn’t really matter what stage of their career they are at – PGCE student or veteran with 20 years of experience in the classroom – all teachers will agree on one thing…

    There is just simply never enough time!

    There is never enough time to do all the work you have to do. There’s never enough time to do all the work you think you have to do. And there’s definitely never enough time to do all the work you’d like to do.

    And it doesn’t matter how much you try to work smarter rather than harder.

    It never seems to make any difference.

    That’s why PPA time is so important on a teacher’s timetable.

    What is PPA and What is it for?

    Planning, preparation, and assessment (PPA). This time is a statutory entitlement for all teachers in England and Wales who work under the STPCD (School Teachers’ Pay and Conditions Document.) Therefore, it applies to most teachers who work in state schools.

    PPA time is non-contact time that is allocated on a teacher’s weekly timetable. The statutory requirement is that PPA should amount to at least 10% of their teaching timetable. The National Education Union has more resources on their website if you want to find out even more about PPA.

    During the allocated PPA time, teachers cannot be directed by school leaders or managers to do any particular tasks. Teachers should be free to use the time to plan lessons, mark work, or to catch-up on any other work.

    Why is PPA time so important in a teachers timetable?

    Hours that teachers work and the holidays they get have always been a source of misunderstanding among the general public – and misrepresentation in the media.

    Comments such as, ‘All the holidays teachers get!’ or ‘I wish I could just work from 9-3!’ echo in teachers’ ears.

    Only if you are a teacher yourself – or live with one – do you truly understand the number of hours that teachers have to put in outside the classroom.

    This is why PPA time is absolutely vital.

    The idea that all a teacher’s planning, preparation, or marking can somehow be rattled off in a couple of PPA periods a week is an absolute nonsense.

    In reality, it isn’t even enough to scratch the surface.

    It’s also fair to say that the way PPA is delivered across the nation’s schools is inconsistent. Many schools do allocate more PPA time to their teachers than the statutory requirement. For those who do, this time is seen – as it should be – as absolutely sacrosanct.

    However, in some schools there is still an unwritten expectancy that ‘if duty calls’ then PPA time could be either taken away, rearranged – or that teachers might still be directed to do other tasks during their PPA time.

    All in all, though, while PPA time is not perfect and not enough… it is something.

    Yes, it only goes some way in lessening a teacher’s workload. However, it goes a long way in terms of its benefits for a teacher’s wellbeing. For more advice on how to better your wellbeing as a teacher, check out this blog post.

    Even if it just gives a teacher the opportunity to catch their breath during the hectic school day, PPA is well worth it.

  4. The Easter Holidays: Revise and Re-energise!

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    This year’s exam season is almost upon us: GCSE exams begin the week beginning 6 May, and AS/A levels kick in the week after. That leaves – at the time of writing – just 6 full weeks left before the exams begin. And, of course, 2 of those weeks are not weeks in school or college; they are the Easter holidays.

    And that’s the subject of our latest blog – the importance of making the most of the Easter holidays and of using the time to revise and re-energise.

    Making the Most of the Easter Holidays

    The Easter break really is – excuse the pun – a Godsend!

    After a full day at school or college, it’s difficult to do a significant amount of revision in the evening as well because students are bound to be tired.

    It’s also worth bearing in mind that once the exams have begun, they come thick and fast – and they really take it out of you, so revising during this period should be no more than a last chance to go over things; a last minute refresher and putting the proverbial final icing on the cake before each exam.

    This is why the Easter break is so important. It offers a run of full days that can be used to really knuckle down to some serious revising.

    Plan your time carefully and you’ll be able to achieve a lot during the two weeks. Looking for some extra help? Check out our blog post on how to make a revision schedule.

    Getting the Balance Right

    Not that we are advocating spending entire days revising for two weeks solid!

    That is absolutely not what you should be doing!

    Yes, as students start ‘the final push’, they are bound to up the ante a bit – but it is vital that students (and families) get the balance right between revision and relaxation.

    There’s a tendency to think that all the rewards and free time can come once all the exams are over.

    But, in a way, regular rewards are as important as regular revision.

    Do a Little a Lot… but do a lot of it!

    The general consensus about good exam revision advice is to revise a little a lot.

    Regular and frequent short chunks of revision are always going to be more effective than a 12-hour shift of non-stop revision. BBC bitesize has a helpful article on some top revision techniques to help you find a way of revising which works for you.

    And scheduling in little rewards and treats are important to keep the motivation going.

    You don’t want to feel completely knackered at the end of the Easter break; you want to feel re-energised!

    The Home Straight

    Once students return to school or college after the Easter break, they really are in the home straight. The start line will now be in sight.

    The Easter holiday provides an opportunity for a young person to take stock and assess where they are at in their various subjects.

    A few last minute tutoring sessions can often be just the thing to get you fully ‘match ready’.

    Sometimes, it’s a just a bit of tweaking, a fresh pair of eyes and a fresh face that can help solve any last minute worries, problems or concerns a student might have in a subject. Get in touch for a chat if you would like to book a tutor.

  5. What is PHSE?

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    PHSE – Personal Social & Health Education – has taken many forms and gone under several different names over the last 30 or so years in our schools.

    At various points over that time, it has been pushed to the fore of the curriculum. However, at times it has also been left for schools to ‘fit in somewhere’ – almost as an afterthought – onto the curriculum.

    However, one thing has remained constant: its genuine importance.

    Of course, exams and results matter. But they don’t guarantee your personal, social, emotional, and economic wellbeing – or your happiness.

    Life is a little bit more complicated than that!

    And that’s why PHSE is, was, and always will be a really important part of the school curriculum.

    PHSE might not be a compulsory exam subject, but you could argue that there is nothing more vital than supporting a young person’s personal, social, and emotional wellbeing.

    At the end of the day, is there anything more important than happiness and good health?

    Exactly. That’s why PHSE really matters.

    Why PHSE is important

    Although the fact can get lost sometimes under the relentless focus on exams, exams, and more exams, there has always been much more to schools than just results.

    Schools play a crucial role in young people’s personal, social, and emotional development. Not only that, but schools can also support children’s mental health. To find out more about supporting kids’ mental health in schools, check out our blog post on the matter.

    Emotional well-being and self-esteem should not be underestimated, not just during your school days but also in later life.

    A carefully planned PHSE curriculum delivered well in schools can go a long way in breaking down a young person’s self-limiting beliefs and perceptions. Such a mindset can seriously stifle aspirations and make it much harder to achieve.

    Happiness is the key

    Happiness in life trumps everything else.

    When you are happy, it is much easier to cope with the challenges of GCSEs. When you are happy, you are best placed to thrive in your chosen career. You are also far more likely to be able to build and maintain friendships and relationships.

    What brings you happiness is a complex question, and a lot will depend on the individual. However, a common denominator is confidence.

    Having confidence in yourself and who you are and the confidence to cope with anything that life throws at you will go a long way in bringing you happiness.

    And that’s another reason why PHSE is so important.

    No other element of the curriculum has such a focus on the developing ‘the whole person’.

    No other subject has the potential to future proof a young person for later life.

    Nothing else at school can help young people to develop the resilience, confidence, and emotional intelligence needed to lead a happy and successful life.

    The Talk is a new video learning platform aimed at providing teachers with all the information, tools and resources needed to deliver an engaging and modern PHSE syllabus.

    The Talk’s vision is to revolutionise the way PHSE education is delivered in schools. The platform is designed to teach young people essential skills for life through dynamic content.

  6. The Difference Between Learning Objectives and Outcomes

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    Learning Objectives and Learning Outcomes have been a fixture of most lessons in schools for close on thirty years now. But there is still a fair bit of confusion around what they are, how they are different, and why they are important.

    So, let’s try and make everything crystal clear!

    How Are Learning Objectives and Outcomes Different?

    In simple terms, an objective sets out the knowledge or skill that is being introduced, developed, and learned by students during the lesson.

    The outcome, meanwhile, is the work or evidence that the students will produce during the lesson. Typically, this is used to measure how effectively the objective has been met.

    Why are Learning Objectives Important?

    It is slightly punitive and unfair to judge the quality of a lesson on its shared learning objective. An appropriate and suitable learning objective has the power to bring all the elements of a quality lesson together.

    And many a lesson has lost its effectiveness because of an unclear or inappropriate learning objective.

    What Should a Learning Objective Include?

    To achieve consistency, many schools instruct their teachers to follow a particular model. Some will ask their staff to frame learning objectives in a certain way. Of course, this makes sense as it helps it to become familiar for the students.

    So, there are several possible ways that you can word a lesson or learning objective. And while it’s all just an issue of semantics, there are couple of non-negotiables when it comes to writing a good learning outcome.

    Firstly, a learning objective should focus purely on the learning that is going to occur in the lesson. Essentially, lessons should be focused of one of two things: knowledge or skills.

    If you want to understand more about which one to focus on, check out this helpful blog about balancing the two.

    Include anything else and it will be flannel, superfluous – and quite possibly unclear.

    Secondly, learning objectives should always be student-focused.

    An objective needs to be concise and accessible for all students. The aim is to make it clear to students the point of the lesson ahead.

    To this end, it’s always important to take time at the start of a lesson to introduce and explain the learning objective – especially if there are any specific key words or terminology to be covered in the lesson.

    Should Learning Objectives Be Measurable?

    Yes, and this is where the learning outcome comes in.

    If there is an objective or aim to any lesson, there must be some form of measurement to check that this has been achieved by the end of the lesson.

    Therefore, the learning outcome should measure the progress students have made towards meeting the learning objective.

    This means that the wording of a learning objective needs to be precise, focused, and really specific to the aspect of knowledge or the skill that the students need to know.

    The broader, more general, or less specific an objective is, the less effective the learning will be.

    Finally, a learning objective should never be task-driven. Studies around how we learn best indicate that an objective acts like a North star to help guide the learner. If you want to learn more about the science behind learning, check out this article.

    Therefore, the objectives are not the activities the students will complete during the lesson.

    The objective must come first, this should then be followed up with a sequence of activities that work together and help the students to achieve the objective.

    The tasks in the lesson should be seen as the implementation of the learning.

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