Grammar for Unseen Poetry

Over the last few years of teaching, my understanding and application of ‘sentence starters’ has altered dramatically. Formerly, I saw them as a way to get students started on a piece of writing, to support someone through an extended response, or as a crutch to for students to fall back on. Whilst sentence starters can…

You can do a lot in 10 minutes

I think I’m on fairly safe, uncontested ground to claim that kids who can read better tend to do better in their GCSES. Whilst this seems obvious in English, I think the same is probably true across the whole curriculum. Indeed, there was an EEF report at the start of the year suggesting that improving reading…

Knowledge, Skills and Whole Class Feedback

There can’t be many ideas or initiatives that have saved more teachers more time than whole class feedback. Whether using a specific pro-forma, or taking notes on the closest available piece of scrap paper, focussing on actually reading a set of exercise books and identifying misconceptions rather than writing lots of formative comments relieves much of…

Rules for Novice Writers

With only one exception, I’ve taught year 7 for every year in my career. This may not seem very remarkable in itself, but as a head of faculty, there is often pressure to teach only exam classes, or mostly KS4. But not for me. Every year I make sure, if possible, that I have some…

Literature Revision and the Art of Giving Spoilers

As a linguistics graduate, I’ve had to work hard trying to catch up with the wealth of literature subject knowledge most of my colleagues possess. Luckily for me, when I ask about an interpretation of a poem, or a movement in English Literature, they are happy to tell me what they think. Sometimes they share factual, historical…

Reclaiming Learning Objectives

I’ve been wanting to write a blog about learning objectives for some time.  Whilst I think they can be a useful tool for teachers and students, they can easily be done badly. Certainly within English, they are prone to the type of genericism that undermines any shred of usefulness. There’s also no doubt that learning objectives have been complicit in…

What’s the Point of English?

What follows is a conversation between me and two year 11 students at school. It happened during a weekly lunchtime intervention session, where we feed the students tea, toast, and sandwiches. We also talk about their progress and help them plan their revision and study time. This conversation was about the ‘point’ of English. I’ve…