Category Archives: English

What can you practise in English lessons?

Over my last two posts I’ve argued that, contrary to popular opinion, English is not a ‘skills based’ subject. In fact, what appear to be skills are actually composed on many thousands

Castle Shakespeare: Why study the Bard?

Let me give you, let me share with you, the City of Invention. For what novelists do… is to build the Houses of the Imagination, and where houses cluster together there is

Are ‘closed book’ examinations a bad idea?

Changes to the GCSE English Literature specifications are, apparently, starting to bite. As well as abandoning the modular approach to assessment in which students sat 2 separate modular exams and completed an

“There are no wrong answers!”

Along with, “It’s a skills based subject,” the cry that there are no wrong answers in English is, I think pretty unhelpful. Take the example of teaching Priestley’s perennial, An Inspector Calls.

Improving critical reading through comparative judgement

The following is a guest blog from Dr Chris Wheadon of No More Marking. The reformed GCSEs in English present new challenges for pupils in critical reading and comprehension. Teachers across the

Cargo cult teaching, cargo cult learning

…it is the peculiar and perpetual error of the human understanding to be more moved and excited by affirmatives than by negatives… Francis Bacon, Novum Organum, Aphorism, 1620 Cargo cults grew up on

Comparison is easy

The basis for poetry and scientific discovery is the ability to comprehend the unlike in the like and the like in the unlike. Jacob Bronowski Judging the quality of a thing in

Essay writing: style and substance

You have such strong words at command, that they make the smallest argument seem formidable. George Eliot As with most subjects, the step up from GCSE to A level English literature is

researchED English & Literacy Conference

A few months ago I asked Tom Bennett if he’d be up for rubberstamping some sort of rEDx project (like TEDx but with brains) devoted to exploring the intersection between education research

Using Threshold Concepts to design a KS4 English curriculum

The big change a-coming for curriculum design is that the final vestiges of modularity will soon have been licked clean from the assessment spoon; from September it will linearity all the way. Many

How can we increase breadth and challenge?

Over the past few days as sorry tale has unfolded. The new GCSE English literature specifications have been announced in draft form, full of sound and fury, signifying… nothing. The current GCSE

Wanna play fantasy GCSE Literature specifications?

The exam boards have played their hands and they’re relying on jokers rather than aces. GCSE English literature is a race to the bottom: with the overwhelming concern seemingly being how to retain schools’ business