Feel Good, Feel Better, Feel Wonderful

Keep ur mind in the vertical motion
Always looking up

Prince – Feel Good, Feel Better, Feel Wonderful – LotusFlow3r


Earlier in the year Jude Huton @judehunton  asked me to present at   which took place on 9th June. The following blog is par of my presentation and slides – without my waffle in between.  My talk was suitable for any subject or phase. If are a different subject teacher just replace the English resources for your own subject/key stage. I have split KS4 and KS3 strategies/interventions otherwise this blog will go on and on; you can read about KS4 here.

KS3 Interventions

I do need to state in advance I work in a small, private independent school and I fully understand that makes managing classes/students easier than in a large secondary.  As a department again we’ve seen significant progress with student standardised scores increasing dramatically through the specific starters and homework put in place.


The first issue I tackled was SPaG through starters. I created one starter per lesson with answers. The ppts are basic but all follow the same format – here’s an example of some of the starters I’ve put together:

ks3 startersks3 starters

ks3 starters

I create one per lesson, with answers. These have worked because:

  1. they form a routine for students
  2. they get students writing quickly, but accurately in a short time frame
  3. they get 5 SPaG questions (blue slide), then mark immediately (green slide)
  4. there’s consistency across classes, all use them.

How we will improve for 18/19 – students all purchase a small dictionary (and a grammar rulebook) at the start of year 7, but I’ve rarely seen them use them. By making some of the slides dictionary based students are forced to use them. The hope here is using a dictionary will become part of every English lesson. Something I rarely see at the moment.

Another issue I saw was some students finished the work quickly, then twiddled thumbs until others catch up. From Sept they will be encouraged to work from a grammar book until all students have completed the five tasks.  For some students teachers did print out the starters.

We want our students to learn more vocabulary – we all know this is key – to do this I’ve built some starters (see slide 3), which looks at 5 words for students to learn/answer questions on, in context. This is continued the next day, using the same 5 words (see slide 5) but different questions.


I’ve mimicked the weekly homework we set at KS4, for KS3. Students are given a piece of text to read, then have to answer anywhere between 6-14 multiple choice questions. These are saved on PDF and uploaded to our homework platform. Here’s an example of a piece of prose and a poem used:

KS3 homework

How we will improve for 18/19 – these homeworks have worked well. To improve for this year I will issue parents with a list of the homework titles so they can check homework/scores etc.

I’ve also created some Quizlet simple 5-word weekly spelling tests for years 7-9. If you haven’t used Quizlet get on it – it’s really easy to use:


You can have a little go on this ‘sample test’ I’ve put together: Test – 5 spellings 

Students can download the app and do these quickly on their phones! All the options from learn, test and match are just so easy to use. Note to use ‘spell’ you need to use a browser, not Quizlet app. I think these will prove very useful.

Once you create them, you can do any of the above – I’ve keyed in the words and meanings. I’ve limited to 5 words as we already have the comprehension homework.


We know students learn from a simple to complex order so our SOW need to reflect this. As a department we are revamping all our SOW to refelct the skills needed for KS4.

KS3 sow


All our SOW will have a Knowledge Organiser (fancy term for a glossary) with key terms we want our students to learn for that unit. These will be kept by students in simple folders and build up through the units/years.

KS3 KO.png

I’ve built these terms into Quizlet tests for homework and they’ve been built into the SOW individual lessons (gaps above are because I am still working on it!).  This means every student will learn the same regardless of teacher or ability (thanks Dawn @missdcox  ).  Terms are used in class (more dictionary work) and in homework and will build on each other into KS4.

A few other strategies I’m putting in place from September ’18:

  1. I’d like students to number lessons, that way ‘if’ a student is absent they can catch work up – easier for me to keep track of missed lessons.
  2. Students will be given a table to list their scores from both starters and homework (spelling and comprehension test). This means I can check any issues quickly and intervene early:



Finally – I asked my old SENCO from my previous school to give me details of their KS3 interventions, which were considered a strength of the school. This is what they did well:

– We arranged for all students with comprehension scores lower than 85 to be tested for their reading accuracy ability.

– If their reading accuracy standardised score is also lower than 85 they receive personalised phonics support to assist them. We have three groups in Year 7 and two in Year 8 and two in Year 9.

– They are tested each full term for reading accuracy. If they improve they go up a group or back to the literacy form, (I ran the literacy form).

– The weakest also have daily intervention for 50 minutes in small groups, no larger than 4, using a range of approaches including precision teaching.

– We also have vocabulary building interventions. Students work on a set number of words using games, rhymes to develop their knowledge, spelling and use of the word. These are measured using tests before and after new word groups.

(In an ideal world we would also offer support for those who have low reading comprehension abilities but this would probably create another three literacy groups.)

We also have study skills for those who still have weak literacy intervention.

After school reading club also takes place, simply reading. They are excused from homework for completing this.

This has been acknowledged by Ofsted as strong practice, they referenced it to catch up, we use SEN budget for this. Catch up funding covers all of those who haven’t met expected by the end of KS2, our reading assessments do not discriminate between those who scored above or below, it isn’t therefore specific to KS2 catch up fund, if that makes sense!


This blog links to our intervention and strategies in KS4 . You can read about our KS4 strategies and interventions here.

Thank you for reading!

Evaluation language

Help, tips and assistance for students. This blog is part of a range specifically for students and can be found, along with others, under Student GCSE Blogs.

AQA Paper 1 – Question 4 requires you to evaluate an extract. This means at the top band/level your exam board wants you to:

Shows perceptive and detailed evaluation:

  • Evaluates critically and in detail the effect(s) on the reader
  • Shows perceptive understanding of writer’s methods
  • Selects a judicious range of textual detail
  • Develops a convincing and critical response to the focus of the statement

This means you will need to use the following language:

Evaluative words and phrases


  • Effective.
  • Successful.
  • Clear.
  • Skilful.
  • Convincing.
  • Engaging.
  • Thought-provoking.

e.g. “The poet’s skilful use of metaphor…”


  • Effectively.
  • Successfully.
  • Clearly.
  • Skilfully.
  • Convincingly.

e.g. “The author clearly illustrates that…”


  • Conveys.
  • Suggests.
  • Emphasises.
  • Demonstrates.
  • Illustrates.
  • Makes it clear.
  • Makes it apparent.
  • Allows the reader/audience to understand…

e.g. “The playwright’s effective use of dialogue successfully demonstrates how…

Further evaluative language:

  • Inspiring
  • Perceptive
  • Powerful
  • Striking
  • Reflective
  • Imaginative
  • Profound
  • Challenging
  • Perplexing
  • Comprehensive
  • Valuable
  • Relevant
  • Thorough

Eg “The author challenges ….”


Thank you for reading!


With no more fruit 2 bear from its trees,

the Haze was finally broken

Prince  – “Deconstruction” – The Rainbow Children


Examiner Top Tips

Once the August result haze leaves English teachers up and down the country, what’s better than sitting down and working out what we did well, or not so well?

One such day I sat looking at our data and I chatted at length with my friend Becky Wood (@shadylady222). She had already begun deconstructing the AQA Examiner Reports for both language papers.

What Becky did, I think was pretty clever, she went through the reports and created an ‘at a glance’ top tips, and the key positive/negative points from the GCSE examiners report. These can then be used to inform teaching or as reminders for revision. I then offered to help by completing all matching resources for both literature papers/reports,

Becky does AQA (you can find them on her timeline on twitter).

I’ve created the Edexcel ones here:

Edexcel – June 2019

Examiners’ Report Summary – GCSE English Language 1EN0 01 – Paper 1

Examiners’ Report Summary – GCSE English Language 1EN0 02 – Paper 2

Examiners’ Report Summary – GCSE English Literature 1ET0 01 – Paper 1

Examiners’ Report Summary – GCSE English Literature 1ET0 01 – Paper 2

Examiners’ Report Summary – Edexcel Paper E Spoken Language Endorsement

Edexcel – June 2018

Examiners’ Report Summary – GCSE English Language 1EN0 01 – Paper 1

Examiners’ Report Summary – GCSE English Language 1EN0 02 – Paper 2

Examiners’ Report Summary – GCSE English Literature 1ET0 01 – Paper 1

Examiners’ Report Summary – GCSE English Literature 1ET0 01 – Paper 2

AQA 2017

AQA GCSE English Language Paper 1 (8700/1) Explorations in creative reading and writing

AQA GCSE English Language Paper 2 (8700/2) Writers’ viewpoints and perspectives

AQA GCSE English Literature Paper 1 (8702/1) Shakespeare and the 19th-century novel

AQA GCSE English Literature Paper 2 (8702/2) Modern texts and poetry


Thank you once again to Becky for the templates and idea!


Non-fiction Practice (a real one)!

Help, tips and assistance for students. This blog is part of a range specifically for students and can be found, along with others, under Student GCSE Blogs.

This wasn’t written by me but by a year 11 student at my school (A.Butler). He gave me permission to add to my blog as a Paper 2, Question 5 practice.

Paper 2 question 5 practice

‘Floods, earthquakes, hurricanes and landslides – we see more and more reports of environmental disasters affecting the world and its people every day’.

Write the text of a speech for a debate at your school/college in which you persuade young people to take more responsibility for protecting the environment.

Children torn away from the caring arms of their families; entire communities wiped from the face of the planet; villages and towns that have been centres of culture and trade for generations obliterated by our carelessness, our lack of respect, our failure to do our duty to other members of the human race, and the planet on which we all cling to those few  things that matter to us.

Natural disasters are of course phenomenon’s that can often be attributed to the workings of our planet. But in this day and age they are becoming more and more frequent, and causing more and more catastrophes and chaos. We must face up to the truth: disasters such as hurricanes and tornadoes are approximately 40 % more common in our time due to the actions of not just global corporations and national industries, but of the heartless, ignorant manner in which so many of us choose to live our lives today.

It is all too easy to point the finger of blame to developing countries with large populations such as China and India, or to the economic powerhouse that is the United States of America. However whilst these do of course have an undoubtedly huge effect on our environment (it would be foolish to suggest otherwise), it is the common people and citizens of countries around our fragile world that make the greatest impact.

Today I am beseeching that you all take into consideration the obvious fact that the choices you make today will have ever-lasting actions on those less-fortunate that have to suffer on a daily basis.  If you are all part of the new generation of people who are coming to this basic realisation, you will be improving the lives of millions, no, billions. Taking responsibility for your actions doesn’t require a life-time commitment, where you sacrifice your basic human rights in order to protect others, instead, something as simple as dealing with your litter correctly, using public transport, or avoiding cooking excess food can completely alter the lives of other that would otherwise have suffered by our common ignorance. If you take care of your litter, it would negate the need to landfill sites, which still plague our country to this day. Furthermore reducing the use of fast depleting natural resources, and limiting the use of electricity which is still on the whole produced by fossil fuels, all helps the limit the effects of climate change which causes the frequent natural disasters that cause so much suffering today.

My aim here today was not to dictate to you how you should live your own life, but to offer an insight into some of the consequences of failing to make minor, insignificant changes, that you could make to help our environment, and in turn helping others in their lives. I hope you can appreciate this speech and take away the knowledge that if you are just one of the thousands of others who are making new changes in their previously harmful lifestyles, you can make a real difference in our world. This is what I hope you can take from this, and I would ask that you makes small changes in your life, to make a huge difference in somebody else’s own less fortunate life.

Thank you for reading.


If I was marking this I’d put it in the top band.

AO5: 23 and AO6: 14.

Spelling is not quite perfect – and there is an errant apostrophe and a sentence or two! So lacking perfect control.

Also, AO5 says thanks for reading not quite top – you must remember context!



Resources (A-Level)

Help, tips and assistance for students. This blog is part of a range specifically for students and can be found, along with others, under Student Page – Index to Blogs / A-Level Help!

An at a glance (revision) list of new word formations

An at a glance (revision) list of theorists and ‘brief’ line of research area

AQA A-Level Exam breakdown crib sheet

An A-Level work book (revision)


It’s all coming back to me now, like it was deep in the ocean

Prince – Revelation – Hit N Run Phase Two

Once again my timeline was an angry one. Thankfully I did, however, get to read Sarah’s blog Speak for Yourself (Sarah Barker @ladybarkbark). Please read it. As always it’s spot on, something I am (biasedly) beginning to think is the ‘norm’ for many of Twitter’s #TeamEnglish and their views.

Why do we teach literature? It’s not just because it’s on the curriculum; I’ve always loved books. I vividly remember reading Hobson’s Choice and Kestrel for a Knave at school and not just loving them but also looking forward to the next installment in class. I don’t know why I loved reading as a teen, but I did. I loved the detail. Some brought me such joy I would often go back and read sections over and over.

In school through units – book, play, an anthology of poetry or short stories – students have access to literature that they’d never pick up on their own. And as such over the years we’ve been introduced to some truly phenomenal characters, for example, Doyle’s Sherlock Homes – the first great detective!

Stoker; he gave us Dracula and our love affair with monsters began.  Consider the impact and lasting effect Stoker’s villainous, supernatural and sensual character has had since we were first introduced to him “and holding out his hand grasped mine with a strength which made me wince, an effect which was not lessened by the fact that it seemed as cold as ice–more like the hand of a dead than a living man”.

I could talk about more of the great characters, settings, and themes we get to discuss in class up and down the country and fill this blog. I won’t, I will save that for another day.

I want to focus on one. My love for Shakespeare through just a few of his works I’ve taught in class, and why I wish I had more time to not only read a text cover to cover but to discuss his works in detail. I have taught plays from extracts (mainly) to KS3 and it doesn’t work.

Below is why I believe texts MUST be read in full. How can you discuss or even touch on certain themes, concepts and sophisticated analysis if you don’t?

Midsummer Night’s Dream

The play is complex and questions love and perception, where the characters experience metaphoric moments of blindness, insight and finally clarity mirroring the reality of dreams. The rational clarity of Athens appears finally to rule with calmness restored and Theseus puts the stories of the night down to vivid imaginations. Yet it is the fairies that get the last word blessing Athens’s future, once again showing their control in both worlds. Robin ends the play by reminding the audience that they’ve all had fun, and it was no more than a dream.


The play begins and ends with an attack against an established rule, with loyal nobility rewarded with new titles and with the execution of a rebellious Thane of Cawdor. Good is shown in the language through imagery, symbolism, and repetition building an order of nature. It is finally in the closing scenes that Macbeth begins to see life as deceitful and he couldn’t be any further, at this point, from his true self, when he gives his speech where every single word choice is poignant:

Tomorrow, and tomorrow, and tomorrow,
Creeps in this petty pace from day to day
To the last syllable of recorded time,
And all our yesterdays have lighted fools
The way to dusty death. Out, out, brief candle!
Life’s but a walking shadow, a poor player
That struts and frets his hour upon the stage
And then is heard no more. It is a tale
Told by an idiot, full of sound and fury,
Signifying nothing.

Antony and Cleopatra

Cleopatra through Plutarch is depicted as scheming, threatening and demanding ‘she carried nothing with her wherein she trusted more than in herself, and in the charms and enchantment’ (Brown and Johnson, 2000,p20), ultimately a woman who is Antony’s downfall, portrayed through her sexuality in a derogatory manner. Yet Shakespeare shows a woman who loves Antony, whilst upholding her erratic behaviour and constant need for reassurance ‘if it be love indeed, tell me hou much (1.1.14) and ‘sleep out this great gap of time/My Antony is away’ (1.5.5). Shakespeare creates terms for Cleopatra, spoken through other characters; Philo refers to her as ‘strumpet’ (1.1.13) and ‘gipsy’ (1.1.10), Caesar a ‘whore’ (3.6.67) and Macaenas a ‘trull’ (3.7.95). These descriptions from other characters has enabled the foundations of Plutarch’s text to remain, but the audience, spectators of all scenes, are able to see the obstacles and judgements this powerful and enigmatic Queen had to endure.

Twelfth Night

Twelfth Night, a comedy, offers a glimpse of how behaviours and identity are built and can rapidly dissolve according to social assumptions and dictates. Whilst Pequigney (2000,p218) convincingly argues the language points to a more significant undercurrent, it is Barber’s (2000,p208) more accurate observations that the play is simply a ‘temporary and playful’ view of Elizabethan love, friendship and courtship. The close analysis of expectations and acceptances of social structure and sexuality become irrelevant when, at the end of the festivities and merrymaking, order and relationships are restored.

Throughout the play the characters display unexplained or irrational behaviour through their choice of clothes or actions, however, the play has been structured this way for the amusement of the audience, who are continually reminded of the characters’ (and acceptable) ‘social norm’. The confusion and allusions to any desire are in place to add and build to the comic tension unfolding. What is apparent is any desire; homosexual or heterosexual is problematic when unrequited.

King Lear and The Tempest

William Shakespeare offered a Jacobean audience what appears to be contrasting father-daughter relationships in King Lear when compared to The Tempest, two plays written in a period of male domination, expectation and acceptance. Close text analysis into the characters of Lear and Prospero show they are both representations of old order wielding power with authority where they expect obedience from their daughters. Two plays with similar objectives, but with completely different outcomes.

Greenblatt (2008,p3055) illustrates near the close of King Lear, the ruined old king, stripped of the last vestiges of his power, dreams of being locked away happily in prison with his beloved Cordelia. Father and daughter have a more tragic fate in store for them, but Shakespeare returns to the dream in The Tempest. There is no need for forgiveness between Prospero and Miranda as there is no real conflict in their relationship. Both plays analyse the importance of loyalty, honour and obedience for Lear/Prospero from their daughters and power, property and inheritance for themselves. Prospero and Miranda offer the audience a relationship developed without any social constraints, the lack of outside influences on the island could attribute to Prospero’s ability to retain sanity, compassion, and forgiveness.

The Sonnets

My final choice for this blog is the Sonnets. Normally in a class, I’ve taught maybe half a dozen. And what a shame that is. They are both complicated and beautiful.

In an article Cheerful Girls and Willing Boys, MacInnes discusses an interest held during the Renaissance period by Elizabethans regarding age and mortality and how this interpretation helps with the understanding of Shakespeare’s Sonnets. The article centres on causes of the ageing body, alleviating old age and how these were related to the passions. MacInnes explains how Elizabethan and Jacobeans linked excessive, associated, passions and the ageing process. The article moves on to the different stages of the ageing process, or the ages of a man, and how they held certain social connections in literature, for example a young man was often presented as a soldier.

McInnes helps to modify Brown’s (2000,p43) article Shakespeare’s Sonnets which explores how the Sonnets have been interpreted over the years as complex representations of love and the love one experiences. Close text analysis shows how the language used through the Sonnets and McInnes’s article both unite the excessive passions such as joy, grief, and fear with the preoccupation of life. The article goes on to illustrate the need to show and actively pursue restraint with regards to the passions, in other words moderate passions were considered to extend mortality by strengthening the spirits through one’s maturity.

McInnes states how the Renaissance period characterised the passions through three main bodies; old man, young man and woman and these three representations fit the Sonnet’s sequence. The article also discusses how desire is neither homosexual nor heterosexual but “homo-social”. Social status and expectations, alongside the necessity for strong masculine bonds during the Renaissance period is detailed in McInnes’s analysis of the Sonnets. The article forms a new historicism and cultural materialism approach, highlighting the role the Sonnets could have held in supporting and creating Elizabethan values.

Teaching any text from extracts doesn’t work. It may be the very reason students dislike reading. You cannot break up perfection and expect it to remain perfect.

“Alphabet St”

“Put the right letters together and make a better day”

Prince – Alphabet St – Lovesexy

Leading the way with Literacy

I won’t bore you with why I was asked to be Literacy Lead for my school because I would rather share my journey so far.  Most people in this role know “Literacy” is often confused with English and therefore a tough initiative to buy into for many subjects that have enough on their plate delivering their curriculum. Many of the resources I mention are at the end for you to download.

The Literacy Heritage survey continues to show a clear correlation between attainment and reading enjoyment, frequency and attitudes. The more that can be done to develop and sustain children’s intrinsic motivation to read throughout their school journey, the more success they will enjoy both academically and in future life.

  • 41.4% Key Stage 4 pupils and 45.5% Key Stage 2 pupils reading daily outside class.
  • In 2015, just 40.2% of Key Stage 4 pupils (age 14 to 16) say they enjoy reading either very much or quite a lot, versus 72.6% of Key Stage 2 pupils surveyed (age 8 to 11)
  • Gender gap persists with 61.2% of girls enjoying reading versus 47.8% of boys.

There are various outcomes I would like to achieve in my new role, however, to do that I need to get the whole school, students and parents on board. I’m already beginning to feel nervous! Because of the kind of person I am, I approached my role in the same way I approach everything: methodically.

This is how I decided to do it – you may disagree, and that’s fine, I did what’s right for my school and students:

Define Literacy

Firstly I had to decide what were the aims for our school and what did we want to achieve? I need to help our school develop students’ abilities to read, write and communicate verbally in order to access the curriculum and reach full potential.  In addition, I need to change student and staff attitudes to reading, writing and speaking to promote our school’s ethos/values.

It was clear – I needed to conduct an audit.

Where are we, and where do we want to be?

I needed to establish exactly how I’d conduct the audit. This was the order and criteria I decided on:

Lesson dips  – this consisted of a whole-school 5-10 min lesson drop-in focused on Literacy in the classroom. I viewed nearly every dpt, and in core subjects, both key stages.

Self-evaluation grids – I made up a set of questionnaires for SLT, HODs/Middle leaders, Class teachers, Governors and parents to complete regarding Literacy within the school.

Book sampling – I viewed a selection of books from various subjects, to evaluate evidence, if any, of high Literacy standards from students, and marking for Literacy from teachers.

Conduct pupil interviews – I made up a set of questionnaires for KS3 and 4 students to complete regarding their attitudes to reading and writing (I didn’t include speaking and listening at this point). I had a different set made up for KS5 students.

Analyse data– I used the results and observations from the first four points to see exactly where our school was with regards high Literacy standards and steps needed to move forward.

Identify areas for improvement and set cross-curricular targets – There were many areas that needed attention. Only a few classrooms I visited displayed any type of Literacy awareness (eg posters), but on the positive side all staff modelled high Literacy standards themselves. However, not all books evidenced high literacy expectations from students and few read for pleasure outside of school. It was clear I had a lot to do!

Create an action plan – I found this hard to do. For any new Literacy leads it’s actually a huge job, and for existing leads, it’s tough keeping the momentum going that has been initially established. I decided to tackle Literacy for our school this way:

  • Roll out measurable tasks for data/impact
  • Build a whole school shift in ethos/culture with regards high Literacy standards
  • Departments to take ownership of Literacy within their daily practice
  • Students to take ownership of their own Literacy standards

then eventually (maybe next year) I will move onto:

  • Bridge gap between primary and secondary school
  • Develop links with community/parents

CPD – at some point I will need to provide training and support for staff regarding suitability of texts (eg readability) and quick and easy ways to embed Literacy into their own subjects that will help raise standards.

Monitor progress – once up and running exactly how will I monitor any impact or progress to quantify my efforts.

Evaluate impact – the final strand: at some point I will need to sit down and reflect on which strategies I put in place were effective, which had the most impact but more importantly – why?

This is how I began my journey and some of my ideas/initiatives/strategies

First I defined exactly what is Literacy to my school/students.


  • To create an environment where reading is promoted across the school
  • To provide time in school every week for all pupils to read
  • To support reading through a range of varied and appropriately differentiated reading resources
  • To promote and support reading in non-school hours


  • To provide pupils with a range of challenging writing tasks
  • To provide pupils with ‘real’ audiences and creative writing outlets where possible
  • To support writing with frames or scaffolds where appropriate, and use modelling where possible
  • To ensure grammar, spelling and handwriting are supported in all subjects
  • To promote and support writing outside of school day

Speaking & Listening: 

  • To raise awareness of the importance of speaking and listening across the school
  • To encourage a more systematic approach to the use of speaking and listening tasks in all subjects, including the use of more formalised assessment
  • To provide extra-curricular opportunities for pupils to extend their speaking and listening skills

I searched high and low on twitter, TES,  and Google – but I could NOT find any posters to display in classrooms, so I made my own! Now these did cause a bit of a stir when I posted on twitter with several asking me “how were they inclusive”?  I changed the wording several times and amended some of the points. I then took the posters to our student council, they discussed them and agreed on this version. They didn’t want any images on the posters other than the school ethos logo. The posters will be printed A3 and placed side-by-side in every classroom, I will print in pastel colours for ease of readability.


I made up a calendar of Literacy and awareness dates relevant to our students.


I decided as Literacy Lead I would run the Literacy dates (the column in the middle) with the librarian, but wanted each HOD to select at least one awareness date (column on the right) that they would like to promote or link to their subject – of course they could pick more than one! I would then work with staff to create resources and promote Literacy within each subject. Hopefully having this set up in advance would mean we would be able to produce some relevant and high quality Literacy resources. I didn’t want last minute, poorly thought through bolt-ons that wouldn’t last.  The aim here is to set additional extension style homework/projects for students to complete for the subject. I will upload details onto Show My Homework (if you don’t have this, then use your usual channels), students will be rewarded with achievement points, certificates and possibly prizes for their work. Each task will have the choice of a poster, booklet or presentation to promote the three areas of Literacy. Their work will go on display around the school via noticeboards, parent newsletter and student weekly notices.

I want to create a shift across the school regarding Literacy and create a sort of branding, I turned to twitter and these were all the tags that people came up with to promote Literacy. I appreciate this can appear gimmicky and the problem with gimmicks they rarely last or have any real substance.  However I want students and staff to understand and appreciate the importance of high Literacy standards and by seeing this across the school and on our website, our school would be in a position where this becomes part of our daily life. My contribution was Leading the way with Literacy and until we decide a different one, I will use this in all my subject lines on all emails/parent newsletters. I’m still in the process of narrowing one of these down with my Head/student voice.


I want all departments to focus on Literacy not just the English department.  To do that I came up with the following:

Literacy Star of the Week – I began a Literacy star of the week for parent newsletter and our weekly student notices. It will cover the three areas; reading, writing and speaking&listening.  I email departments weekly (started with Art) asking for staff to nominate a student that has stood out in one of those areas. That’s working well so far! Again students nominated get achievement points, certificates and possibly prizes!

Caught Reading I wanted to make Literacy relevant but playful. It can be difficult to keep these types of initiatives going. So again, I will be running these in subject order. I began with English and created a set of mug shots – this is my English dpt, amongst books read we have fiction, non-fiction, knitting patterns and one member reading to her children. My point is reading isn’t just literature/fiction books.


I decided by doing this by department, I could keep ideas and displays fresh.  I will put a notice in the weekly student notices to match the book ‘blurb’ to a reader/image – students will be rewarded for taking part. Besides mug shots, I have the following ideas for other dpts:

  • ‘Missing; lost in literature’ (Science)
  • ‘Your school needs you’ (Humanities)
  • ‘Wanted’- Read or dead! (Maths)
  • A squad line up of readers (PE)
  • Passport to knowledge and wisdom (SEND/TAs)
  • Match the teacher/shelf (Admin)
  • Get caught reading posters! (Students)

These were the Hums department


I try to change the left [photos] every 2/3 weeks and the right hand side [competitions and winners] every week.


Furthermore for students I will run rewards for top readers with an ‘Oscars’ style display (data can be obtained through the library with stats on books taken out). Again the same rewards apply.

My list of ideas (at the moment is around 70) so I’m not going to list them all but here are some others:

  • S&L – Set up a debate panel, raise importance of S&L in the classroom, students take the lead in assemblies, recite poetry. SALAD days (Speaking And Listening Activity Development).
  • Library – Promote books, new titles, authors etc, run reading and film club, run data on books taken out, promote books relating to a specific topic eg genre or country. Make contact with publishing companies, and local authors to come into school.
  • Writing – Raise the profile of writing via internal or external competitions – there are lots out there! Word of the week-or key vocabulary from our ethos.
  • Reading – book reviews, reading club, reading log book (see @fod3), reward students with free books (see @shadylady222). Encourage all reading, have mini libraries in classrooms/corridors (see @fod3 again).
  • Teachers – SOW to include explicit Literacy, subject specific key vocab, regular mini-tests of Literacy as starters (subject specific text with SPaG errors), marking for Literacy in books.
  • Student – Continual review via student voice, set up an after school club to promote the three strands (I will blog separately on this), quizzes. Get 6th form involved in running some events (eg debate, reading book club),
  • Whole school – Include a specific Literacy section on website to include further help and book lists (KS3/4), in T&L handbook, on subject SOW and submit regular Literacy updates on a dedicated noticeboard and parent newsletter.
  • Promote Literacy – take part in whole school events such as No pens day, DEAR (drop everything and read), national competitions.


The library is possibly the heart of Literacy in a school, yet the only subject that uses our library on a regular basis is English and that’s for dedicated reading lessons in KS3.  What about KS4?  From our 30 (50 min) periods a week only 16 are used, that leaves 14 where other subjects could use the library to research topics, create S&L presentations (on computers) and work as teams in an appropriate learning environment. Part of my action plan will be to get all departments to utilise the library so that eventually 30/30 lessons are booked up.

I have come to realise that many students either ‘pretend’ to read a book, flicking the pages then next lesson select a different book; or they do read it, but aren’t really understanding the text (comprehension skills).  So, for our KS3 library lessons I’ve made up the following booklets and library class sheets to help teachers support students in library lessons. I have to admit I used some ideas from this Accelerator Reader “improving comprehension PDF and a reading challenge booklet @fod3 made; we do use Accelerator Reader at our school.


The main purpose of each of the booklets is for students to read for an amount of time (this can depend on the individual student), after a while they stop and complete a section of the booklet to show understanding.  I have created four slightly different booklets. Students need to write in sentences – try to promote high literacy standards, ask students to consider/remember spelling, grammar and punctuation at all times.

  1. reading-log-1-urgent-intervention  – use with a Teacher/LSA/Group work
  2. reading-log-2-intervention – use with a Teacher/LSA/Group work
  3. reading-log-3-on-watch – some independent work or group work
  4. reading-log-4-on-or-above-target  – independent or group work

I also made up these grids (again using the AR PDF) to ask students questions about their reading habits and understanding of the books they choose. These will help you understand your class and their choices more effectively. These are TICK lists only.

  1. library-class-profile
  2. library-class-questions-to-ask
  3. library-class-reading-habits
  4. AR What is happening in the classroom

Hopefully all of the above will begin to ‘force’ students to understand and think about the words/stories etc and begin to consider choices made by authors. I’ve uploaded word documents so you can edit accordingly for your school.

How do I prove I’m making a difference or the school’s Literacy standards are improving?

All the ideas, initiatives and strategies put in place are pointless if I (or the school) have no way of knowing if they’re effective. My line manager keeps asking how can I quantify the initiatives I’m putting in place, after all some are attitudes. I came up with the following:

  1. Stats on Literacy – compile data eg Literacy starters (record accuracy of student responses), books taken out of library, then compare periodically or at end of academic year.
  2. Educational targets – set by trust to improve Literacy standards over time based on regional or national data?
  3. The comparability of data – across the 3 academies? Or other local schools Regional/National? Compare subjects (book trawls, test results)
  4. Moving from monitoring to direct assessment – eg multiple choice literacy tests on SAM, or standardised paper tests? standardised scores may be more indicative of progress as showing gaps between age and reading age.
  5. Surveys and evaluation questionnaires – once a term to compare attitudes to Literacy (student voice was completed at start of project)
  6. Accelerator Reader – use AR data showing progress across KS3 reading from start of academic year.  AR could be compared against other reading programs such as Suffolk or NFER for accuracy and reliability.
  7. Track students – select a random set of students to track Literacy over a long period of time (gender, ability, PP, SEND, EAL) for example between years 7-9 or 10-11.

Finally, I am only new to this post so the majority of the above is in its initial stages. I will keep you posted!

Here are some resources mentioned above:

Here’s some other useful resources used to help:

Finally – another great Literacy blog Why I love…Rethinking Literacy

“The Question of U”

What do I look 4, what shall I do?
Which way do I turn when I’m feeling lost?

Prince – The Question of U – Graffiti Bridge


Lately every time I want to ask something my first ‘go to’ is twitter. To be perfectly honest I say the word ‘twitter’ that much in my department I’m surprised nobody has took a swipe at me!  I believe I say ‘last night on twitter’, ‘on twitter’, ‘XYZ tweeted’ … etc etc at least once a day. I do try not to say it sometimes. Regardless, every time I feel unsure or want to ask a question, it’s the place I turn to when I am feeling lost!

Below are screen shots of lists or collections of information gathered from various ‘edu tweeters’ when I’ve asked for help.

Is this worthy of a blog?

Well, I think so yes. Recently I tweeted two of these lists and between them received approx 500 RT/favs. Great! But what happens when the dust settles, and time moves on? They get forgotten.

So for future reference or new followers, or simply people that missed them the first time around. Here is a collection of some lists I tweeted that many found interesting.

1) Interventions/Strategies

I tweeted out asking for help with different strategies for KS3. This was a collection of all suggestions tweeted to me:


2) Year 11 Revision Bags

I tweeted out asking ‘what would YOU put in a year 11 revision bag? This was a collection of all responses. Several tweeters have trailed these and they appear successful with year 11 students.


3) A concise list to my Blogs

Because I am aware I get new followers all the time, I cut and paste a list of my blogs for easy reference – this was oddly well received and even sparked off an idea to create a list of blogs for English teachers (An English Teachers’ Bibli-blography). I do recommend bloggers do this – or even their most popular blogs. Just tweet out your most popular or informative blogs. Teachers qualify all the time and the information many tweeters blog about is useful, informative and often very up-to-date. Keep those blogs going!


4) “If Carlsberg made…”

I spend my entire time teaching units, which are linked to assessment objectives or end of unit tests. In frustration one day I tweeted out this list; my ideal KS3 curriculum (7 & 8). All of these have ‘real’ end results, none are just a unit students do – every one produces a real letter or task which is sent off or leads somewhere. I will use some of these ideas to run a creative after school club for students from Sept!


5) Ways to Mark (without marking)

This is a total ‘cheat’ as this came from   blog Marking is a hornet but in my defence I did ‘tweet’ this image out, with a link to Joe’s page! All teachers know that they can soon drown under a pile of books: read the blog!


6) Teens in literature

I put together the following list of teens across literature for a SOW, but was annoyed that my list wasn’t particularly very diverse… in any way.ClBkDNGWAAAAmhh

So I called to twitter for help, again! Besides the list and SOW going down a treat with other English teachers – below is a list of all the extra teens I was given. I found extracts and used many of these characters in class – thanks twitter! Below is a cut&paste of the tweets as they rolled in… ignore any SPaG issues!



7) Variations of the well loved/hated PEE structure

My HOD asked me to turn to twitter for ways of developing student analytical writing. PEE paragraphs can help some students structure their work, but it can also hinder other students from confident and sophisticated writing. This was the response from other teachers:


You can download the document here if you want it – some lovely edu-tweeters also suggested some blogs which I’ve added on the end.


8) Beautiful extracts to analyse

Recently Freya @fod3 sent out the following tweet:


Off the back of all the responses I cut/paste into a list for myself and anyone else! These are helpful with the new AQA spec for Paper 1.


9)  List of literacy events / Awareness days


List of literacy Events / Awareness dates

10) World Book Day

Not wanting to do the same old thing, I did a quick #AskTeamEnglish and as always…this is what they came up with:


That’s it for now, but if I make up any more ‘lists’ that are gathered and gleaned from twitter not only will I tweet it…! But I will also upload here.

Thank you to everyone for contributing their ideas.



“Betcha by Golly Wow”

-Full of wonder and surprise and…
Betcha by golly wow! (wow!) (wow!)

Prince – Betcha by Golly, Wow – Emancipation


Whenever anyone shares their work their generosity always amazes me.  Teachers on twitter,in particular, are so kind and helpful. This is because most have one thing in common; they all want children up and down the country to succeed. And it’s their generosity with ideas, knowledge and kindness that always makes me think “wow”!

So, this blog as well as a few other recent ones “Baby I’m a Star (my most requested resources) “Extraordinary” (my best twitter steals) “Gold” (my not such good ideas)  is another little way of me saying thank you. To be fair my folders may not help you at all, maybe just helped me sticking in one place, but I hope it does help.

One thing about planning that can take time is finding articles or extracts, so below are links to some (hopefully) useful folders with a load of articles or extracts in them. Each folder is a working progress so I will continue to add to them.

If you have any documents you want to add please find me on Twitter (@FKRitson) and I can add you to the dropbox account. Also @Xris32 has a collection of 19c texts to use with the new AQA spec – if you have anything to add drop him a line too!

I repeat, these are all working documents, so I am constantly adding, re-naming or plain sorting- I’m aware some are a little untidy! They will get tidier as now they are ‘public’.

1) List of theorists

This is for AS/A-Level English teachers, a table of some theorists.

2) Articles (19c)

Some non fiction articles to help with AQA new spec – I am in process of trying to catalogue by date then brief description of what each is about (big job, going slowly)!

3) Modern articles

Mainly from The Guardian – but lots of articles that you ‘could’ pair up with non-fiction 19c articles. The same as (2) I will slowly sort these with better titles.

4) Extracts for analysis

Extracts for normal classroom analysis from classic and modern literature. I have sorted these in author then book. These may be fiction or non-fiction.  Please help me add to this!

There are over 300 extracts here:


Below you’ll find a link to lots of resources for the new AQA spec language and literature. I need to make it clear that this has been made possible by the kind and very generous Twitter #TeamEnglish staff that have all agreed to allow me to post their resources here in one place. Please help yourself… but what would be even better is to help us by adding to it!

5) AQA Language resources

6) AQA Literature resources

7) AQA Extract booklets (via AQA)

8) AQA Short Stories (old spec……)

If any of you can remember the old AQA Sunlight on the Grass Anthology (spec  4705 I think), they were a collection of short stories for GCSE students. Well, below is a link to each one and resources AQA kindly made up for each one. When you follow this link, there are 12 folders, in each folder is the short story, word and PDF (except Flight – will have to see what’s happening there) and you will find a bunch of teaching resources for the story. Enjoy!

9) Questioning Templates

Andy Tharby (@atharby) an English teacher. Co-writer of Making Every Lesson Count has kindly tweeted the following questioning templates. They will help with AQA structure and evaluation questions:

 10) Glossary of Terms

Various glossaries – GCSE, A-Level and others I’ve acquired!

11) Sentence Starters

Again over time I’ve collected these, some are mine – some aren’t. I will try to credit those that are not mine.

12) Speaking & Listening Resources

Again, from kind generosity of other teachers I have started to collect some S&L resources.

13) Links to other blogs with free resources!

Here are some links to other blogs with kindly donated free English resources (I will add to this as I remember them!:

  • Mrs Legg English– A few revision ideas for the AQA GCSE English Literature and Language legacy spec
  • anewhoffod – lots of freebies – you will have to search blogs! But several very good booklets to be downloaded!
  • Free Stuff For English Teachers – some well-received resources – free!