Monthly Archives: October 2013

“And I would walk…”

I am going to be walking into your classrooms this week.

I have decided to write my end of term review tonight rather than wait for next Friday, which will be an evening of pre Sennen packing. Sennen my favourite place and favourite holiday of the year; this year more than any other year I am yearning for its open spaces, crashing shores and lack of wifi.

I have tried my hardest to limit my twiddiction/twitteriction by only looking at the weekend and am proud to say that I have only given in twice – well maybe three times. If you’re still not hooked try it out – it is an incredibly positive form of cpd. Take a look at the tweacher map that Mark stuck up on the staffroom whiteboard – see if you can find Mr S (Torquay7) – for some suggestions on people to follow. I am glad that I know that when Lucy leaves I can easily stay in touch through twitter and hope that she continues to follow us. We also of course now have @TweetsbySBL to explore and use to communicate with our community.
The most fun I have had this term has been with my Year 8 group and I am proud of our wordpress site (I know it says Year 7…) My next step is to make sure that every student in the group has their own blog and I have just learnt how to create a blogroll/links to these. This will mean that they can directly upload to the site without having to email it to me and then for me to upload it to the site. I’m excited at the idea of being able to mark their final pieces online in the comments boxes and a little nervous as one of the reasons I want to do this is so that parents have more immediate access to their child’s progress. I am encouraging the class to ask their parents to comment on the blog too and hope that this will become another way of improving my contact with parents. The only downside has been that I have spent more time on the 8E site and I’ve been neglecting ‘A Bigger Boat’ which is probably even more important than ever as we seem to see less of each other.
My worst moments this term have involved thinking of and analyzing exams. We will need to address our intervention strategies early next term following our data inputs. We know how important it is to target the right students and that those students we have felt confident about achieving their TGs in the past may not. Please spend a little time over the holiday considering what we could do differently.
“Because the people who are crazy enough to think they can change the world, are the ones who do.”
― Apple Inc.

This is a fantastic blog on marking and feedback – some of you will have already come across it. The links at the end are incredibly useful too.

Much love and many thanks


End of an era?

Today – 3rd October 2013.

I had my annual WJEC exams meeting in Bristol today. It was an exams meeting with a difference and started with the line “Nobody who knows anything about exams can now do CPD face to face” In fact they aren’t even allowed to be in the audience! Ofqual has insisted that the meetings are recorded and so there was no summer exam feedback. I guess this is why the training was free this year.
We were only allowed to discuss controlled assessments and teaching and learning issues could not be explored. Various centres attempted to ask questions but they would not or rather could not answer. I don’t imagine this day will happen next year and so I feel sad.
Annotated exam responses will appear on the secure website and the trainers promised that these would appear before 5th November to enable those departments who have entered students in November to learn from them. We will be notified by ebulletin. But of course there can be no guarantee that the grade boundaries won’t change again and again.
It was suggested that we ask our schools to give us time off timetable to look through the exam exemplars. I will make a request.
The rest of the day was spent reviewing controlled assessments, which was useful but involved yet more marking!

Key Messages
English Language

The tolerance across the whole folder is 3 marks.
Award the SSPS mark first and then the CO
Make sure that every error is flagged up for descriptive and narrative pieces
Descriptive – there must be a sense of place rather than of people.
sustained = 500 words
ensure paragraphs are linked – encourage cyclical plan
Narrative – not too long – the longer it is the more likely students are to make errors.
Consider structure carefully
Strong sense of human interaction is usually successful
Extended Literary Text (Of Mice and Men) – The key is the analysis of language. Students can focus on a specific incident e.g. “How does Steinbeck present the death of Curley’s wife’s?” Focus on 3 points to explore in detail.
Studying Spoken Language – less time was spent on this assessment. We were shown an interesting piece entitled “My Language Life” which did not use a transcript but still managed Band 5.
Speaking and Listening – although the grade is to be reported separately and will not affect the overall gcse grade we still need to complete all paperwork and submit samples. I have a DVD, which we will standardise during a CT meeting in Term 2.


Students are more successful when the question is separated into 3 sections.
‘Of Mice and Men’ – as long as columns 1 and 2 are successful marking can ‘forgive’ little social, cultural and historical context.
First and Third person narrative – see descriptive and narrative. We are being advised to remember the lower marks for SSPS. An example was given of a CA that contained 45 errors on the first page and yet was awarded a 3.

English Literature
Shakespeare and Poetry

Students are more successful when the question is separated into 3 sections.
We were reminded that marks for linking are awarded when the link is made between Shakespeare and the poetry not between poems. We were also reminded that only 1 side of A4 of notes was allowed.
Year 10’s essays will be marked differently – see ‘strengthened’ English Literature specification.
If a candidate writes a plan during the 4 hours we need to sign it to show that the candidate did not bring in a plan.

GCSE Strengthened English Literature
(This is already on Bigger Boat and so should be familiar to you.)
Candidates must study 6 texts:
Of Mice and Men
Shakespeare + 15 poems (list on secure website) – counts as 2. Although they need to study 15 poems they only need to write about 2 or 3 in their essay.
Unseen poetry – a further 15 poems. We can choose these poems and they can include poems used from past papers. They need to be ‘contemporary’.

New emphasis on A04 in the examination questions
EG Unit 1
“Show how John Steinbeck uses the character of Crooks to highlight some aspects of American society in the 1930s”
EG Unit 2a/b
“Hobson’s Choice is subtitled “A Lancashire Comedy” To what extent do you find it a comedy?
Support you answer with reference to the text and consider the social attitudes of the time in which the play is set.

Emphasis on A03 – linking and comparisons
The linking section of the Shakespeare and Poetry controlled assessment equals 50%. The advice is to award 3 marks across the AOs and then add them together.
The themes for 2015 are:
• The treatment of women
• Control and power

Unit 1 Unseen Poetry
The poems for Higher and Foundation are to be different from 2015. The focus is still to analyse and compare.
Bullet points suggesting areas to cover will feature on Foundation Tier.
No guidance will be given on Higher Tier.

The assessment in spelling, punctuation and grammar for Unit 2a/b will continue.

Next Steps
I am proposing that I go through the descriptive and narrative controlled assessments next CT meeting. This may mean a further postponement of the Year 9 scrutiny but it is important that we are confident that our marking is accurate prior to marking Year 10.