Inspired by others on Twitter, this year I organised I series of revision lectures for our Year 11 students. I hoped they would challenge high-attaining pupils, and get them to appreciate literature for its big ideas. I hoped it might inspire them to take Literature at A-Level. I hoped it might help them write more fluently and confidently, enabling them to reach towards those highest grades.

I thought they would be valuable for our pupils, but I didn’t imagine I would get quite so much out of them.

Clarifying subject knowledge

In writing the lectures I delivered, on Blood Brothers and Macbeth, I had to seriously think about what made these texts important. I also had to consider the high-leverage vocabulary that express my thoughts about authorial intent and social context. I had to reduce complex thinking into neatly structured, comprehensive elements. It was a real challenge, but one that was hugely helpful in clarifying my teaching.


Even more than planning and delivering my sessions, I loved going to the lectures delivered by the amazing second-in-English, Daniel Blackburn. I learned huge amounts from him. As a literature examiner, his lectures were informed by phenomenal subject knowledge and real experience from marking hundreds of papers. He gave practical advice about what papers stand out and delivered fantastic material, including memorable sections about religious imagery in poetry and the motif of food as a tool of social commentary in A Christmas Carol. I was scribbling notes, and my teaching will be better as a result of listening to him. Through him, I also learned about voice and pacing. His every word was measured and clear, and the students were intently listening to every word. It was inspiring.

Feel free to take a look at the revision lectures here:

Revision mini-lecture on Blood Brothers.

Revision mini-lecture on Macbeth.

Considering education, schools and books. Elisabeth Bowling, Assistant Principal and Head of English. I tweet at @elucymay.

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