Tag Archives: GCSE exam prep

An Inspector Calls

“We are all members of one body,” declares the eponymous inspector in a play that has been a set text since I was taking my O Levels, back in the dark ages. I’m gearing up to teach it again this Autumn. I never tire of it. Every class brings a slightly different perspective and I have developed the kind of expertise and automaticity in teaching it that makes lessons engaging and learning deep. It’s what every teacher strives for.

Teaching is a team sport – and never more so than when we return to the classroom in September. With teachers moving between ’bubbles‘ of students rather than waiting at the door of their classroom to greet their charges and tutoring responsibilities temporarily assumed by the teacher of the first and last classes of the day there is a shared responsibility vibe that can only be good for the profession as a whole. I have long been an advocate for shared resources and collaborative working. Some of the most successful exam prep we did with our GCSE students last year (when the exams actually happened!) was to take the whole year group through scripted walk-through papers in real time, with each member of the department leading on one of the questions on the paper. We also took charge of one of the set texts and ran masterclasses and revision sessions. The feedback from students was really positive. They said they felt they were part of a team effort to get them over the line, rather than working in isolation. For teachers it cut our workload considerably as we only had to prep one set text and one question on the language paper for revision. It’s an idea I want to embed in our approach to A level teaching in my new school – shared resources, collaborative preparation and planning, making the most of teacher expertise, building a team ethos…

One of the negative aspects of teaching from home or only going in to school occasionally when you’re on the rota basis is the feeling of being isolated. There has been so much teacher-bashing in the press recently that we need to build each other up more than ever. There is talk of OFSTED visiting schools in September to ensure that they are getting students back on track after the lockdown. Some of the teachers I know are already dreading this ‘last straw’. But they are marketed as ‘visits’ rather than ‘inspections‘. I hope this marks a turning point where OFSTED acts (and is perceived as) a supportive critical friend who listens to teachers, makes them feel valued, recognises their professionalism and rewards their hard work and flexibility. Inspector Goole championed the ‘hopes and dreams’ of the ‘millions of John Smiths and Eva Smiths’. Let’s hope OFSTED does the same for teachers.