April 2017

On scaffolded descriptive writing openings

bournemouth beach

My low attaining year 10 class (average aspirational target of a grade 3) have been struggling with descriptive writing. I have provided some structure (e.g. using zoom boxes to focus in on areas of the image) and we’ve explored what makes good descriptive writing, with lots of modelling and practise, but… read more.

On what stuck from #rEDlang

tom bennett

Two weeks ago I attended the ResearchED English and MFL Conference which was held in the stunning Examination Schools. Since then, there are few sessions and key messages that have stuck with me and which I thought might be worth sharing… read more.

On second chances

134 (1)

I suspect we can all picture a student, present or past, with whom there came a point where we felt that we weren’t making a difference. Where we felt exhausted by the effort of trying to battle against them because we could see what they couldn’t: their potential; their progress and the possibility of their success…read more.

March 2017

On valuable feedback that supports teacher wellbeing

cover pic

The conflation of marking and feedback has led to a pernicious culture in schools that equates lots of written marking in books with high quality feedback. The irony is, of course, that the evidence on written marking is thin…read more.

On learning to notice (unseen poetry)


I picked this activity up from the AQA Effective Exam Prep course and thought it was a great way to get students to focus on the key things when tackling an unseen poem… read more.

On how we’re marking PPEs (mocks to you and me)

marking comic for blog

See that teacher? The one with ashen skin, ink smudges on her hands (insert school policy colour of preference) that can barely suppress a yawn? You know, the one with bloodshot eyes and a mug of coffee as large as her face. Yeah her. She teaches English. Be kind to her. Read more.

February 2017

On what Thumper’s father told him


When I was growing up my mum would regularly say to me, ‘What did Thumper’s mum say?’ and I would repeat back to her the maxim that if you can’t say anything nice you shouldn’t say anything at all. Words to live by; not least because being nice doesn’t mean that you can’t give feedback and constructive criticism…read more.


On our new whole-school literacy strategy


When I took up my post as Head of English in September I also took on the responsibility for whole-school literacy. Thankfully my school gave me time to devise a new strategy and sent me on a fantastic course… read more.

On speed-planning essays…


It seems a perennial problem that students don’t seem to know how to revise for English exams. One of the things I’ve been doing with my year 11s is speed-planning essays… read more.

Guest Blog by Linda Evans: On using Google Docs to track reading


I have a confession to make…I am slightly obsessed with Google Docs, thanks in large part to my colleague Charlotte….read more.

On homework that requires NO marking


I love this dreamy painting by Perugini (although I’m yet to master reading a book where it remains open on the bit I actually want to read without holding it…). Perugini captures in oil that delicious feeling of being lost in a book… read more.

On AQA Paper 2 Section A


Back in December I attended AQA’s Effective Exam Preparation course for the new English Language GCSE. It was a really informative day and has been instrumental in helping me to design how we prepare our year 10 students for their English Language exam this Summer… read more.

On AQA Lit Paper 1 Section B (19th Century) Question Stems


AQA have said that they will not print any more sample assessment material for the new Literature GCSE. Although I can understand why, it does present us with the challenge of generating questions for our students… read more.

On AQA Lit Paper 1 Section A (Shakespeare) Question Stems

#WeeklyBlogChallenge17 Post 6


AQA have said that they will not print any more sample assessment material for the new Literature GCSE. Although I can understand why, it does present us with the challenge of generating questions for our students… read more.

On AQA Paper 1 Section A (3 is the magic number)

#WeeklyBlogChallenge17 Post 5


When it comes to Paper 1 Section A, 3 really is the magic number (except when answering question 1 of course…)… read more.

January 2017

On being PiXLated


Yesterday I travelled, along with approximately 1599 other English teachers, to the Big Smoke to attend my first PiXL English conference… read more.

On writing essays people actually want to read…


This week I collected in some homework essays from my delightful top set year 11 class… read more.

On valuing knowledge AND engagement


I’ve been spending a bit more time on Twitter since having my appendix removed on New Year’s Day… read more.

On appendectomies and being a bad patient


On the morning of New Year’s Eve… read more.

On spinning and the importance of modelling


This summer I started doing something quite extraordinary (for me): spinning… read more.

November 2016

On grief and kindness


Two weeks ago my dad died. It was very sudden and unexpected: he was only 56… read more.

May 2016

5-a-Day Starter


I have a small but lively bottom set year 10 group who have found the demands of the new English Literature GCSE, well, demanding… read more.

February 2016

On becoming a Ms


I’ve overheard a few conversations at the entrance to my classroom, upon the door of which sits proud a sign that says ‘Ms Foster’, in which my students try to decipher the meaning behind my title… read more






































One thought on “Home”

  1. When I first came across your blog, I expected a rather cheesy tacky page filled with inspirational quotes written over sunsets, but it’s actually given me a different perspective on teaching. No, I am not a teacher myself, (very far from it actually) but it’s made me think about different peoples views on it. I assumed teaching teens was non stop stress, before, at and after work, but you’ve widened my viewpoint

    Liked by 1 person

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