What are we teaching at KS3?

The first full report of our survey into texts taught at KS3 has now been published on the UKLA website here: https://ukla.org/funded_projects/what-literature-texts-are-being-taught-in-years-7-to-9/

We are currently looking at issues relating to teacher agency, teachers as readers, and representation in texts using our follow up case studies, but, for now, the report gives you a break down of the results and some ideas to think about in terms of selecting the texts which you teach.

We’ve also included a simple literature audit tool that you might use as a starting point for reviewing your departments’ choices.

Please feel free to comment!


Resources for C19th Non-fiction and Thomas Hardye

We are delighted to announce that 100 letters to the novelist and poet Thomas Hardy – phase one of the Hardy’s Correspondents Project, a collaborative project between Dorset Museum and the University of Exeter – are now available to the public and free to use. We hope that these will be of use to all GCSE and A level English language and literature teachers and students, including everyone who is currently working remotely.
Hardy’s Correspondents
About The Letters. In 1840, the year that the poet and novelist Thomas Hardy (1840-1928) was born, the Uniform Penny Post set in train a communications revolution.


All material is free of charge and supports the contextual study of 19th-century literature at GCSE and A level as well as GCSE English Language. The letters also lend themselves to the study of non-fiction at KS3 and Language Variation at KS5 and the resource itself provides a stimulus for creative writing at KS3 and KS4.

The letters are accompanied by a free educational resource developed by the University of Exeter in collaboration with Dorset Museum. The resource provides teachers and students with additional late 19th- and early 20th- century non-fiction texts. We have now updated our webpage to provide a teaching pack, which includes all the non-fiction texts, along with transcripts, for easy use in the classroom. This pack, and lesson plans, accompany our electronic resource, which encourages independent, active learning in and beyond the classroom. There are built-in questions with answers but the resource can also support independent research projects where students find 21st-century texts on similar topics.

We would love to hear about your use of the resources and any lessons that you deliver using any of the material so do please email me directly to let us know or to give us any other feedback!

A key theme is the exploration of historical relations with animals. Students will encounter areas such as Victorian pets and empire and animals as well as letters to and from Hardy. This opens up opportunities for discussion and comparison with 21st-century topical material, such as recent changes in legislation surrounding the use of circus animals. The themes covered by the resource also provide scope for e.g. AQA English Language Paper Two for making connections with such documentaries as Tiger King which many students may have watched during lockdown.
As a taster text, here is a short news item from the Graphic in 1891.

For recent news items and features on Hardy’s Correspondents Project see https://www.the-tls.co.uk/articles/newly-discovered-letters-thomas-hardy-wife-florence/
Newly discovered letters from Thomas Hardy’s wife Florence – The TLS
Letters | Newly discovered letters from Thomas Hardy’s wife Florence. Essay by Angelique Richardson, University of Exeter

Discovery of letters shines light on Thomas Hardy’s second marriage | Books | The Guardian
Author’s second wife, Florence Dugdale, tells of celebrity pressures, and joy at living with ‘one of the kindest men in the world’

How Thomas Hardy’s feminist fans found inspiration in Tess, the milkmaid exploited and betrayed by the men around her – The Telegraph
She is not only one of English literature’s most beloved of tragic heroines, but recently discovered fan mail has now revealed that Thomas Hardy’s character Tess of the D’Urbervilles …


and https://www.tes.com/news/gcse-english-new-exciting-approaches
New English language GCSE expands opportunites | Tes News
GCSE English: ‘New, exciting’ approaches . As students sit the reformed GCSE English language exam, two educators explain the benefits of working with 19th-century texts. By Angelique Richardson and Helen Angear 05 June 2018 – 12:15. Share this. The recent reform of the English language GCSE to include pre-20th-century unseen texts means …

For any further information or enquiries please contact me at A.Richardson@exeter.ac.uk

Join us in researching talk for writing

Ruth is recruiting schools / English teachers for a major research project investigating talk for writing.

What’s the project about?

The research project, which is funded by the Economic and Social Research Council (ESRC), will investigate the impact of high quality classroom talk on children’s writing. In particular, the study will build on research which suggests that metatalk (talk about writing) may be important for the development of metalinguistic understanding. While there is extensive evidence that high quality classroom talk supports learning, very little research has examined the impact of talk on writing specifically.

 What will the project look like?

We will work closely with 6 teachers from 6 different schools to investigate the impact of high quality classroom talk on KS3 students’ writing. The study will not require teachers or students to diverge from the requirements of the KS3 National Curriculum for English. Each teacher will work with three different KS3 classes: one class for exploration in phase 1, one class for development in phase 2, and one class for intervention in phase 3. Phase 4 will involve outreach activities, including developing pedagogical and professional development materials.

What commitment does this project require?

The project spans 3 years, from January 2020 – December 2022 but the time commitment for participating teachers’ will vary depending on the phase of research. For example, phase 1 (January – July 2020) will involve 2 meetings and 2 school visits; while, phase 2 will involve 4 meetings and more data collection. The timeline below shows the expected dates of each research phase and the supply cover provided.

Phase 1: Exploratory 2: Development 3: Intervention 4: Impact & Engagement
Dates January 2020 – August 2020 September 2020-August 2021 September 2021-August 2022 September 2022-December 2022
Supply cover 5 days 10 days 7 days

What are the benefits of participating?

The new pedagogical approaches developed in the study are likely to benefit the students involved, both in terms of classroom practices and in improving their writing proficiency. For teachers, this is a rare opportunity for deep, sustained professional development in the teaching of writing. The collaborative nature of the project will also build teachers’ understanding of research processes, and their capacity to engage in knowledge exchange activities with other teachers and researchers.

If you would like to know more about the project, or are interested in taking part, please get in touch:

Research issues: PEE, PEEL, PEELA

A key focus of research in English teaching at the moment is on the dominance of paragraph scaffolds such as PEE or PEEL.

In a recent article, Simon Gibbons (Director of Teacher Education at Kings College London, former Chair of the National Association for Teachers of English) questions the origins and value of these structures:


If you would like a full copy of the article feel free to email and I’ll send you one.

An alternative way to approaching paragraphing at KS3 is explored in this open-access article, written by a teacher: https://www.nate.org.uk/file/2017/03/NATE_TE_Issue-13_33-36-ENSTONE-FINAL.pdf

– only 4 pages long and written for teachers, this would be an ideal article to take to an English department meeting for discussion!

Coming Events: Major English Conference in June

The ‘English Shared Futures‘ event in Manchester on Friday 26th June – Sunday 28th June is the major national English conference this year. It’s a joint enterprise between The English Association and University English, with NATE, NAWE, and the Institute of English Studies.

The programme includes a really diverse and exciting range of talks, workshops, salons, master-classes, research-in-progress sessions… It is particularly characterised by the fact that it brings together authors and literature/language experts (e.g. Ali Smith, David Crystal), and people who work primarily in English education, as well as the intention to make connections between English in secondary education and English in higher education.

It presents a really significant opportunity to get insight and inspiration, and to engage with real and developing research and a well-informed, critical and rounded understanding of the field (rather than the edu-bloggers, twitter-celebrities and book-peddler/strategy-salespeople that characterise some events).

The website mentions bursaries available – would be worth asking about this on their contact form!