Revision Guides: Which ones are worth your money?

The Revision Guides I purchased where Libby Ahluwalia’s Oxford A Level Religious Studies (one book) and Chris Eyre and Julian Waterfield’s My Revision Notes for Religious Studies (separated into three books).

I have to admit straight away I am biased towards both books, so when ordering them I knew it was a done deal as far as quality. Ahluwalia’s text books have been an invaluable support over the last two years in preparing and teaching the new spec material. I trust Ahluwalia’s experience with OCR and her keen yet fair eye when it comes to assessment. I have also worked closely with Julian Waterfield over the years, so I know first hand his love for the subject, his honed skills for marking essays and his understanding of the reality of teaching. Neither of the Revision Guides let me down!

However I know with tight budgets purchasing a class set for both guides is unrealistic. Also bombarding students with lots of different books can sometimes over complicate revision rather than make it easier. Therefore as I am not a fence sitter, here is a rundown of my views of both guides:review 1

So my overall verdict:

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Homework – who is it really ‘work’ for?

Anyone that knows a teacher, knows they have a shadow that follows them everywhere. That shadow is marking. A teacher is never far from another essay to examine, book to mark or piece of work to score. I’ve been marking between 100-150 pieces of work every fortnight for the last ten years, mostly on an evening or grabbing the odd five minutes here and there but rarely at college (otherwise when do you plan, prepare resources and answer an endless stream of emails?) However, this blog isn’t about marking because I accepted many years ago that it is just part and parcel of the job. It is an essential to ensure students’ progress, learn from their mistakes, develop their technique and understanding and recognise their current working grade. No, this blog is about homework or the lack of it.

Now at school, teachers have detentions whereby students complete the work that should have been done at home. At college you hope your students have learnt those life lessons and therefore do their homework. The problem is what happens if they don’t do it or at least can never remember to hand it in? The answer – more time is then spent by the teacher chasing up those students, asking for it, reminding them, sending emails, contacting parents…there must be an easier way.

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Once Experienced Never Forgotten – A tour of Auschwitz

Last year my department got a letter from Chesterhill Charitable Trust Limited offering a free 2 day tour of Krakow and the Auschwitz camps in March 2018, including hotel, travel and food for 5 students, with an accompanying teacher. Who could say no to such an opportunity – certainly not us! So we packed our bags and off we went… (well that is once SLT authorised, risk assessments completed, letters home, payments received  for travel expenses to Heathrow airport, passports checked, endless train deals searched, mini bus and driver arranged, cover work set – you get the idea!)

We were greeted at Heathrow airport by Chuni Kahan (@Kahan_Travel), a man who has dedicated his life to arranging these visits for police workers, ambulance drivers, emergency service workers, students and others, in order to keep the history of the Holocaust alive, current and real to the next generation. Through the support of educational trusts and charities, Chuni has organised trips for over 15 years and we were very fortunate to now be part of this legacy of learning. Chuni was immediately welcoming, clearly very organised with group lanyards, fresh bagels and booklets of information on hand. We were set for our tour.

We arrived in Krakow and after a guided tourDSC03981.JPG of the historical features of the main town, a filling tea of homemade hummus, soup, marinated chicken and salad, we headed to our Spa and Wellbeing hotel that looked like something out of an Austrian Ski resort. After an early start, filled with a hot Kosher breakfast including crepes, coffee and fresh bread, we made our way to Auschwitz One.

As we approached the first camp the familiar feelings of dread started and upon seeing the brick buildings, barbed wire and overgrown railway line along the main road, I knew we had arrived (I visited the camps through the Holocaust Educational Trust about 7 years ago.) I didn’t know what was worse – knowing what we were about to experience or not knowing, as the case was for my students, the horrors that awaited them inside. Once you have seen the hair, the suitcases, the inside of a gas chamber, such memories are etched forever into your mind. A little bit of innocence is left behind. 

We were kitted out with our tour headphones and made our way to the famous sign. Over the next two hours we went in and out of the brick buildings (originally built for prisoners of war),  heard how the holocaust started and developed, the stories of the souls that perished and saw their lives captured in their belongings.

Once back on the coach, with our pre packed lunches that were provided, we made our way to Auschwitz Birkenau. We re-joined our guide and made our way through the sleeping barracks, along the railway lines, past the endless knocked down buildings and piles of rubble that were once the gas chambers.

Through the birch trees along the back of the camp (Auschwitz Birkenau means ‘Auschwitz of the Birch trees’) we visited the ponds were the burnt ashes of thousands of lives were scattered.

We ended the day with a touching prayer given by Chuni Kahan and then a slow, thoughtful walk back to the coach, each of us lost in our own thoughts from the day.

Thank you to Chesterhill Charitable Trust Limited and Chuni Kahan at Kahan Travel  for without them I would not have been able to share this experience with my students.

                        “This was by far the most intense experience of my life which deeply moved and affected me.”
(From one of my students)

Sexual Ethics: A2 Application

Preview of lesson plan:

Agree/disagree worksheet in pairs/ groups on pre/ extra/ homosexuality. Discuss answers as a class – initial debate over key issues.

Cut and stick – different philosopher’s views. Add strengths and weaknesses.

Ppt: Slides 1-2 outlining how Sexual Ethics is an application topic.

Ppt: Slide 3: Students write a paragraph answering:
‘Should sexual behaviour be private and personal or subjected to societal norms and legislation?’ (make sure students happy with all words used e.g legislation)

On board write private/ personal vs societal norms/ legislation. Students share views and discuss ideas – add to the board.

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Meta Ethics: A2 Ethics

Preview of lesson plan:

  1. Write each of these words into a sentence: good, bad, right, wrong.
  2. Are these examples of fact or opinion?

Introduce that Meta ethics focuses on the meaning of these words and how ethical language is applied.

Ppt: Slides 1-2 covering absolute and relativism and how this links to Meta Ethics

Using three colours students highlight which arguments belong to EN, Intuitionism and Emotivism – using textbooks, internet (not the ppt) adding in extra detail on the other side.

Ppt: slides 3-7 covering ethical naturalism from Bradley and Foot.

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The Happening: Nickel Mines School Tradegy


The Happening presents the events of a shooting and suicide in the usually p51+QNxaKAJL__SY344_BO1,204,203,200_eaceful and private Amish community. Despite this horrific event, this book shows how the most moral thing that can be done in the face of evil, is to forgive. 

This amazing account represents a community’s strengths and how their beliefs and faith in God got them through a grief-stricken time, when most would have fallen and crumbled under the devastation of losing a child. 

~Philosophy Bookworm.~