Goodbye GCSE…Hello A Level!

First impressions are very important at the start of a new year. You always want to set the right tone for your classes – one that is both enjoyable and serious. It is about setting the bar with high expectations, introducing early challenge whilst making sure that students don’t drown with A level despair!

In the lead up to the start of term (and often during the first week back) you hear a lot of “What are your ice breakers?” I don’t have any for three main reasons: Firstly I believe that students soon get to know each other through the activities you do in lessons. I use two main activities to introduce Philosophy – the first is a movie maker “What is Philosophy” which instigates initial discussion (YouTube) and the second activity is a picture of Socrates Death with “What is Happening” (download the PowerPoint and worksheet free from: TES Resources).

socratesBoth of these activities work perfectly as ice breakers because the students cannot get the wrong answer, it is directly linked to the learning and enables students to contribute freely if they are comfortable (giving off those initial impressions).

The second reason I don’t use ice breakers (by ‘ice breaker’ I mean those ‘talk to the person next to you, now tell the class what you have learnt’ sort of activities) is because we have so little time. I am half way through Plato at this point because we do not have the luxury to introduce students back slowly.

The third reason is because the course is tough, the content is heavy and the ideas are difficult to understand. I don’t want to lull my students into a false sense of security then surprise them with what the course really is like. Start as you mean to go on!

So here are my top tips for starting the year:

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Conscience: A2 Ethics

Please find first Ethics PowerPoint for A2. Lesson plans to follow 🙂

To view all available teacher and student materials click on: R.S Resources. This digital goods store will allow you to quickly and safely download all materials (for a small charge). These include PowerPoints, lesson packs (with all worksheets and activities) key knowledge test packs (with answers), essay writing skills pack, revision packs and much more.

R.S Blockbusters

I love this time of year because you can finish those jobs that you have been trying to sort out for the whole year! For me it was organising my DVD collection from old spec to new spec. This DVD collection is available to my students – as a sort of Netflix’s- where they can borrow any DVD they wish. Unfortunately, as you well know, the new spec does not provide time for watching full films and documentaries. Therefore as I do not want my students to miss out on developing their wider understanding, I have built my ‘Blockbusters’ cupboard.

Here are my DVDs:

First Year Philosophy:IMG_1275.JPG

First Year Ethics:


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It’s Arrived!!!

And it looks fabulous! IMG_1206Exactly the same structure and layout as the last text book too #highlightofday!

Here’s hoping that I can get a little bit of planning under my belt before September starts!


If you are interested in viewing it, please click on the link below for the Amazon store.

Oxford A Level Religious Studies for OCR: Year 2 Student Book: Christianity, Philosophy and Ethics

Organising a New SOW: Second Year

The time has come to start planning the second year of the New Spec. To my horror there is a surprising amount of new content still to cover (I can’t believe there are another 6 topics to cover in Christian Thought!). So I thought I would make a start and the best way to do this is by organising my SOW, creating an overview map of exactly how long I have and how to cover both new content and revision.

So a couple of pointers first:

  • My students sit an exam at the end of the first year which means I have to cover all the first year modules rather than split equally over the two years (see: Updated SOW: Let’s be realistic! for first year SOW)
  • There is no team teaching or sharing of spec so students cover each section as a chunk: Philosophy, Ethics then Christian Thought.
  • I have five hours teaching time for second years per week.

The first big change from first to second year is the order of the sections, with Christian Thought coming first. This is very simply because it is the only section with 6 new modules to cover, so I just need to get those out of the way. I am also quite happy (ish) with the Philosophy and Ethics as they do not look much different from the old spec.

Second of all I am going to integrate revision into the Philosophy and Ethics sections and then leave some time at the end to revise Christian Thought again and fill in any final Philosophy and Ethics gaps. I have made this decision for two reasons. One because I believe students should be starting to revise their knowledge after Christmas and secondly because it then splits up revision. Revision is very hard work for both student and teacher therefore breaking it down into more manageable chunks seems wise.

This is how it looks:


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Predictions for A2 Ethics

I am not a gambling sort 714583-exam-1401318461-908-640x480of person but I would bet money that you will be asked two application questions. But what about the other two questions? Well, as with my previous predications, all I have to go on is the patterns, links to the specifications and gut instinct (call it my ‘intuition’ if you like).

Meta Ethics: even though this came up last year I still think there is a possibility of it re- appearing (as it makes more appearances than not in the exams). At the end of the day it is not a popular topic therefore it often rears its head repeatedly. If so, my predications are either: Ethical Naturalism specifically or a question worded with Non Cognitive e.g ‘A non cognitive approach is the only way to understand ethical language’ (as emotivism not asked since 2011 and prescriptivism since 2012).

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