Back in business

The blog has been on the back-burner for a while, although as much of the content written last year is just as relevant to you, I have been pointing you in the direction of some of the posts and materials I think you will find useful, and I suggest you continue to trawl through the archives. Feel free to revive comment threads that have been lying dormant.

As we now move into the final three months of the course, with coursework and exam preparation to be completed, I want to make more use of this resource to help you with your studies, so you will find it useful to keep a close eye on here for updates.

Most of you have sent me work in progress, both on the current assignment (on Educating Rita) and in many cases on updating previous coursework assignments. Keep doing so. Remember it’s your coursework, not mine, and it is your responsibility to ensure you put as much time and effort into it as you can. If you fail to do that, you run the risk of finding yourself asked to attend sessions out of school hours to do work under supervised conditions. It would be daft, given all the time and help at your disposal to end up with pieces of coursework done in an hour or two after school.

If you have submitted work and haven’t got any feedback yet, then I apologise, but I work through them in the order in which they are sent, as and when I can find time to devote to this. Usually this means doing several at once in a block of time, and at the moment that means that some of you will have had to wait over the half-term break, as, although I looked at a few earlier in the holidays, I’ve really only had chance to settle down to it tonight. I can assure you that all work is carefully looked at, and I will make any comments that I can make for improvement within the exam board regulations (I can’t correct errors, or tell you what to write – it’s got to be your own work).

If you know that you have any work that didn’t get completed to a satisfactory standard (or at all!) earlier in the course, then don’t stick your head in the sand. Get it sorted well ahead of the deadline – it must all be completed before we break up for Easter to allow time to complete the assessment and paperwork before we start the department standardising process just after Easter when we teachers share work out between us, then have a standardising meeting to ensure we are all marking to the same standard. Once we’ve finalised our marks, they are submitted to the board, and a moderator will ask for a smaple of work to ensure we are keeping to exam board procedures and marking accurately. If there are problems with any work in the sample it can mean that all marks in the school get moved, so it is vital that all advice and instructions are adhered to. In particular can I remind you of what I have told you about plagiarism and malpractice, and the importance of including a detailed bibliography on any work where you have used books or online sources.

If you are in any doubt as to what is required let me know. I know this is a very pressured term time-wise, but you have the advantage at this stage of the course of having an even better idea of what gets good marks and what doesn’t. Remember that you can get very high marks without needing to write huge amounts so long as you clearly focus on the skills and techniques we discussed during the sessions before and after the mock exams.

Given that there is still a small handful of you that I haven’t heard from, and that there have been problems with people sending work to the wrong address, can I just reinforce that any work or queries should be sent to ajheald@gmail.com , or you can add a comment on the blog.

This half-term we will complete the final coursework, the pre-1914 prose assignment on Joseph Conrad’s Heart of Darkness. I hope you enjoy it as much as I will enjoy teaching it! Indeed, I hope my teaching it doesn’t stop you enjoying it: always a terrible risk for an English teacher. The horror! The horror!

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