Student Led SRE – an update

*UPDATE* – 03/03/2014

I have taught the first lessons, actually taught is probably the wrong word more facilitated the first lessons of this program and it has gone quite well. The students have responded positively and most have engaged with the more discussion based lessons. There are still a few who are reticent to speak up so I have started to think of ways to encourage them and build their confidence. One of the ways that I am trying is to relocate the class to a place we have in school called the “Snug”. The “Snug” is the TV room in the sixth form boarding house, so rather then sitting at classroom desks and facing the whiteboard they are sat facing each other on comfortable sofas and chairs. I am hoping that this environment might make it less of a “Lesson” almost and more of a discussion and sharing of ideas. The first lesson I am trying this with is the one where we are looking at the age of consent and the right time to have sex for the first time. As I don’t need the whiteboard  for this lesson and the students had ask that this be a discussion based lesson on their schemes of work, it seemed the ideal opportunity to try it out.

Also I have decided that in order to truly assess the impact of this idea to allow students to create their own scheme of work in SRE I need a control group who do not have that opportunity. So I have taken two groups of similar ability, one will set their own scheme of work and the other will just follow the one I set. I will then use AfL style techniques throughout the unit to assess how the students feel about the lessons, do they find them interesting? Are they happy with the activities that they are doing? What would they change about the scheme of work? This will then help me to analyse the results to see the impact of designing their own learning has on students……..tbc

Student Led – Sex and Relationships Education (Yr9)

I have been teaching PSHE throughout my entire teaching career, mainly due to the fact that my PGCE was in Citizenship Education and the two subjects often go hand in hand. I do really enjoy teaching PSHE, the topics are interesting and varied and it gives me the room to try different things with my classes that I may be a little more reticent to try in an exam class. It was this freedom that has allowed me try a new approach to SRE with Year 9.

Often when I speak to teachers about teaching SRE they get this look of Oh God, Don’t make me teach THAT!”, I am the complete opposite, I love teaching it. Regardless of the year group or behaviour issues there might be, SRE gets all the students interested and engaged from the get go. I do make sure that there are very strict ground rules in place for these lessons and the students know that they will be enforced strictly and with serious repercussions.  I have only had a couple of students test me on this and they quickly learnt there were no second chances. I enforce this so strictly because I want the students to feel comfortable enough to have these discussions and ask these questions without fear of ridicule from their peers and to not to feel embarrassed if they aren’t sure or don’t know something.

We often here from students that they want more SRE in schools but they also want it to be relevant to them and what they feel they need information on, however they still want and need the structure of a more organised and planned lesson. Taking this on board I decided that I would let my year 9 students design their own bespoke scheme of work (including assessments) which I would then develop into lesson plans.

Today was the first lesson when I introduced this idea to the students (I will admit that this is a high achieving group but I intend to do this with my other groups as well) and the initially seemed a little sceptical that I would actually allow them to decide what we would look at but once I reassured them that yes in fact they were going to tell me what we would be looking at they got quite excited.

20140227_104612To start with I got them to think about what they understood SRE to mean. There is often an over emphasis on the Sex aspect of SRE, i.e. STI’s, contraception pregnancy etc. with little attention paid to the Relationships side of the program. So I got the students to create mindmaps using graffiti tables (which they also loved the idea of doing due to being able to write on tables – Thank you @mrgill again). However I think that in the next time I will try Venn Diagrams so that they can identify areas which cover both sex and relationships rather then seeing them as separate entities.

The next step was for the students to identify  and prioritise which areas they thought we needed to cover within our scheme of work. I got them to do this be writing down 6 key questions which could form discussion questions around which the lessons could be based.

I used an adaptation of the #5min Lesson Plan (Thank you @teachertoolkit) to get the Student Led SOWstudents to sketch out their ideas for the scheme of work and what key messages they wanted or thought should be promoted through the lessons. We talked about what an objective was and how to write an effective one that would be SMART.

Then in their groups they discussed what would be the best and most logical order to cover the discussion questions, what sort of activities they have enjoyed in previous lessons and other classes that they think would work well in in this unit, I also listed on the board what topic specific resources we had in the department (STI Giant Microbes, Placebo Kits for contraception and STI’s, The Purple Plastic Penis condom demonstration kit etc). I also got them to think about how they think the best way to assess this unit would be.

20140227_104530At the end of the lesson I took in all their ideas and have created a scheme of work that fits with their wants and needs. I am still going to be planning the individual lessons but it will based on their ideas and the activities that they want. In terms of assessment I am taking their ideas along with some of my own to create a Takeaway Menu Assessment (again thank you @teachertoolkit for the idea) so that the students can choose the format of their assessment to go along with the scheme of work that they themselves designed.


(Scheme of work is available via the Box.Net link)

I am sure that this scheme of work will change as we go through, where some topics require more or less time. I am hoping for a lot of discussion based work from the students using the questions that they initially asked, but this exercise has not only made it easier for me to plan this scheme but also gives the students ownership of it.

I will update as we go through, evaluating the process and detailing my adaptations as they happen. At present I am feeling quite confident about it all but we shall see………..

Comic Strips

Comic strips are a great activity, that can be used in a number of different ways and a have a number of different purposes. I tend to use them in two main ways and that is to consolidate understanding and the other is to plan an essay answer which requires a balanced answer. Whatever the use, comic strips are a great way of differentiating for those students who have weaker literacy skills.

The first way I have used comic strips is as a consolidation activity, whether it be in History where I want to consolidate learning on a particular event, or in Sociology where I have used them to consolidate on different theories, this sort of activity allows students to show their understanding without having to worry about their literacy skills or their ability to use key terminology as the focus of this activity is a visual representation rather then a coherent piece of prose.

It is pretty self explanatory when  using comic strips as for an event in history and I have used them for an actual event as well as to get the students to think about how things would have been different if certain events hadn’t happened or had a different outcome. For example in Year 7 history I have used this activity to get the students to think about how different things would have been had Harold Hardrada won at Stamford Bridge, or is Edward the Confessor had had a son to take the throne. In year 8 I have used it for cementing understanding of the events of the Gunpowder Plot.

I have also seen this activity used in other subjects such as MFL to map out a conversation, Science to show a process and in P.E. to demonstrate a skill or plan a warm up or drill. It is a great universal activity especially for those with low levels of English.

In terms of essay planning comic strips can be used to identify counter talk it outarguments or plan out a response that requires a balanced view. The way this works is by having two people in each box who “talk out” the main points of the essay, each providing one side of the argument. I used this activity with a Year 8 PSHCEE class who are low ability in English to map out an essay asking if 13 year olds should be allowed to have Facebook or not. It worked really well as I had the students pair up based on which side of the argument they would argue in their essay. they then discussed for a few minutes why they had chosen which side before collaborating on the comic strip. This gave some of the weaker students more confidence in what they wanted to say and they were then able to concentrate more on the structure of the essay.

I have also used this in A Level lessons for students to identify criticisms of different theories using alternative theories. This works really well to help students understand how one theory can be used to criticism another as well as help them make links between theories. As well as helping some students to identify the evaluation of the point they are making.

I do often have to stress to the students that I am not looking at their artistic ability and to prove it I show them my own version as I am one of the most inartistic people ever.

If you have access to IT this can be done using a website called it is free to sign up and has a stock of images that the students can manipulate to create their cartoons.

I have added the outlines I use to for download.

Graffiti Tables

I can’t take any of the credit of this idea but personally I think it is brilliant and all due credit and awesomeness  points go to


@mrgill who posted an activity he had done with his key stage 4 History groups on his twitter account using what I have called Graffiti Tables and I just had to try it. As usual when I get a new idea for anywhere the first group it gets tried out on is one of my A Level classes. The reason for this is that they are a smaller class (6 in A2 and 16 in AS) which means I have better control over the situation then if I were to try it with my Yr7 History class of 28. Also a lot of the time A Level lessons can be quite didactic so it is great to find ways to make their lessons as creative as main school lessons.

I do suggest that you make sure that the tables in your classroom are okay to be written on with whiteboard pens, there are some special tables you can get which have whiteboard tops but there are ways of doing this sort of activity without having to completely refurbish your classroom. One alternative is to use the static whiteboards and lay them over the tables to cover them. Or alternatively you can see if you are able to write directly on the tables. I am lucky that the tables in my A Level room allow me to write directly on them and the whiteboard ink comes off with a bit of kitchen cleaner.


I really like using and creating mindmaps with students, it allows them to get the information out of their heads and organise it without having to worry about sentence structure. It also allows for collaborative learning, allowing for students to share ideas and information in a more informal way. The problem I find with mind mapping is the big bits of paper that the students work on and what to do with them after the lesson. I don’t have a lot of space for storage nor do I have a lot of display space considering I don’t really have my own room but share 23! So this idea is great for me as all I need to carry with me is a set of whiteboard pens, some kitchen cleaner and kitchen roll. It is also environmentally friendly and budget friendly making most bursars and budget holders happy.


In the lesson today I got my year 12 students to mind map the internal and external factors which affect educational achievement by class. They put two classroom desks together using one side for the internal and one side for the external. They then had to add information using the key sociologists and key concepts I had on the board as well as their own notes and reading.

My year 12 students can be somewhat apathetic about doing anything and often prefer to be lectured to but I have finally found an activity which had the whole group engaged and working collaboratively to achieve an objective. At the end of the time given they had produced some great work which we photographed for their notes (I put copies on the school VLE as well for them to access if they want to.They also used these mind maps to create essay plans which I then photocopied for their own notes.



It was one of those lessons that you just wanted someone to walk in for a learning walk or random 5 minute observation. All the students were engaged, working and on task. They were showing collaborative learning as well as reflective learning. It was fantastic even if I do say so myself!

My version of a Flipped classroom

I came across this idea through discussion with some other teacher friends of mine and had to go away and Google it in order to find out what it truly meant as it sounded like a quite a different and exciting way to do things.

In my Googling I found that the idea of the flipped classroom was the brain child of two American teachers: Berman and Sams. They had found software online which allowed them to record their PowerPoint presentations with sound and began doing so for students who had missed their class so they didn’t fall behind. This then led to the idea that all students could do the “learning” element of the lesson outside of the classroom which then allowed for more creative collaborative learning to happen in the classroom to consolidate on the knowledge they had learnt for homework. This also meant that the teacher was able to give more personalised time to the students in class to make sure that they were clear on the content.

I really liked this idea but had my reservations as (1) I am not good with podcasting or filming myself, (2) what would happen if the students didn’t do the required reading or preparation before the lesson? And (3) wouldn’t it just look like I was being lazy in not actually TEACHING content? But I still wanted to try it as I could see the merits of the model for certain aspects of the A Level Sociology course as well as helping the students become more independent in their studies and preparing them for the self-reliance of University study.

I got over my first reservation by realising that there are plenty of teachers out there who don’t mind filming lectures or creating podcasts which were fantastically put together, so instead of reinventing the wheel I chose to use the resources that were already available via YouTube and other video hosting sites. Of course I checked all the videos before posting the links on the school VLE to ensure that they were in fact relevant and appropriate. I also posted links to various revision sites and resources that had plethora of information for the students to use.

Secondly the whole point of this was to get the students to be more independent and take more control of their learning, so although this was a risk I thought that it was worth it as after the first flipped session they would realise that without doing the required preparation they might not be able to participate in the lessons and that I would not be “Teaching” them the content they would realise the need to do the preparation.

The final fear that the students of my HoD would think I was being lazy was put to rest when I realised that a lot of preparation goes into setting up a flipped classroom situation, Not only do I need to find the resources for the students but also set tasks to ensure that they are getting the right information from the resources and then I also needed to set up the consolidation activities that we would do in class. Some of these would be past examination questions but I also needed to have other activities which would allow me to help them supplement the information they had found and correct any misunderstandings.

I decided that the best group to try this with were my year 13 Sociology students when looking at Theories of Crime and Deviance (SCLY4). In the past I have taught this using a lecture and didactic method which worked but was boring for both me and the students, and this academic year I wanted to have more creative and engaging lessons so was looking for a way to enhance the creativity and active learning of this unit. It was in my research for this that I came across the idea of flipped classrooms. I wasn’t completely taken with all elements of the flipped classroom so have adapted it to suit the needs of my class and my own need for control.

The adaptions I made including providing the students with a knowledge grid which they had to fill in whilst watching the video clips and researching the different theories. This allowed them to organise their notes and also allowed me to see that they had in fact been doing the preparation I had set. I also gave them an outline of what we would be looking at in each lesson so that they could break down the preparation into more sizeable chunks. Once in the lessons I used various consolidation activities such as essay planning and peer marking, gap fills; card sorts and mind maps. These then allowed me to work collaboratively with the students to fill in any gaps or correct misunderstandings. Throughout this time they also had a more formal homework set which consisted of past exam questions which I then marked and fed back on in order to practice exam skills.

After two sessions working like this it does seem to have worked and the students in my class have quite enjoyed the opportunity to do these more active and creative consolidation activities rather than didactic spoon-feeding. We still have 1 double lesson to go in order to finish off and then a timed assessment which will really show the success of this style of teaching but so far so good. I am also acutely aware that this sort of teaching would not work for all subjects and content but for something that is normally quite a dry and didactic unit it provides a more independent and active alternative.


Links to Flipped Lesson resources:

Consolidation Activity Ideas:

  • Visually represent
  • Mind mapping
  • Essay marking and annotating
  • Card sorts
  • Gap fills
  • Quizzes



PLTS – independent enquirers, self managers, creative thinkers 

ECM – Enjoying and achieving, making a positive contribution

AFL – Active Involvement, Differentiation, Self Assessment

SEAL – Motivation, Self Awareness


Homework – Takeaway Menu

This homework idea is something that I picked up from the Teacher’s Toolkit (@teacherstoolkit) and have adapted to work with my year 7 students and also links into a post I was on another blog I follow: Headteacherguru  ( which talks about the purpose of homework and ways to make it more creative. This also gets the students practising higher order thinking skills such as synthesis.


The Homework takeaway menu is a task where you tell the students the objectives of a    task but it is up to them to choose the outcome from either a list of options (good idea for the first time trying the activity) or from their own imaginations.  I did this with

my Year 7 PSHCEE group who had been looking at Healthy Eating over the past few weeks. I gave them the outline – which you can find attached (Promoting Healthy Eating Task Sheet) which told them that they had to come up with a way to promote healthy eating to Secondary aged students but they could choose any appropriate format that they wanted. I gave them a few ideas on the board, for example poster, booklet, leaflet, video etc. to get them thinking but it was up to them to choose for themselves.

As I only see this class once a week and set homework once a fortnight I gave the students 3 weeks to work on the project. Today


was hand in day and rather then me collecting them all in each of the students presented their work to the class where it was peer assessed using the 2 stars and a wish format.

For a first time trying the activity it worked quite well, we had quite a few posters, a couple of leaflets and a rather fantastic video from one student. We didn’t manage to get through all of the presentations in one lesson but I am looking forward to seeing the rest next week.


AfL: Active Involvement, Differentiation (through outcome), Positive Influence.

SEAL: Motivation.

ECM: Enjoying and Achieving, Making a positive contribution.

PLTS: Creative Thinkers, Self Managers, Independent Enquirers.

Mock Trials / Courts

It is Sunday night and I am sat at my computer with Elementary (Johnny Lee Miller as Sherlock Holmes based in NY) on in the background and I am a just sorting out the resources for the Mock Trial that my Year 9 PSHCEE group are going to start this week. I really enjoy doing Mock Trials and courts with students as it gets them to think about both sides of an argument as well as question the evidence they have been presented with. It is also quite fun to do some role play activities where you as the teacher have very little input in the outcome.

I have used Mock trials in history a number of times to help teach source analysis along with evaluation skills and luckily enough Industry-Observerthere are a number of topics that lend themselves very well to mock trials. For example Mary Tudor’s reputation, the execution of Charles I, Guy Fawkes and the murder of Thomas Beckett. I have also used Mock Trials when teaching PSHCEE. Inparticular when looking at crime and punishment, which is exactly what I am doing with year 9 at the moment.

To set up the activity we have looked at the way the court system in the UK works along with discussions about the punishments that are available to our courts. In this module I have adapted a case that was used in the Bar Mock Trail a few years ago (no need to reinvent the wheel after all). The class is split into 4 groups (2 prosecution and 2 defence), they then randomly select the role that they will play, lawyer, witness, defendant etc. Each group is then given the witness statements and information on the case.

Each group then has to read the information and formulate a plan to prove either guilt on innocence. they will need to find holes in the oppositions evidence as well as formulate questions to ask both their own witnesses and those of the opposition. I give one lesson for setting up and preparation. The following lesson the students then have their “Day in court”. Because I have 4 groups the two which are not part of the trial at that point form the jury with me as the judge.

This activity can be easily differentiated depending on the ability of your groups by the amount of guidance you give them during the prep phase. I have 3 year 9 groups all middling to high ability so hopefully the level of input from me will be minimal.

I will let you know how it goes once we get to the actual trial – next week possibly, but I am quite excited about it.

Homework Check

This is a great activity to use when you just need 5 minutes at the start of lesson to get yourself sorted. If you are

like me and teach in a number of different classrooms throughout the day, you can sometimes arrive at your room to find the class waiting for you and no time to sort yourself out before you get them in. This activity allows you to get them in and doing something with little input from you (once they are sued to doing it that is).

It is a simple activity that incorporates peer assessment and assessment for learning into one tidy package (great if OFSTED are in).me and you teach in a number of classrooms, this can be a lifesaver. The number of times I have rushed to my classroom to find my group already there waiting outside so I have no time to get myself sorted before they come in. In these situations the Homework Check is great. It is also great if you have forgotten that you need to set homework for that group and need to think of something meaningful and topic related for them to do for homework that night.

How it works is that the students switch homework with someone else in the class, I use prep booklets with my Key Stage 3 groups which makes this even easier, the students then use the success criteria for that activity and the schools marking symbols to mark the work. They then give it a grade (we use a 1 – 4 system) and use the 2 stars and wish to give feedback. This is then handed back to the author of the work who then has that nights homework session to improve the work based on the feedback their classmate has given them.

Each term I set up “Assessment Pairs” which are pairs of students who will mark each others work when we do peer assessment. These pairs are based on data that I have, such as CATS, SENd data, Marks from assessments, target grades etc. I try to pair a weaker student with a more able so that the low ability student can see what a good piece of work looks like and the more able is able to support the weaker students. This also helps to prevent the marking a friendship rather then marking the work situation.

Besides students just love the opportunity to bring out the coloured pens – or maybe that’s just my lot 🙂


AfL – Effective Feedback, Positive Influence, Active Involvement

SEAL – Motivation , Social Skills

ECM – Enjoying & Achieving, Positive Contribution

PLTS – Reflective Learners, Effective Participators

Purpose – Review, Reflection,

Minion Beach Run – Quiz



I think they are great and so cute so I wanted to try and find a way to get them into my lesson. The perfect opportunity came up when I was putting together a revision quiz for my Year 13 students to do the lesson before their mock exam.

I found a PowerPoint quiz online which used beach buggy’s to race across the screen. Every time a player got a question right you clicked on the buggy and it moved forward a little. I really liked this idea so adapted it to be Minions running across the beach instead of buggy’s.

I only have 6 students in my year 13 class so it was easy to have each one as a different Minion, but you could put the students into teams as well. As I have a set of buzzers that I like to use, I gave each of the students a buzzer (you can find these quite cheaply online) and read out the questions and the first to buzz in got to answer. If they answered correctly then their Minion moved forward. They needed to get 9 correct answers to win. With this class not one of them managed to get all the way across the beach so I had to eat the cupcake that was the prize myself – oh well 😛

The quiz worked really well overall (other then the students realising they had a hell of a lot of revision to do before their mock) and I will be using it again soon but this time with my Year 12 students to test their understanding of Research Methods.

I think that using quizzes in lessons as part of the revision process is a great way for the students to identify areas that they are not so sure about, especially if you categorize the questions into subtopics. Its also quite fun to see the students get really competitive with each other.


AfL – Effective Feedback, Positive Influence, Active Involvement

SEAL – Motivation , Social Skills

ECM – Enjoying & Achieving, Positive Contribution

PLTS – Independent Learners, Reflective Learners, Team Workers, Effective Participators

Purpose – Review, Reflection, Consolidation, Assessment