Tuesday, 2 January 2018

Marketing English Revision

Oh dear, we are on the path to the exams for Year 11 now. This week, I have been mainly thinking about revision and how I could get students revising more. If I am honest, I think I have got some bits of revision wrong. For the past few years, I gave each student a brown paper bag full of resources, including past papers, sample answers, revision cards, at Easter. Because I am nice, I even put some Haribo sweets in the bag as a sweetener. I did all this for the whole year group. My thinking was that each and every student in Easter would use the resources to revise. As with all things, the hardworking students used the resources and the non-hardworking students ate the sweets and then binned the bag. 

I think we should look at how producers market films. They tempt. They tease. They spoil the audience with a film. They don’t just dump the film in one week, expecting everyone to watch the film without any publicity. They pick the right time in the year to capture their audience. The precision to detail is immense. They make sure that the audience can’t forget the film and they build up that sense of hype and maintain it for a long period of time. Producers spend a year or months teasing the film before it is in the cinemas.

I think schools should look to film producers in how we promote revision. It should all be about the long game and not just quick solutions. Now, I am not expecting people to have teaser trailers at the end of an assembly or have themed merchandise in the school canteen. Don’t forget to pick up you Tiny Tim toy with each sandwich purchased this week. I just think we need to copy and mirror what marketing campaigns do. 
So, what are we doing this year?  Here’s some things we are doing to make revision topical and relevant. 

1:   Homework – loyalty points
We have made a booklet for Year 11 for each term. The booklet contains five practice questions for Language Paper 1, Language Paper 2, Romeo and Juliet, A Christmas Carol, Conflict Poetry, An Inspector Calls and Unseen Poetry. It also contains five activities for learning quotes, learning vocabulary, learning sentence structures, etc. The majority of these are taken from the AQA KS3 papers.

Students have to spend approximately 15 minutes completing the task. Mainly the emphasis is planning a response to a question. However, students can, if they want, write a response.

On the front of the booklet, is a grid. Students have to sign in a box every time they complete the revision.

Parents and teachers alike can observe how much revision has been done in that term. For each remaining term, there’s a booklet. We are no longer assuming they are revise. They can do it all at once or a bit each day.  

2: Revision cards – teaser campaign
We have a number of revision cards for the set texts. This year we are providing them a month before a mock exam. We are ‘dropping them’ as the media refer to a month before the mocks so that students are getting the clear message that they need to revise.

We are doing this for Year 10 and 11.

A later blog will have the revision cards in it. Oh, I am such a tease

3: Emails to parents – mass marketing 
This year we have sent an email to parents each term. Parents don’t need to know a lot. They need to know some important things. So this year, we have emailed parents the following things:

1: What is revision? An explanation of different revision strategies for revision using ‘The Learning Scientists’ Blog  

2: An electronic booklet – overview of each question on the exam paper

3: Guidance on how parents can support revision

4: An examiner’s style feedback on the mocks

4: Reminders – Film Posters
We are lucky to have the Show My Homework system. The great thing is that I am able to message students. And, what do I message? I message them the dates of the mocks and exams. The system them constantly reminds them of this. 

5: Lectures – Select Screenings
We invite a select number of students to lectures aimed at pushing for a Grade 9. The parents get the invite and then have to sign students up as there is a limited number of places. We do this across Years 10 and 11. Places are scarce, so be quick otherwise you will miss out.

6: Surgery -  Targeting specific audiences
We don’t really do extra lessons. Instead we have a surgery for a particular aspect students struggle with. However, we email certain students (well, their parents really) we feel need to work on that area based on teacher suggestion and mock results.

I am telling students and parents that students shouldn’t come to a revision session if they don’t know the key texts. They have had a year and a half learning the main texts and all too often ‘laziness’ is the problem. A student rocks up to a revision session hoping to get a bitesized version of the play / novel so they don’t have to work. We are spelling out to parents that students should be reading and reading the texts. If they don’t know it, read it and use notes and resources given.

I think we need a clear message. Students should be responsible for knowing and retaining the basics. 

7:  Redoing papers -  Personalised marketing  

We have posted to parents clean copies of exam papers, if we feel students have not put enough effort into a mock papers. The parent gets a nice little letter explaining that we think their child isn’t working hard enough and they need to work harder or they’ll not get the results they want in summer.

This works really well for us as it signals to parents that there child isn’t working hard enough.

8: Displays – Publicity
One thing we are going to do this term is put up lines and quotes from a certain poem in the English classrooms. No labels. No titles. Students are going to have to work out the poem of the week. Each week a different poem. Not everything needs to be big and labour intensive.

We all know how important revision is, but conveying that to students is important. Parents assume students are revising and know how to revise. Students assume that they know how to revise properly. I think schools should be working hard to stop assumptions. Facts. Not assumptions. What revision have they done? How have they revised?

I like the drip-feed principle. Remind students very term and month about revision. Remind parents regularly about revision and what students can do to revise and, more importantly, what does revision actually look like.

Revision needs a PR agent, darling. It is all about maximum exposure, darling. Give it more light, sweetie. Wonderful.

Thanks for reading,


P.S. Things might be a bit quiet for a bit as I work on my ‘Pop-up revision sessions’, ‘Romeo and Juliet’ revision themed flavoured drinks and work with the school canteen to rebrand the menus around ‘A Christmas Carol’. I am particularly pleased with the Cratchit burger, Scrooge semolina and Fezziwig’s triffle.  

1 comment:

  1. Thank you for sharing such valuable and helpful information, tips and knowledge. This gives me more insights on this. I would love to see more updates from you.

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