Why I love…Animal Farm: A blog collection

I’ve realised that I have quite a few blogs on Animal Farm. So, in order to keep them together and make them easy to reference/find. I’ve collated them here. Hope this is useful for others, who also teach and love Animal Farm.

Why I love…Planning & teaching a new to me text: Animal Farm

Why I love…Chapter One: Animal Farm – The exposition

Why I love…Chapter Two Animal Farm: Basic – Middle – Higher Examples

Why I love…Chapter 3 Reflections: Animal Farm

Why I love…Animal Farm ‘Home Learning’ work

Why I love…Reflecting & realising when I’ve cognitively overloaded students!

Why I love…Betrayal in Animal Farm

Animal Farm Loom Planning video


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Why I love…Trying to adapt for Y10. Moving to Language for home learning!

Tuesday 5th May, the Government announced that Year 10 would be allocated grades in the same way that we are doing for Y11. This meant a change of plan for us. Currently, Year 10 sit split entry Literature and Language. Literature is sat at the end of Year 10 for a plethora of reasons, that works in our context. However, this year that plan has been sent into turmoil due to the Covid19 pandemic.

This meant almost 3 weeks ago, we had a definite need to change plans for the way we were approaching home learning with Y10. Up until that point we were using the home learning as a way of consolidating and revising Literature. But, with no exam to prepare for, this obviously became irrelevant to the Year 10 students.

Through discussion and planning we decided to change our planning altogether. One of our concerns, like many schools, is ensuring students have the wider awareness of the world that they require in order to access the language exam. Cultural capital becomes King when we are thinking about preparing students for the language exam. This was the deciding factor for setting work between now and when the Year 10 students are able to come back into school. We were also mindful about trying not to increase the disadvantage gap. Like most schools at the moment, we have students who are hard to reach and who with the best will in the world may not be able to complete the work independently without the teacher guiding the students. With this in the back of our mind and also the recognition that students have been working really hard towards the Literature exam and then had the rug pulled from under them we decided to mix up our approach to language and to base the work around weekly topics that could benefit students cultural capital, be interesting and engaging and useful for the language GCSE and the exam, but which don’t explicitly teach Q1 – Q5 skills. The idea is that students who do the work benefit and gain wider knowledge but we are not attempting to teach new skills and new knowledge in an explicit GCSE exam driven manner. We wouldn’t start the GCSE like this in our introduction to Language in the classroom, so why would we do that from home?

We did begin with the idea of preparing students for the speaking and listening certificate from home, but abandoned this due to the logistical nightmare that this could be upon the return to school. Some students would have been completely prepared, while others might still need more teacher input. Therefore, although work had been prepared and was ‘ready to go’ for working from home on this, we took the decision not to go ahead with this. Why do I tell you this? Throughout the process, we have had to make decisions very quickly and sometimes what seems like a good idea, when looked at with fresh eyes is actually flawed. Thanks to @katiesuther for her pragmatism and advice here. Being flexible and open to suggestions has been key to ensuring that what we do in Year 10, until we are able to have students safely back in school, is the best possible ‘way forward’ in difficult circumstances.

How have we set up work? 

The basic premise is:

  • Topic based on Paper 2 looking at NonFiction
  • Some reading involved (articles related to the topic)
  • Documentary/Clips/Tedtalks linked to the topic
  • Tasks that are clearly labelled and scaffolded with timings
  • A scaffolded paragraph of writing to synthesise the learning
  • A google quiz to consolidate the learning and to reflect (thanks to the Google Forms queen @joanneduncalfe1 for these)
  • Colour coded to indicate what work some students must do, but what is extension work etc.

What does this look like?

It may vary. Week one was a google document. Week two was a PowerPoint.

We started with the Purpose of Education and laid out on the document why we were changing our approach. We had also notified parents and the students and the headteacher had already informed them too.

Week 1 – Purpose of Education Y10 Transition to Language – Colour

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We have found supporting students with Loom videos really useful and the following talks through the work: Moving onto Language – The purpose of Education

The feedback from week one in the Google Quiz also prompted a Loom video to support students in the planning aspect of NonFiction writing: Planning a NonFiction text as this was an area that came up as being consistently something students were uncertain about.

I have asked a few students if I can share their work and these are shared below with permission. I hope that these exemplify how this approach looks from a student perspective.


Student Work: 


Monday 11th May 2020

Task 1:

Initial thoughts. (5 minutes) 


  • What do you think the purpose of Education is?
    Answer this in a bullet point list to refer back to at the end.


  • To prepare us for our GCSES
  • So we can learn more about the world
  • So we can just have the knowledge we get from learning

Task 2

Read the following article. (10-15 minutes) 

  1. As you read, highlight any words or phrases that you don’t know or understand. Then, look them up in the dictionary and create a glossary of words that you have come across.
  • Reform – Making changes to something, to improve it
  • Implemented – Put a decision or plan into action/effect
  • Underperformance – To not perform as well as expected
  • Cohort – A group of people with a shared characteristic
  • Social Justice – Justice in terms of the distribution of wealth, opportunities and privileges in society.

Task 3:

Questions relating to the reading. (35 minutes) 

Answers all the questions, following the instructions. The questions start from the top of the article and follow down through the article.


  • What is the “greatest social justice cause”? Education


  • What do we need to do “regardless of their background”? Secure the highest standard of education


  • How many 6-year olds are on track to become confident readers? 100,000


  • What does Nick Gibb suggest is the reason for this?  Because of the hard work from the teachers.


  • Who does Nick Gibb say the Government will support to improve standards for all? The teachers


  • How many students are persistently absent from school? Two hundred thousand


  • How many children are attending ‘good’ or ‘outstanding’ schools? Over a million children


  • What does Nick Gibb want young people to be able to ‘secure’? A good job and a fulfilling career


  • What are the three purposes mentioned in the conclusion? Empowering young people to succeed in the economy, participate in culture and leave school prepared for adult life


  • Your thoughts and opinions. What do you think of Nick Gibb’s speech on the Purpose of Education? I think what Nick Gibb’s speech does is encourage teachers to work harder to provide a good education for students and for students to be resilient with their learning and do their best to achieve the more they can

Create a summary of what Nick Gibb is saying about Education in this video.



The government has done lots to reform education in order to make it more academic and rigorous. More children should have the same opportunities as the most wealthy people. Nick Gibb looks at a survey that compared the proportion of the acts that were educated in the independent sector, in 2010 it was 60% and in 2000 it was 40%. Music is a huge talent that is unexploited in this country because students don’t have the groundwork of learning about music.

Task 5:

Watch this clip: (20 minutes)

The TED Talk by John Hunter – https://youtu.be/0_UTgoPUTLQ

Entitled: The World Peace Game

Remember, as you are watching, pay attention to what is being said and avoid other distractions. You could make notes of the important points.

  • He teaches his students about the world’s problems.
  • He gives them each a planet and a list of crises from the world and asks them to solve them.
  • They all come together to debate and discuss solutions on how to solve these issues.
  • John Hunter said he would be happy to send his fourth graders to consult Al Gore because they were able to solve the problem of global warming in just one week.
  • He wanted to show everyone that teachers can let their students use their imagination whilst nurturing their minds to shape our world for their better as eventually they will need to do.

Task 6: 

A summary (20 minutes) 


  • Summarise what John Hunter was saying about education and educators. Use the information on how to summarise from task 4 to help you.


John Hunter teaches his students about the world’s problems by giving them each a planet and a list of crises from the world and asks them to solve them. They all come together to debate and discuss solutions on how to solve these issues. John Hunter said he would be happy to send his fourth graders to consult Al Gore because they were able to solve the problem of global warming in just one week. Teachers can let their students use their imagination whilst nurturing their minds to shape our world for their better as eventually they will need to do.


  • What is John Hunter passionate about? 


He is passionate about educating young people about the world whilst letting them use their imagination as they are only young and need to be creative. Their creativity enables them to think of unimaginable solutions that educators couldn’t think of themselves.

Task 8:

Writing Task (1 hour) 

Based on everything you have worked on this week and the information you have learnt. You will not have to create the whole article.

You have been given the following statement and task focus to support the statement: 

“The purpose of Education is completely relevant to young people in today’s society. Schools, colleges and educational establishments should be afforded more recognition for the excellent work they do.” 

You have been asked to write an article addressing the points made in the statement to send to the Minister for Education with your thoughts and opinions on this. Students were asked to write a paragraph.


Education is completely relevant to young people today because:

  • Every young person deserves the same opportunities no matter how wealthy you are.
  • School and education gives young people the chance to socialise with friends.
  • Education builds skills including confidence

Why it’s relevant:

  • Everyone deserves the same opportunities because how much money you have shouldn’t decide what you can and can’t do when it comes to your education.
  • Socialising with friends is important because it allows students to have fun and also learn things from different people and possibly cultures meaning you can see things from different perspectives.
  • Building skills is important because they can all be very useful in the future for jobs and also they are just good to have to interact with people.


  • The government helps by providing money to less fortunate schools so they are able to give their students the same chances and experiences as wealthier schools.
  • The media are overall supportive of education and schools, however they could show it more by promoting it. On social media platforms such as twitter and instagram, influencers could encourage and share their positive thoughts on education.
  • Education allows students to experience lots of different things such as creative lessons. For example some schools provide music, drama, catering, business or computing lessons to their students.

Education and schools are completely relevant to young people today because it gives them the chance to socialise with their friends and people outside of their house. Have you considered how socialising with friends can actually benefit students massively? See, this can build their confidence in themselves and allow them to achieve greater things as they grow and develop as a person. They can carry these skills with them as they work through their time at school and use them as they go through life, such as, interviews, further education, jobs or even day-to-day life. This is very important in education as talking to friends is a way of relaxing and letting out some of their stress or anxiety they may have. By doing this, they are able to become a happier person and by being happier they are willing to work harder and achieve more. Schools, colleges and educational establishments should be afforded more recognition for the excellent work that they do because they provide amazing opportunities for their students. Some schools provide lessons such as music, which help kids to learn an instrument or become a part of a choir or band, catering lessons, which help students learn the world of the food industry and what skills they need to succeed in it, and many more. I urge you to award recognition to all the education establishments and the staff within them  because they are helping the future generation prepare for the difficulties of the world.


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These responses to the ‘Purpose of Education’ were heartwarming to read and I hope that this has been interesting.

Why I love…Hope as inspired by #WomenEd for #DailyWritingChallenge

#WomedEd Leadmeet 18th May 2020 – A session which gave me hope.

Tonight, I met virtually with 300 other women to listen, learn, reflect and be inspired by a plethora of strong women, who are not afraid to have their voices heard. Some of these women know what it can be like to have the guilt of not doing enough or being enough. They banish that guilt @zssnas (No 3 in the tips from Zara) or remind themselves that they are enough.

It gave me hope. Hope that this guilt will be banished for good. Not only from myself, but from my own daughter and every other female that I come into contact with, not only in my professional life, but in my personal life too. It made me question why I have allowed myself to be consumed by that guilt and the voices inside telling me I’m not good enough, or I’m not good enough. We’ve all done it. I’m sure we all do it. Enough though. The strength of being a part of the #WomenEd movement is a reminder that we are all good enough. That what we bring to the table is enough.

It filled me with joy. To listen to these strong women reflect on the challenges and the same considerations that I have had over the period of lockdown about juggling personal and professional considerations. It made me feel part of a bigger community and that also gave me hope.

It reassured me. What we are putting in place at the moment for our students is helping. No, it isn’t perfect, however I recognised tonight that is a resounding feature of how most of us are feeling. We are working in a ‘time of emergency’ and with no blueprint for what we are doing. We have pulled together and worked together to ensure that our students are catered for to the best of our ability and we will continue to do so. At home we are currently healthy and safe and that is a blessing that I was once again reminded of by @MrsRileyEng when she spoke of the bereavement email that she has recently received. A sobering reflection on the human impact of this crisis and a reminder that we are all pulling together to ensure that we are doing what we can to support those students.

It made me reflect. @son1bon Sonia asked the question “Who/What is your shelter?” and this resonated. It reminded me how lucky I am. I have a network of friends and family and a wider professional network of support. It also made me think about the students who may not have those anchors and reminded me of my core purpose. @RealGeoffBarton was also quoted by @JillBerry1 from the Guardian at the weekend. I didn’t manage to write the full quote but the message was a reminder that school is not just academia but about the “human stuff, relationships”. Another reminder that what we do matters. What we do can inspire and change students lives, perhaps now more than ever.  I’m also looking forward as a result of Jill’s reminders about what we need to start planning for the future.
Overall, the sessions left me with a feeling of hope that this time will pass and what we learn from it will be put to good use in the future. So, thank you #WomenEd, @LyndsayBawden and @MrsSpalding. I arrived tired, a bit jaded from working in what can feel like a vacuum and left inspired, uplifted and full of hope.

Why I love…Animal Farm ‘Home Learning’ work

For Year 10, who were due to sit their exam in May, we have been setting our own classes work, although sharing the different resources and ideas on an email thread for all teachers to be able to share ideas or resources with their classes, if the tasks and ideas are transferable. We decided that we would do it this way, rather than setting all the same work across the year group, for a few reasons:

  1. Different classes study different texts
  2. Teachers know the make up of the students in the class and therefore want to keep ownership of what is being set from a differentiation point of view
  3. Teachers know where the ‘gaps’ in learning are for their own classes and are using the time and revision as an opportunity for these gaps to be addressed

So far, I have set Romeo and Juliet work, Unseen Poetry work, Anthology work, A Christmas Carol work and Animal Farm work. Each week I have rotated the Paper 1 and Paper 2 texts and mixed up the tasks, so that students are doing varied, purposeful revision to try to vary the way that they are thinking and avoid them from getting stuck into a rut.

For Animal Farm this week. I set Chapter 1 work, Chapter 5 work and Chapter 10 work, see attached word documents for what they looked like.

Chapter 1 – Animal Farm

Chapter 5 – Animal Farm

Chapter Ten – Animal Farm

Loom Video Referenced in Resource 1

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The rationale behind setting the work like this was to:

Offer a ‘hook’ into the text by giving the students an extract from the chapter to help them retrieve information about what happened in those chapters. I used the idea based on @katiesuther’s approach with Romeo and Juliet.

To consciously be thinking about what events take place in the start, middle and end of the book to reinforce their understanding of the structure of the novella.

Deliberately summarise the other chapters to retrieve information about what happens where in the book, so that they are focusing on the whole text. This was scaffolded by referencing them to the knowledge organisers, in case they needed this extra support.

Get them to think about vocabulary that we had introduced and used throughout the unit and then embed this in their work again.

Offer variety in the tasks that they are completing.

Scaffold questioning to get them thinking about key ideas that would be included in an essay.

Mind map to encourage making links.

Get students to think about higher level ideas – intentions etc.

Offer students the opportunity to critique Orwell’s views.

Next week, I am setting a Yes/No Quiz on Google Forms, which may at first seem simple but in the background has detailed explanations to the reason for the Yes/No answer. Hopefully, the Yes/No quiz will work in two ways: consolidate their understanding and throw up any misconceptions.

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Then, I’m going to ask them to use metacognitive techniques to unpick an example about the whole text as further consolidation of the Animal Farm revision. I’ll post that once it is sorted. After that, we’ll move back onto Romeo and Juliet.

I hope that this is a useful insight into how we and I have been working with year 10, during the lockdown. Any feedback is always welcome.

Why I love…The professionalism of my colleagues during Covid19

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This tweet from @AndrewAdonis has once again made me question the people in power, who say that they are working for the majority of the population, yet time and time again polarise society. This tweet has done that. It is polemic.

Once again, teachers and schools and the education system in general, are being used in an endless game of political maneuvering, point scoring and as a tool to gain influence. We should not be okay with this. I am not okay with this. In fact I want to put my ‘two pence’ worth in on this one. I am done with being told that I don’t work hard enough. That we don’t work hard enough. That the work that I do is not good enough. That the work we do is not good enough. Time and time again, we are reminded that society doesn’t value the work that teachers do.

We have collectively as a body of teachers: early years, primary, SEND, secondary and FE sprang into action to ensure the children in our care have lessons, resources and support in place from school to continue learning. We have put together resources, websites, advice, guidance in such a short space of time, that it seems unpleasant at best and downright ludicrous that we should be called upon to defend our professionalism, at a time when the support from Government, council and the opposition are so clearly lacking.

The strength of feeling within the Education community is unsurprising, given that we are currently worried about the students in our care, trying to create solutions to problems that are outwith our control and keep the children in our communities safe, fed and aware that we are still working with and for them. The school vouchers debacle has had leaders up and down the country frantic and frenzied with worry, having to apologise to parents time and time again, who have no other option but to wait for the ‘system’ to work appropriately. This needs questioning and investigation, but from what I can see there is no widespread outcry about this systemic failure. Instead, teachers and leaders and support staff, who are working within these constraints, are once again being criticised.

Just to be clear, there are massive initiatives taking place across the country from MATs and teachers, that draw together expertise and provide online lessons for students. These are brilliant and very welcome. However, in the void between that happening and in the meantime, individual schools stepped up and have provided a wealth of learning. Headteachers have directed school communities, in order to suit the context of the school, something that cannot be forgotten as “Context is King”.

Adonis calls for online lessons. There are some serious repercussions that such a bold and sweeping statement has. Online lessons live from homes have serious implications for students without proper access to IT, live online lessons have safeguarding issues something that cannot be underestimated, live online lessons are difficult to manage and do not and never will replicate learning in a classroom environment. However, again teachers have stepped up, creating instructional videos, learning new technology to help keep students going from home, which from my experience have been well received and appreciated by the students in my care. Booklets of resources have been sent out to students who have limited access to technology that have been created, scaffolded, differentiated in order to allow those students the same academic chances as their peers with technological access. Again, these have been well received and appreciated. Pastoral staff have been working continuously, ensuring that vulnerable learners are safe, that safeguarding issues are being flagged up and addressed, so that again we can keep the students in our care safe.  Teachers and leaders are working tirelessly, many with their own children at home, to create a semblance of normality within a time that is not normal.

Schools have been open, they are NOT SHUT, they have offered provision for the children of key workers. Staff have been in over Easter with the children of key workers. They have provided safety for some of the most vulnerable in society. This cannot be underestimated. Behind the scenes in schools up and down the country, school staff are working tirelessly and deserve better than this.

I’ve most likely left out ‘many’ examples of the ways in which schools have provided excellent opportunities and ‘good practice’ during this time.

“Many schools” is entirely subjective. Give me concrete examples and then counterbalance this with the “Many schools” who are offering examples of “good practice”.

“not providing adequate online learning” feels like clutching at straws and again is entirely subjective. Using the word “adequate” is derogatory and condescending and doesn’t offer any solutions. I’m going to use @Xris32’s words here: “Can you define proper education?” and “What have you done to support students and the national issue?”

Finally, during a time when we are trying to come together, work together and support each other and our students, you call upon Ofsted stating that is has ‘a key role to play in monitoring schools and highlighting examples of good and poor practice’. This appears to suggest that during a time when schools and leaders are already overburdened, worried and focusing on what is best for the children, they should also be concerned about being regulated for providing education with little time, guidance or support to prepare for. Once again, this shows how little regard the professionalism of an entire swathe of public servants has and undermines the profession with little thought, care or good faith.

Instead of calling for examples of poor practice and opening DMs for stories to corroborate the initial misguided and polemic tweet. Perhaps, Adonis could show some of the humility I have seen within my profession, apologise and recognise that supporting and thanking the efforts of the profession who have pulled together, continue to pull together and have supported the communities they work with and for, would have been a far better response than standing by a position that is frankly subjective and divisive.

School leaders, teachers and staff deserve to be recognised for the work they do and thanked. I am overwhelmed with gratitude for the work that my school and team have done so far, and feel sure that these sentiments will be replicated across the country.








Why I love…Wisdom #dailywritingchallenge

I’ve not written a blog for the #dailywritingchallenge since the return to work. Somehow, even though I’m at home, it seems busier than ever. I’m also in the process of writing up my NPQSL project, which is one way that I am seeking more wisdom, a better understanding of how school leadership works and some self-improvement into the mixing pot too.

When I saw the topic the prayer at the bottom of this post immediately came to mind (although I’ve mentioned before that I’m not overtly religious). This prayer is beautiful and it seems particularly apt for the situation at the moment.

Serenity (noun):  the state or quality of being serene, calm, or tranquil. 

Seems to me like a good state of mind to be seeking, especially when we have so little control.

Accept (verb): receive with approval or favour. 

At this time, knowing that this is the situation and this is not forever, but that this too will pass and we will be wiser, more caring and kinder (hopefully) as a result, that we will have learnt from this experience and have grown in wisdom.

Courage (noun): the quality of mind or spirit that enables a person to face difficulty, danger, pain, etc., without fear; bravery.

Being able to face each day, seems courageous to me at the moment, whether that is with a smile or not; just getting through this time however you can is an act of courage.

Wisdom (noun): the quality or state of being wise; knowledge of what is true or right coupled with just judgment as to action; sagacity, discernment, or insight.

This definition struck me. Wisdom is not being defined solely as knowledge based, but takes a more holistic approach. Wisdom is about your actions, your behaviours, your words, your thoughts and so much more. Seeking this type of wisdom seems to me only to be a good thing. I’ve always sought to improve myself academically and perhaps never appreciated that wisdom is so much more than just the academic.

I hope that this poem gives you a moment of serenity and reflection.

Serenity Prayer

God grant me the serenity
to accept the things I cannot change;
courage to change the things I can;
and wisdom to know the difference.Living one day at a time;
enjoying one moment at a time;
accepting hardships as the pathway to peace;
taking, as He did, this sinful world
as it is, not as I would have it;
trusting that He will make all things right
if I surrender to His Will;
that I may be reasonably happy in this life
and supremely happy with Him
forever in the next.
Reinhold Niebuhr (1892-1971)

Why I love…Wellbeing #dailywritingchallenge

Pre-teaching me was much better at well being than teacher me. Things that I always made time for were swallowed up in the days of working full-time and having a family and still trying to see friends (quite a few fell by the wayside). Time was the enemy. Now, time is not endless, I’m still working, but I’ve gained time. No commute means an extra hour and a half. An hour an half means some time for exercise and no bloody excuses!

I’ve always needed to exercise to keep in check certain things: my emotional wellbeing; my weight; my overthinking propensity; my work-life balance; my inability to switch off. I’ve always needed exercise to keep my brain from racing away with me and while on the outside I may seem calm, controlled and completely sorted, often inside I have a voice that eats away at me, making me worry and concerned.

Interestingly, these last few weeks have been good for wellbeing. Exercise, was once an absolutely integral part of my day and that has crept back in. I’m walking, or cycling, or doing some exercise class online most days and the creeping insidious voice is receding. Obviously, like everyone at the moment, I’m having moments or hours of anxiety but I recognise that these are out of my control and bigger than what was worrying me previously. What was worrying me previously, I recognise could have been kept in check with the feel good endorphins that exercise brings.

My plan is to remember this, when we return to school, and to use it to my advantage. I will exercise. I will remember that it is good for my body and my mind. I will exercise.