UK teachers

This section of my site is all things GCSE and A Level! Here you will find loads of practice papers to use, tips and ideas for what has worked in my classroom. For those of you that know me, I am passionate about creative writing and I love that it is now back as part of the GCSE. So I'll be chatting about creative writing, English Language and Literature GCSE, and A Level Literature. Enjoy!

Edexcel Paper 2

Non-fiction texts

A Minor Role

Here are a few practice papers for Paper 2, focussing on Q3 and Q6.  Some of the texts may look familiar from the *cough* IGCSE papers!  These are for the Edexcel spec.
Travelling Tough - Q3 and Q6
Sea Monster - Q3 and Q6
Outback rescue - Q3 and Q6
Lonely Fisherman - Q3 and Q6
Brian Keenan - Q3 and Q6

These texts are for Edexcel Language Paper 2 exams. You will recognise some of the articles from old iGCSE text. But here they are with some lovely new questions.

The Edexcel spec does have a few variances from AQA - so by all means mock up your own questions for AQA.

We are using these with year 9.  Year 10 and Year 11 ones to follow in a separate post.

Body Image - Obama girls and body image

Gender - Emma W

Marathon de Sables texts


Primary Proms - two information texts

South Africa texts

I love that we are getting some fresh blood through on the new GCSE and A Level syllabuses.  Well fresh-ish.  If you are teaching the Edexcel A level specification that you will have had to decide whether to go for their collection of modern poems from Poems of the Decade (Forward Press).

I love this collection.

UA Fanthorpe is one of my favourite poets - so if you are doing Edexcel - here are my lesson resources on A Minor Role.

A Minor Role lesson - LGE A Minor Role - hwk questions

A Minor Role lesson - LGE

Sophisticated Writing


Paper 1 extract

This set of scaffolded writing tasks is perfect to help students practise sophisticated writing for Paper 1.

It includes a very detailed series of instructions for writing sophisticated:

- vocabulary

- sentence openers

- sentence structures

- paragraphing

- literary techniques

Finally it gives students a really tight planning structure to help them stay focussed! 

Sophisticated Writing

I actually quite love the Edexcel evaluation question. There are so many of my students who struggle to write detailed close analysis but they can do a great job at explaining why a particular setting, event, or mood are interesting for the reader.

This is a structure response to Paper 1 Q4 using an extract from A Tale of Two Cities. It uses SITE (although we actually use MCSITE) and SPECS (for evaluative language)

Evaluation structured response

This Edexcel Paper 1 extract is from The Hounds of the Baskervilles and contains a very structured response for Q3 (analysis). We actually use this in our Year 9 SOW that we teach in Summer Half Term 2, by this point Year 9 have sat their exams and are ready for the challenge of GCSE. We teach them Paper 1 for the last six weeks of school.

Paper 1 extract focus on Q3

Edexcel Lit Conflict Anthology

My year 11s seem to really benefit from structured revision tasks - especially when it comes to the poetry anthology.

We teach the Conflict anthology and here is a quick 8 page revision booklet.
Conflict Anthology Revision

Edexcel Language Paper 2 Evaluation booklet

This booklet has 5 non-fiction extracts that help students work on understanding main idea of a text, the tone of a text, and the skill of evaluation (Edexcel style). The questions are structured so students should be able to work through them at home.

Non-Fiction Extracts Booklet​​​

Edexcel Language Paper 2 7a and 7b

Here are a few short passages that work well for quick 7a and 7b practice. We have tried to ensure that passages are short enough that they both fit on 1 page, along with questions. 

New York 7a and 7b

Growing Old 7a and 7b

Female War Journalists 7a and 7b

Climate Change 7a and 7b

If I Ruled the World 7a only


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Writing personal narrative (GCSE style)

Many of us looking at the new GCSE language papers are having to again (or perhaps for the first time) tackle the ‘autobiographical’ writing question.
Write about a time when you felt fear.
Write about your first experienced in a new place.

While there is no actual requirement to write in the first person in the mark scheme and I have yet to have an exam board answer the question – if a student wrote in the third person would they get marked down? – we do need to a way forward for autobiographical writing.

Unsurprisingly when teenagers write in the first person about their own experiences they sound like teenagers. They are young, they sound young. Even pupils who read widely don’t always have a strong internal narrative voice. Ask a year 7 boy, who has only ever read Diary of a Wimpy Kid and David Walliams books, to write a personal narrative and they will write about someone having their head flushed down the toilet. There will be lots of SHOUTY capitals and a million !!!!

So where to begin?

I have tried so many different ways to do good autobiographical writing in the last few years and this one has worked consistently. It’s not without danger though.

Write using someone else’s voice for a while, then write yourself.

In year 7 I have a mini-scheme of work looking at the diaries of Darwin and Conan-Doyle (during his adventuring years). One of the reasons I love these two writers is that they diaries are factual. Their writing style mirrors the what I hope for in narrative generally – more Hemingway and less Henry James. We have already taught our students to ‘write like a scientist’ and this gives them a new opportunity to try it out. We take the Darwin style and the Conan-Doyle adventure and have them report on a shark attack at sea, or being accosted by savages, or experiencing an earthquake at sea. We peel back all the emotive language, ignoring subjective commentary and make clear observations as Darwin or Conan-Doyle.

Here's an example I showed at #TLLeeds of a piece of writing done in this style.

sneak peek 2

While it is not the student’s own history, it is a better example of personal narrative writing than I usually see in KS3. Here is our starting point.

Fast forward to Year 9 and Year 10, how do we do good exam writing preparation? Again we begin with writing personal narrative for others. Here (Personal narratives - blog version) is a series of lessons (I use it very flexibly as a collection of writing prompts) where students write personal narratives for a favourite character from an existing story. It culminates in a short story called The Search, where the character is looking for something.

As with all writing, I work alongside pupils. You can see my plan for Don T’s search for coffee and love at the end. I do have the written up version somewhere which I will dig out.

We had some fabulous examples of this from Year 10:

  1. Mr Utterson, working at a conference as an usher, is looking for a delegate to give her a message.
  2. An aged Draco Malfoy is looking for his 5 metre swimming certificate to take to a job interview.
  3. Tinkerbell, who works as a dental nurse, loses her bag on the tube.

So when we have a plan, we work out how we can withhold the character identity long enough to engage the audiences’ interest. Utterson became simply Gabe. Draco: Drake. Tinkerbell: Belle.


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