With a return to exams for the first time in three years, the brand new course offers guidance on how to help students reach the highest grades in GCSE English Language. The day will explore high impact strategies for the purpose of raising attainment and support students to access the top marks in examinations from the perspective of an experienced examiners.

You will leave equipped with a deepened understanding of the features of high level responses, learning and assessment practice as well as feedback from the most recent exams. In addition the course includes access to a range of pedagogy and practical strategies that will enable you to meet the needs of your most able students and ultimately increase 7-9 grade attainment.


  • Develop your understanding of the features of high level responses
  • Explore how ‘big ideas’ enrich responses to both Reading and Writing tasks
  • Share first-hand the experience and expertise of a senior examiner
  • Broaden your perspective by reading a range of high level student responses
  • Take away valuable written guidance on typical features and levels of comment
  • Teachers facing the challenge of higher ability students in their classes
  • Teachers focusing on improving performance in GCSE English Language assessments
  • Teachers seeking insights into the examiner’s perspective
  • Teachers looking for a more inspirational and conceptualised approach to their teaching
DATE London | Thursday 25 November 2021
London | Friday 4 February 2022
IN-SCHOOL You can also book this as an In-School Course
  • You will receive a specially prepared file electronically containing detailed notes, and teaching materials and resources which will be of immediate practical benefit in the classroom.
  • Expert produced PowerPoint presentations
  • CPD Certificate of attendance

10.00 – 11.00am: Perceptive and Detailed: What makes Grades 7 to 9?

  • What do ‘detailed’ and ‘perceptive’ mean? Two ways to reach top grades
  • Engaging with the vocabulary of the mark scheme
  • Gain awareness of what success looks like for 7- 9 grade students

11-11.15am: Morning break


11.15 – 12.00pm: Reading Strategies: Inferential Understanding and Synthesis (AO1)

  • Active reading strategies: before, during and after reading
  • Strategies to Secure the smaller tariff questions
  • Using ‘big ideas’ to interpret unseen texts
  • Apples and pears: selecting ‘like for like’ comparisons

12.00 – 12.45pm: Developing Comment on Effects: Language and Structure (AO2)

  • What is the ‘effect’ of language?
  • Analysing metaphor in detail
  • Beyond chronology: exploring narrative dynamics
  • Structure in non-fiction texts- methods to develop responses at grades 7-9


12.45 – 1.45pm: Lunch 


1.45 – 2.45pm:    Writers at Work: Evaluation and Comparison (AO3/4)

  • Evaluation: framing the response to P2 Q4
  • The writer at work: the importance of methods- Strategies to develop detailed discussion of writer’s methods and embed them flawlessly
  • Ideas and perspectives: Strategies to improve application skills for comparison questions
  • Drawing on ‘big ideas’ to enrich responses: what’s the writer’s message?

2.45 – 3.45pm: Convincing Communication: The Craft of Writing (AO5/6)

  • What makes writing ‘convincing’?
  • Exploring features of narrative, descriptive and rhetorical writing
  • Developing an individual voice- strategies to develop this.
  • Shaping conceptualised responses
  • Crafting language: making sentences work for variety and effect

3.45pm: Depart

Helen Backhouse

Helen Backhouse is a teacher, trainer and examiner who has been involved in English education and assessment for 25 years. She is a senior examiner for GCSE English Language, writing exam material and training thousands of examiners. She has authored a number of textbooks, supporting students’ progress in English Language and Literature at KS3 and KS4.