Achieving the top grades in OCR GCSE Classics requires broad and deep knowledge.  Students then need to apply this knowledge confidently and consistently across a range of question types.  Top level GCSE Classical Civilisation will also be expected to construct a successful argument in the extended response questions.  Typically, bright students can often underestimate the precision necessary for a very high score.  The highest grades also involve a careful interpretation of questions in the examination.  We will look at keeping the brightest students interested and motivated throughout the course.

This intensive course will demonstrate how to guide your students to maximise their potential in future OCR GCSE Classical Civilisation examinations.


  • Explore the key ideas behind the topics to enable the pupils to gain a more complete understanding of the specification
  • Develop the ability to discern quickly and accurately what an examiner wants
  • Increase awareness of what we should aim to achieve with the most able pupils
  • Take away fresh ideas, approaches and methods that challenge Grades 8/9 students and support their further development
  • Develop greater understanding of the precision and detail that examiners are looking for in Grades 8/9 students
  • Find out more about the barriers to progress and ways to support highly able students to overcome them
COURSE DATE Onlne | Monday 14 June 2021
  • Heads of Classics
  • Teachers of OCR GCSE Classical Civilisation
  • NQTs would also benefit from this course
  • Non-specialist teachers of Classical Civlisation
IN-SCHOOL You can also book this as an In-School Course
  • A specially prepared folder of detailed notes, practical advice and guidance
  • Notes prepared by the educational experts leading the course
  • Expert produced PowerPoint presentations
  • CPD Certificate of attendance


10.00 – 11.05am: Grades 8-9: what do they involve?

  • Key attributes of Grade 8-9 students in the classroom – how do we identify which pupils are capable getting the top grades?
  • Feedback and grading analysis of the 2019 papers and what this tells us about the standards at which top students are expected to meet
  • Analysis of the mark schemes – what were the examiners looking for? l Grades 8 – 9 – what are the differences between these?
  • Identifying the key aspects of the GCSE exam which will determine the highest grades and how to ensure that our pupils are prepared for these
  • How can we boost Grade 6-7 pupils?

11.05 – 11.25am: Discussion: coffee break

11.25 – 12.40pm: Teaching Paper 1: Thematic Study: key challenges for Grade 8-9 students

  • Creative approaches to learning the content-heavy course and keeping Grade 8/9 students motivated
  • Considering the sort of feedback we give to high ability pupils
  • Exploring responses, feedback, marking, analysis
  • Analysing extended response questions in the thematic study paper: where is an 8/9 achieved or lost?

12.40 – 1.40pm: Lunch and informal discussion

1.40 – 2.40pm: Teaching Paper 2: Literature and Culture: stretching and challenging able students 

  • Creative approaches to learning the literature in the close detail required for full marks
  • The advantages of looking outside the prescription – which stretch and challenge activities best impact responses
  • Writing Grade 8 /9 developed responses on literary style, how to build imagination
  • The extended response questions and the demands for Grade 8/9 students – those vital points

2.40 – 2.45pm: Discussion: afternoon tea

2.45 – 3.30pm: The Exams: tactics for achieving the highest grades

  • Looking closely at the different demands of each question
  • Tactics and timings for different questions and question types
  • Ensuring that candidates produce coherent responses which include enough detail
  • Reviewing, marking and feeding back on specimen scripts from Grades 8/9 pupils
  • Revision tips to ensure top level students succeed in the exams

Alastair Thorley

Alastair is the Head of Classics at Stockport Grammar School. The school has a department of four full-time Classics teachers. He teaches Latin and Classical Civilisation at all levels of the school. After its introduction 14 years ago, Classical Civilisation remains strong at the school with around 100 pupils studying the subject at GCSE and 40 continuing to AS/A Level. Alastair has taught GCSE Classical Civilisation for 17 years. In the last three years 76% of his pupils have achieved either A* or A.

He currently marks the Epic and Myth paper for OCR and AS Classical Civilisation for AQA. Alistair contributed to two of the Bloomsbury/OCR A Level Classical Civilisation text books: “Invention of the Barbarian” and “Love and Relationships”.

View all courses led by Alastair Thorley >