This course will demonstrate how to support and guide your students to achieve Grades 7-9 in Classical Civilisation GCSE examinations. Using examples of pupils’ work and model answers throughout, the course will look at the common features of examiner-friendly work across all units (Myth and Religion, Women in the Ancient World, The Homeric World, Roman City Life, War and Warfare).  The course will also demonstrate teaching approaches  to ancient literature and material culture, leading up to preparing pupils for the examinations.



  • Develop an understanding of the level descriptors and how pupils should apply them
  • Discuss sample answers at grade 7 – 9 to identify key characteristics, and the approach of the examiner
  • Increase awareness of why top students underachieve
  • Provide and discuss different ways of teaching a content-heavy course
  • Develop an understanding of the potential hazards students face when studying GCSE Classical Civilisation
COURSE DATE Online | Monday 15 November 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 – 10:30am: Feedback: What do the examiners want?

  • Look closely at the detail of the specification.
  • Consider the examiners’ reports and feedback given so far – what can we take from it into the classroom?
  • Common mistakes and understanding why the pupils make them.

10:30 – 11:15 am: Engaging 7-9 students to Achieve their Potential

  • What aspects of the course will particularly fire their imagination?
  • Effective differentiation techniques to hold their interest.
  • Using scaffolding but not inhibiting flair.
  • Key attributes of grade 7-9 students in the classroom and how to make the most of them.
  • Spotting under-achievers

11.15 – 11.30am : Discussion and morning break

11.30 – 12.30pm: Paper 1: Thematic Study (Myth and Religion/Women in the Ancient World):

  • Teaching approaches to the Myth and Religion and Women in the Ancient World which inspire and stretch students capable of achieving 7 – 9 grade
  • How to demonstrate depth of engagement and understanding of the texts.
  • Using a thematic approach to teaching the narrative
  •  Approaches to the  Extended Response questions

12:30 – 1.30pm: Lunch and informal discussion

1.30 – 2.30pm: Paper 2: Literature and Culture  -The Homeric World, Roman City Life, War and Warfare

  • Teaching to the key characteristics demonstrated by able students which examiners look for
  • How to support students in developing a personal response
  • Teaching approaches in Literature and Culture to broaden and stretch students’ learning into grade – 7 – 9 achievement 
  • Creative approaches to learning the literature in the necessary detail
  • Moving from who?/what?/how? to why? and so what? questions
  • A particular focus on the Extended Response questions

2:30 – 2.40 pm: Afternoon break and informal discussion

2.40– 3.15pm: Exams: Tactics for achieving the highest grades

  • What are the most common errors made by higher ability pupils?
  • Revision ideas to help pupils achieve the highest grades.
  • How to maximise the available time in the examination
  • Reviewing, marking and feeding back on specimen scripts
  • Giving good quality, specific feedback to students

3.15 – 3.30pm: Extension ideas for the most able GCSE Classicists

  • Achieving Grades 7 – 9 on the Extension
  • Different ideas to keep the pupils interested
  • Stretch and challenge without intimidation
  • Beyond the classroom and the curriculum: educational visits and trips
  • Looking ahead to Classics A Level

Session 2: 10.30 – 11.30am: Student recruitment

  • Key Stage 3: curricula to attract and retain students
  • Engaging interest in language work at GCSE
  • Engaging interest in literature work at GCSE
  • Stretch and challenge without intimidation
  • Developing the department as a physical space
  • Beyond the classroom and the curriculum: educational visits and trips
  • Promotion and advertisement using traditional and new media
  • Classics in a digital world
  • Classics and the twenty-first century child

3:30 – 3.45pm: Plenary and depart

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 >