A doll’s house: Essay sound files

Last year I posted a number of recordings of my students presenting their essays to the class.  I still value this as a mechanism to focus their minds with regards to the clarity of the written word, as well as the content of the work.  For the OCR A level they are reading Ibsen alongside Chaucer and references will be made to both writers.

This post will develop over the weeks.

Tasvin on Nora in the early pages of the play:



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Approaching English Literature Coursework: Edexcel IGCSE

A powerpoint and a link to the department You Tube channel.  I am giving a short give-back talk on Thursday for Year 11….


A bit Polonius like, but that’s the way things roll…

The sound file from the session: 


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Jerusalem class blog comments

Studying Butterworth’s Jerusalem in yr 12, I am trying to engage my class in the idea of sharing independent work… we have no formal class blog as yet and i am using the blog feature on our Firefly VLE.  Here is a sample…

This is your space

Use this space to explore the nature of Englishness:  NIMBYism, Xenophobia, jingoism, aggression, pride in heritage, love of the country, patriotism…  Nothing is irrelevant… read widely and post.

By all means start here, but move beyond! https://jwpblog.wordpress.com/tag/jerusalem/


    1. I’ve done a bit of research on NIMByism
      NIMBY: This is an acronym for ‘not in my back yard’
      It is defined as – Opposition from residents to a new development in the local area

      Could this imply that it is ‘English’ to only actively oppose developments that are taking place on our doorstep and not to others? It may appear selfish, or understandable as if we are not effected, why should we get involved? It could be seen as a good thing as British people are prepared to protect what they feel is their property, and this could come under ‘Englishness.’

      An example of this comes from this article –https://www.theguardian.com/commentisfree/2014/jun/26/fields-england-postwar-countryside-englishness

      Andrew Motion feels the fields of old England are being lost, as houses are being built on the land. He feels that Englishness lies in the traditional countryside and that it is being lost.

      He feels the countryside should be preserved as it quintessentially represents Britain and that it is our heritage, which he is protecting, as he does not want it to be destroyed. It appears that he feels he is being ‘English’ by opposing the loss of our iconic British countryside.

      Following on from our discussion today, we could say that our local areas would be ‘damaged’ if travellers moved there, if they drop litter, or if they are unsociable, which is why people would not appreciate it. This is another example of NIMByism.

      The faded cross of St George on the curtain at the beginning of ‘Jerusalem’ represents this pride in our heritage and suggests that it is fading but in a different circumstance to what Andrew Motion is proposing, showing that NIMByism and pride don’t mean the same thing for everyone.

      Hope this was helpful… part of me isn’t sure that I know what I’m writing about

      POSTED BY  08/09/2016 AT 19:52


    2. I looked into the Patriotism side of things, and there are many instances in sport (football being the most common as well as infrequent and smaller rugby incidences) that show national fans causing trouble and violently clashing with police or other national fans. These cases often end in arrests, hospitalisations and banishment from the game. Several articles blame excessive drinking and peer pressure, while others say there has been a reoccurring issue through the history of football with English fans causing violence.

      Examples of this nature include:



      Perhaps english fans are violent because they want to proudly display their patriotism and ‘englishness’ to their opponents, and they think by being involved in violent clashes they are defending their country’s honour against ‘foreigners’. However this would lead to another possibility that football hooliganism has become and integral part of english sport and as sport can be considered and ‘english’ pass time, the violence, excessive drinking and peer pressure that accompanies it is also an attribute of ‘englishness’.

      If this is the case, we can associate this behaviour and begin to understand why characters may act the way they do in the play Jerusalem, such as Rooster standing tall (as if proud) on the front cover, with a suspicious looking cigarette in his mouth. This could suggest he is clearly doing the wrong thing (drugs or in the case of sports fans, being violent) but he is keen to boast his bad habit as it makes him feel important (potentially for the same reason english fans do when displaying their patriotism through violence at a sporting event). Therefore characters could be acting the way they do as they are mirroring the actions of several english sports fans meanwhile demonstrating ‘englishness’.

      POSTED BY  08/09/2016 AT 21:41


    3. I’ve decided to look into the pride of heritage we have and the notion that perhaps we are beginning to neglect our culture and heritage.

      I was reading an article in The Telegraph (http://www.telegraph.co.uk/news/2016/09/10/traditions-such-as-christmas-celebrations-will-die-out-unless-pe/) which explores the idea that immigration may be the reason that we are losing our ‘Englishness’.

      When you think about it, it’s completely understandable, with so many other religions and cultures that are practised in England is it any wonder that English traditions are put to one side? For example, one community centre called a Christmas tree a “festive tree” so they didn’t cause offence to Muslim or Asian workers. I understand showing respect for someone else’s religion and culture but surely this is taking it too far. Perhaps this is why residents of an area feel unsettled and restless when people of a different ethnicity or religion move into the same area- they don’t like the change.

      Like Harpal said, the faded cross of St George in ‘Jerusalem’ demonstrates the pride in our heritage fading and maybe we should be more concerned with losing our heritage than we are at the moment because heritage is so important, especially to a place like Britain.

      Hope this was helpful

      POSTED BY , SUNDAY AT 12:44


    4. I did some research on xenophobia and racism and how it relates to the nature of Englishness. During my research I came upon this article http://www.huffingtonpost.co.uk/entry/racism-after-brexit-attacks-muslims-leave_uk_57766dc8e4b0f7b55795302d

      The article talks about the rise in racism after Brexit and that the idea of Englishness is becoming more white and Christian. It also mentions that its more a kind of celebratory racism, as if its in celebration that white England has finally got something. This also demonstrates how violence is a part of Englishness possibly because that the English like to show how proud and defensive they are of their own country even if that means incorporating violence and xenophobic/racist hate crimes. This xenophobic abuse however could be more expressive and about expressing dominance to show how great England is and convey the message that the English don’t want to let other cultures, religions, people etc. significantly impact the English culture and allow others to take its place.

      Furthermore the article raises the point that the majority of ethnic minorities and the majority of minority religions would say that they’re British but they wouldn’t say that they’re English. A sort of national identity shift has happened that has given Englishness a white racialised meaning to many people.

      Linking all of this to “Jerusalem” we can see this dominant male figure in Johnny “Rooster” Byron where he gets into many fights and is a drug dealer and a habitual drunked. He sort of fits into this mold of the stereotypical example of the violent, xenophobic part of Englishness.



    5. I’ve decided to look at the development of a new type of ‘Englishness’ developing and whether it can really be considered English or whether we are indeed losing sight of what makes actually us English.

      The 2011 Census featured 70% of people living in England identifying as English, with the majority of people identifying solely as English rather than British as well. The vast majority of people identifying as English, raises the question, what really causes us to identify as English? In an article written by Tristram Hunt, which calls for Labour to embrace ‘Englishness’, he states a love for our landscape, culture, history, humour and literature are key features of Englishness and for a true appreciation of these features many would agree that you would have to look back and have an understanding of the country’s history. A country described as ‘rebellious, independent and resistant to European Civilisation’ putting emphasis on our sovereignty and the belief that we are a strong, independent nation. This seems especially relevant considering the result of the EU Referendum, in which the majority of the English electorate voted to leave. Looking back through history, this rebellion from the European continent, may correspond with what many see as English due to previous relations with the continent.

      “You can clutch the past so tightly to your chest that it leaves your arms too full to embrace the present.”- Jan Glidewell

      In another article written by Tariq Masood it is argued that ‘Englishness’ should not be solely nostalgic. He states basing ‘Englishness’ exclusively on heritage can be seen as ethnic nationalism- Anglo-Saxonism. Indeed, to some ‘Englishness’ is seen as an ethnic label which detracts from multiculturalism, due to the paradigm that an ‘English’ person is white. Perhaps this is due to the nostalgic element of ‘Englishness’ involving focus on time periods where the country was not as ethnically diverse as it is currently and is therefore not representative of England as a country now. Such strong emphasis on heritage can lead to nationalism manifesting itself in xenophobia, a prominent feature after the EU Referendum result. Surely this is outdated looking at the ethnically diverse country England is now and cannot be considered English. Or would it be argued that this problem has only arisen due to being infiltrated by the continent and that such actions are continuing the tradition of rebelling from the continent?

      Tariq Masood begins his article by stating Multiculturalism can foster a new kind of Englishness. This new type of Englishness would perhaps be more representative of England as a country now and erode the stigma of “Englishness’” being exclusively white. However, can we really forget how we came to be this great country? While the faded St.Georges cross may represent the country losing sight of what makes it ‘English’ perhaps it can also represent the population finding new and alternative ways to identify as English. That ‘Englishness’ is no longer concentrated on a single figure, giving the appearance that it is fading, while it is actually getting stronger. Or are we in fact losing sight of what is English?

      Hope this was useful,
      Articles that I used:



    6. I thought what Seb said was interesting; but I do slightly disagree on the idea that Johnny is prominently depicted as an ‘English’ citizen. Although Johnny is written as an intimidating, boisterous drug-abuser, it is important to remember that he is still the definition of an ‘outsider.’
      Rejected by society (although not wrongfully), and loathed by his own community, I believe that Johnny represents something other than Englishness. He represents a generation of people, that should be accepted in to an English society, but aren’t. Obviously, the amount of trouble Johnny causes makes him a lot easier to loathe; with violent outbursts, and exhibitions of a horrific nature (think back to the whole ‘pig’ scene), Johnny is justifiably exiled from the rest of the county. However, one cannot help but ask, that should Johnny be born with a purely English identity, would he be frowned upon with such severity by the majority of the town? Does the fact that he has no nationality (and therefore, arguably, no identity), make him easier to judge and despise? And, even in class, were we already judging Johnny by the way he lives as a traveller, even before we’d heard all the horrific stories about him?
      Because, if we consider Johnny’s physical appearance, he is a stereotypical Englishman. Even without looking at the front cover of our scripts, we can infer from the nickname “Rooster”, that he is a strong, white man who acts, at times, in an outrageous, and often barbaric manner. Add in the image we have of Rylance (a man with a broad chest and tattoos), and there is no doubt that Johnny does look, and act, like an Englishman. However, the defining conclusion, is that Johnny will never be English, because of this constant lack of identity. Maybe the simple fact that he doesn’t even own a home is key in people almost expelling him from society, and that, in itself, shows you the slightly naïve, and pretentious attitude that’s adopted by the English with regard to foreign adversary.
      Overall, I just wanted to add something to this chat which symbolised how I’ve interpreted peoples opinions towards Johnny. Having read Lami and Harpal’s articles, I’ve tried to incorporate typically ‘English’ attitudes in to the context of the play, and this is what I came up with. From what I’ve read so far, Johnny isn’t regarded as a member of the community; the fact that he lives on his own in a wood shows us how isolated and secluded he physically is from the rest of the town. But it was interesting for me to discuss and figure out why (apart from the obvious reasons) he has been exiled from the public, and if his lack of identity has played a big part in that.



    7. I quite agree with what Tom has said here, and I think that Johnny is English literally, but those in the play don’t see him as English as they are too different to him. So in that respect he is an outsider, but whether he deserves to be is debatable. It could be argued that he cares about his friends? He is known for drug use and alcoholism, but that’s not too different from any other person (our age or not), as they just do this kind of thing from behind closed doors, and if it is found out it is usually kept quiet… It’s interesting as they all seem to be in the same boat in some ways, as (after what we read today – St Trinians, X Factor) none of the locals seem to be English – if English means being proud of their heritage. This then raises the question of what is Englishness, and who is English and who is not. St George himself wasn’t English, so again, they all could be in the same boat. Maybe none are truly English at all, and this idea has caused a whole lot of problems for Johnny.




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Y10 Macbeth to 1:4 sheets

Please print and save your material from today’s lesson – great work for 25 minutes.  Keep this up!




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Y9 learning wall resource: Disabled

Here are your notes on Setting in Owen’s poem…


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Setting in Veronica: Adewale Maja-Pierce

A short powerpoint to engage specifically in setting in this short story from Part 2 of the IGCSE anthology for Edexcel.


and my original ppt from 2012…


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Macbeth – beginning to write using PEARL

As with the war lit post earlier today – I know there are many ways of doing this.  My current group need some guidelines…:  pearling-macbeth

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Year 9 PEE to PEARL: War Lit

There is much discussion on Twitter about the best way to teach students to analyse.  The mighty @FKRitson is currently collating many ideas form a range of schools and i have sent my ha’p’orth on PEARL.  I know that instilling too rigid a structure can create rather mechanical responses, but I like this one – it works and the students can learn to move away from it over the next 3 years, as their confidence grows.


We are looking at a War Poetry selection.  This is to support their first writing.


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Writing a Personal Statement?

I am in the middle of helping tutees prepare personal statements for their UCAS entry.  These links to You Tube films may be of interest:

why statements are often rejected

Birmingham University

Imperial College – with a summary from 33 minutes

And on Plagiarism 

There is no magic bullet – every student and every university is different and there is a danger in writing an utterly formulaic response.  I hope you may use these along with whatever material your schools are issuing to help you.

Good Luck!

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Contexts in Jerusalem: WOMEN

This year OCR included a question about the presentation of women in Butterworth’s play.  In a play which is so masculine, the women can seem semi-peripheral – after all around Johnny Byron, everyone is somewhat reduced in presence.

I don’t want to write a model response to this question, but I thought some ideas might be useful to point students in the direction of a response.

Taken in turn, the women emerge as certain types:  Fawcett – powerful and dominant and a threat to Johnny’s idea of his future; Pea and Tanya – not just comic relief, but having to tone down their femininity in order to fit in; Dawn -the mother of Johnny’s child and still struggling with motherhood despite having a new partner.  She seems trapped by her child and by her fascination with Johnny and his drugs; Phaedra -victim, yes, but whose?

Fawcett:  from the outset, Fawcett is caught between femininity and the need to project something beyond her fundamental power due to her position.  Her first interaction with Parsons and Johnny shows her as powerful and commanding, yet also needing to apply her make up and later to look good for the camera.  Parsons assumes that she needs protection – “we can cut that out”  – rather than simply helping her to address Johnny in the manner required.  She is in charge and she is trying hard to show it.  Recently, studies of women in power and the perceptions of them have shown a marked difference in response to female authoritarians when compared to men  – women are “shrill, strident bitches” whereas men show authority: what we call women

It’s also clear that Johnny, who has little respect for anyone, sees Fawcett as someone who he needs to belittle.  There is humour in the Jack in the Beanstalk story of wandering hands in the stalls, but it hides another aspect of the unfair attitude to women shown by the patriarchy: Johnny’s sexual conquests are seen as heroic and as an aspect of his character which amuses and impresses the gathered group of “onlookers”.  Fawcett may have had an affair – the only evidence is the male’s wandering hands – yet Johnny uses this to attack her and to put her on the defensive.

This trait is seen in Pea and Tanya as well.  The two teenage friends first emerge from under the caravan covered in shit  – much innocent humour ensues as they try to identify the animal.  Gradually we see them as a pair but with one crucial difference. Tanya seems obsessed with the idea of giving Lee a “free one” before he goes.  It is as though her friendship is focused on achieving a “masculine” attitude to casual sex.  Interestingly Lee seems embarrassed by this and the audience pick up on the difficulty implied by a teenage girl who needs to use sex as a bartering tool for friendship.  Conversely, Pea does not engage with this banter at all.  She then becomes the victim of Troy’s vile sexist abuse – his use of sexual lexis is designed to scare and embarrass a girl who seems innocent.  It develops my thinking that he is a threat to Phaedra and to all innocent girls – a male who lust to desecrate purity is different to an amoral philanderer and these two allow the audience to pick up a crucial difference between Troy and Johnny.

In the deeply patriarchal woods, sex is the domain of the male – animal and predatory alike.  Women are not seen as more than sexual objects of desire.  However for Tanya to wish to act on her desire is enough for her to be an object of comedy – it is the pure “feminine” of Pea and Phaedra that is at risk of being defiled.

Dawn is of a different group.  we know little of the past relationship, yet it is clear by her use of Johnny’s real forename and of her care for him that there has been genuine affection between the two and that Marky is not simply the product of physicality alone – at least on Dawn’s part.  As ever, Johnny is enigmatic and is quick to use his power – “look into my eyes” – to achieve control over Dawn.  This is woman in thrall to man.  Dawn is trapped by her motherhood and her feminine gender in this man’s world.  Marky is an obstacle to her new relationship and a link to a past she would be better off without.  In the course of a single day she is let down by Johnny, takes drugs with him and then fails to keep Marky safe at the fair – he is able to wander off to the woods in Act 3 – the next generation of males is shown as swiftly moving away from his mother and seeming to cope well.  It is not clear, as he leaves the clearing in Act 3, where he is going – back to his mother may just as well refer to Nature – a wild “Byron boy”-  as to Dawn.

Finally Phaedra.  She is a victim of unwanted masculine sexual aggression.  As the Queen of the Fair she is objectivised as a sexual object despite her youth.  Indeed for many of the men who comment and who we assume saw her that day, her youth and innocence is the prime attraction for many, as Johnny is quick to point out to Troy – “is she in your dreams, boy?” Much of the text engages in tales of sexual congress and the notion of under-age sex is rife – Johnny and Wesley share the memory of losing their virginity at the age of 12.

What Phaedra introduces is the grey area between societal response and reality.  No one knows what has happened.  Much sexual abuse is undertaken by men known to the girls they prey upon.  It is rarer for the abuser to be outside the family unless the internet is being used to groom the victim.  This is not the case here.  Yet we tend to assume that Johnny must be in the wrong since she is in his caravan.  There is no direct evidence.  For me, Phaedra is used by Butterworth partly to focus on the issue of underage relationships as opposed to actual physical abuse.  She seems mature and dominates the short scene with Johnny prior to his branding – she leads him on, not sexually, but with a quiet assurance.  Troy has already shown himself to be a vile sexual bigot in his treatment of Pea, it seems fair to assume that the innocent and fragile Phaedra is precisely the sort of young girl on whom he might prey.  Johnny will bed half the adult female population of the town in the amoral manner of the alpha male leader of a pack of dogs.  I am not sure that the women who pay for his services as a decorator are victims, they know full well what they are letting themselves in for.  Phaedra has not reached this age and should not be needing to seek shelter from her step-father.  She is still young and fragile  – a child and a child who needs a St. George to protect her.

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