His solution was poetic justice. The English teacher, who plays in a band in his spare time and knows a little about recording, began making podcasts of poetry by acclaimed writers such as Seamus Heaney and Gillian Clarke.
"I'm particularly proud that one Year 11 student used great initiative in remixing one of the podcasts to gain better grades. It shows just what can be achieved by combining teaching with the latest technology," Mr Mcdermid said.
Now he is making the podcasts of exam board-approved poetry available to all teachers and pupils on a new website.