How classroom displays can improve GCSE results
If you walk into my classroom, you will see that there are very few empty spaces on the walls. Year 7’s disturbing yet brilliant doom paintings adorn one corner and Year 8's tea-stained trench letters hang on the walls between the windows. But the centrepiece of the displays is dedicated to my GCSE classes. Instead of exhibiting their work, these displays work for them.
I’m a history teacher at a secondary school in Hampshire and I’ve been on a mission this year to foster greater independence and resilience in my Year 11 students, particularly when it comes to revision. I want them to recognise that they could be doing more, doing something different, or at least making a start. Most importantly, I want them to take ownership of their revision.
The displays I have created are not a way of shifting responsibility away from me. They adhere to a comment made by an outstanding practitioner on my first placement of my PGCE, who said “there should be no secrets” when it comes to revision. In other words, pupils should not find revision difficult because they are hindered by access to resources.
My “GCSE hub” display gives my pupils access to past papers, revision quiz cards, thorough skeleton notes, advice on how to answer exam questions and revision checklists. So far, it is proving a popular display with my class. Pupils can sift through exam papers to find ones they have not taken home or use the revision quiz cards when they have finished a task early.
Potential to improve results
Displays like this make revision easier and more accessible to those who would otherwise find it a struggle. I do wonder how many pupils actually trawl through exam board websites looking for past papers after I mention it to them, especially now that reformed GCSEs are starting to take precedence on many of these sites. My guess is: not many. Instead, pupils can enjoy the takeaway element that the display provides and find everything that they need for their revision in one place.
Displays boards have great potential to help improve GCSE results. The pupils appreciate the work you have put in to help them and, from my experience, are willing to put in the revision time to pay you back. In making it easier for them to revise, I have limited the excuses for not doing revision.
Dan Kneller is a history teacher from Hampshire. He tweets from @Kneller88.