Blag it…

“Blag it” is an idea I’d had for a while since seeing a colleague use something similar for revision sessions with A level kids.

I got a mark scheme for some AS level Anatomy & Physiology questions on effects of warm-up/cool-down. We use ExamQuest at our school (, if you haven’t got it installed already and have a spare £90ish, you need it!

For the question I decided to use, there were 12 potentially acceptable answers. I printed these answers off on cards, with a pack of 12 for each table of four.

The AS kids had not “learned” anything yet, they were attempting the task blind as a short starter activity. Using a stopwatch, students in each group had between 20 seconds and 1 minute (according to differentiated ability groups) to try and explain or “blag” how the answer on their card would be of benefit to a sport performer. Students were not allowed to “pass” or repeat what they had said – they had to fill that time with information they thought was relevant. For example; you might turn over a card saying “reduced blood viscosity”. How might this benefit a performer?

The concept behind the activity is not revolutionary or even nearly-new, but it reinforces a message I keep trying to get across to the kids “you might not know, but what do you think?” For some reason our kids seem to resign themselves to saying “I don’t know” and then moving on. I always find it frustrating when this happens in exams or mocks; the students leave a question blank or write a couple of lines, but when you question them (properly), they KNOW quite a lot of the answers.

Used as a connect/starter activity, Blag it works well with A level students; it can be funny, it can get them thinking and talking about the lesson ahead, it can get kids out of their comfort zone – which can seem strange bearing in mind they’re just talking to their mates.

The nice thing about the lesson from here on in was the fact that by attempting to “blag it” in the starter, the kids were already familiar with the key words & concepts, even if they didn’t fully understand them yet. When the “proper teaching” started, students could compare what they came up with and the “real answers”.

During this lesson, I went back to the cards as a review activity in the last 10 minutes. Students had to pick 3 cards they found difficult/impossible to Blag at the beginning of the lesson & try again with a partner. I wandered and listened in to what was being said – admittedly I focused on the lower ability students to make sure “they got it” – it was noticeable that the kids sounded more confident and genuinely had things to say. I’ll probably try this again as a review activity in the near future.

“Illegitimi non carborundum” PST

Delivering PE Controlled Assessment



At our school, staff are given the opportunity to join a Professional Enquiry Group (PEG) as part of our Wednesday afternoon CPD slot.

The “PEGs” have been around for a couple of years now at CLV but I must admit that I honestly just did not buy into the idea first time round. Too many buzzwords, too many bullsh***ers. (Blue sky thinking, looking through lenses, driving, scaffolding, unpacking etc).

However, fast forward to this current year and I have genuinely developed an interest in the area of differentiation – particularly in relation to PE controlled assessment. I decided to use this interest as the focus for my new Professional Enquiry. I presented my PEG last week to staff who were unfortunate enough to sign up to my session… Including the boss.





Our exam board is OCR and I must admit I was glad when they scrapped the old coursework because it was crap. We were constantly chasing bits of missing work; with lots of kids, it was simply a last minute job which meant nothing to them.

Cue the introduction of Controlled Assessment – both B452 & B454 units. The first is an “Analysing Lifestyle” assignment, requiring kids to compile data about a chosen individual (usually someone who isn’t that healthy, so they’ve plenty to write about) and then make sense of this data through written evaluation & recommendations.



My Focus


My kids bombed. Despite a couple of what I thought were thorough preparation lessons & adequate time to collect data and then write-up; results were poor. It was obvious that the kids simply had not fully understood what needed to be written into the assignment. Lots of these students were the kind who, in the past, would have generated masses of pages of detailed coursework; but when faced with 2 hours of unprompted writing, they bombed.

I wasn’t expecting perfection; plenty of my cohort had target grades of “D” (and a couple below), but even my geniuses had a shocker. Anyway, I had to ask “what the hell have I been teaching them?”. It was time to go back to the drawing board and look at how we delivered the preparatory phases of controlled assessment. This became the focus of my PEG project. The question I chose was “How can we effectively differentiate and deliver Controlled Assessment?”



1st tip – Don’t Cheat:


I re-read the rules regarding controlled assessment and made sure I wasn’t about to break any major laws by altering the way in which I introduced the next assignment. We’d had some exemplar work sent back from the moderator from the previous year – which included a 20/20 piece. There is nothing to suggest that pupils should not be shown examples of good quality work during the preparation phase of the controlled assessment process – so that’s what I based my project on.



Chunk it:


I split the assignment into 22 sub-sections and then found the relevant bits in the “perfect” assignment we’d got from the moderator. I photographed each relevant snippet from the assignment and blew up the paragraph of text onto A3 paper, together with a number corresponding with relevant part of the assignment. These A3 sheets were then positioned round the outside of the room.

The kids were each given a checklist which included a Y/N indication for each of the 22 key areas of the assignment. Pupils indicated whether or not they “got it” on the checklist before moving on.





Have a Go:


The next activity sheet required the kids to “have a go” at the areas they had highlighted as “N” or not understood. This was based on the principle of “you might not know, but what do you think?”





After attempting this activity, the kids were released from their desks to go and actively find the key information/examples from the 20 mark snippet sheets around the room.

The kids seemed to enjoy this. They didn’t simply go straight for the “right answer”, nor did they blindly copy down an exemplar quote, but rather they asked one another about what they had written, they found others with similar weaknesses in their understanding and attempted to solve problems themselves. The activity didn’t rely on me telling the kids what to do next, they were finding out and theorising for themselves.

Above all, the activity felt like the kids were doing it themselves – rather than me simply telling them what they should be doing. After all, differentiation for me is all about allowing the pupils to access the material for themselves and find out what it is they know and don’t know.



The Results:

The table below shows the raw marks for the 22 students in my group. Columns 1 and 2 show the mark/20 followed by % grades for each piece of work.  As you can see from the table, the group’s average % score for the 1st Controlled Assessment was a tad over 52%. The average for the 2nd Controlled Assessment, following this lesson was over 82%. An average increase of 30% per student is not to be sniffed at. I’ll not try and claim that it was all down to this style of delivery – CA2 is generally accepted as being a bit easier to engage with, but still, the results were excellent.





Where next?


I’d certainly like to differentiate this further by using a wider range of examples. We do have some weaker/middle/top exemplar work that’s now been moderated. It would be great to use a similar process with these pieces of work and let the kids judge where their efforts would fit in and allow them to monitor progress. It certainly isn’t the perfect system but it has potential to be tweeked and adapted to suit any assignment. Watch this space…



Presentation Mat – link to the “PEGs Mat” used in presentation