Building a Culture of Revision


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Helen Sharpe

Helen works at The Radclyffe School in Oldham as English AST and Lead Teacher for Literacy. She has worked tirelessly to build a culture of reading through regular assemblies and whole-school initiatives while trialling and sharing best practice in pedagogy. Helen is passionate about curriculum...
Read more about Helen Sharpe

How can teachers kickstart a revision revolution in their schools?

When I was a student, there certainly wasn’t a culture of revision at my school.

“I crammed weeks before my exams…”

But I still revised. In fact, I studied incredibly hard for my final exams and got really good grades. I defied all the science (not that there was much of that in education at the time!) and crammed in the weeks before my GCSEs, rather than spacing out my revision or making it any kind of habit.

So, why do we need a revision revolution in schools if success can be achieved in this way?

Well, I was lucky. I was surrounded by positive influences: hard-working friends, supportive parents, even a private tutor. I was privileged. Not every student is afforded these advantages in life.

The above is an extract from the introduction of ‘The Revision Revolution’, published in January 2022, which has been described as ‘part manifesto, part practical handbook’. It is a call to arms for those working in education everywhere to revolutionise revision, empowering students of all abilities and backgrounds to succeed through the explicit teaching of effective study skills across the curriculum.

An outline for staff CPD…

In one section of the book, ‘Calling all Comrades’ a plan for staff CPD is suggested that problematises traditional methods of revision and describes how these need to change:

Traditional

  • Completing past papers
  • Re-reading notes
  • Highlighting
  • Cramming
  • Or possibly non-existent!
  • Last-minute interventions
  • After-school ‘free for alls’
  • Lots of pressure to revise
  • Little or no modelling of how to revise
The Revision Revolution

  • Retrieval
  • Dual-coding
  • Elaboration
  • Interleaving and spacing practice
  • Concrete examples
  • Desirable difficulties
  • Lifelong study skills
  • A regular habit with all strategies explicitly modelled to students across the school
  • Example resource embedding these ideas across the curriculum

In another section, ‘Junior Revolutionaries’, I advocate going back to basics with year 7 to demystify and debunk any negative notions of revision, looking at the morphology – the prefix ‘re’ means again and ‘vision’ is to look – so when we revise, we are simply ‘looking again’ at prior learning, not trying to pass a test or exam. We are just enjoying the process of learning as information begins to enter long-term memory…

There are three CPD sessions included inside the book along with several other resources to support your revolution. For example, a pastoral curriculum, parent handbook and range of assemblies to help bring all the ideas to life.

Embedding a revision revolution starts on the first day a pupil enters a school! It must be explicit throughout the entire school curriculum…


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