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Exemplar: Jonas’ outstanding Theme Study journal – The Futility of Power

Link to the original document:

The Corrupting Influence of Power, by Jonas



Preparation for the Examinations



The English Examinations are happening on the following dates:

  • TUESDAY 22nd May: Literature (a) – Of Mice and Men and Touching the Void
  • THURSDAY 24th May: Literature (b) – Poetry “Conflict” Comparison and Unfamiliar Poem
  • TUESDAY 29th May: Language – Non-Fiction Reading and Writing
The formal revision programme for these examinations runs as follows:
  1. Literature (a): Monday 21st May – All day
  2. Literature (b): Wednesday 23 May – All day
  3. Language: Friday 25th May – All day

Best Practice Preparation:

The best preparation you can do for these examinations is practice answering the prior exam questions. You have received a number of these from me in class, but if you need to find more, you can easily access past papers at the AQA English Language and English Literature sites. (It is often a good idea to have a look at old papers simply as a way to become more familiar with their format)

If you write practice papers on your online journal, I guarantee you will receive detailed written feedback from me – usually within minutes, but at most, within 24 hours.

Always contact or come and see me if you have questions.

There is a wealth of revision information online and many study guides that can help guide your prep – but at this stage one of the most important messages we can give you is to trust your own learning and knowledge and practise the WRITING side of the exam. Instead, go to your online journal and view some of your own past work and read the detailed feedback – making sure you understand your own personal next steps.

Personal Wellbeing:

Just like a big game, an examination asks a lot of you mentally and physically. Don’t let yourself down on the day by arriving late, tired or hungry. Get into the habit of eating a decent breakfast and get some decent sleep. Avoid excessive socialising in the weekends leading up to the big day – but still keep in mind that rest is as important as revision in the week leading up to a big exam.

Be positive. Remember all the impressive progress you’ve made. Believe in yourself. Pay close attention to the questions. Trust your own responses. Give evidence for everything.

Don’t get stressed that 11 years of your life and hundreds of thousands of pounds have been spent on educating you so that you can achieve in these few small examinations. Just be yourself – the smartest, most eloquent, most intelligent, version of yourself.

Definitely wear your best tie.


Poetry “Conflict Cluster” Practise Exercise – Prior Examination Question

Your homework – preferably online if possible – is to answer the following question (derived from a previous examination) and check it against the official examiner’s marking rubric published below.


Compare how poets present the effects of conflict in “Belfast Confetti” and one other poem from Conflict


Compare how poets present the experience of soldiers in ‘Bayonet Charge’ and one other poem from Conflict

What grade would it have been given?

Link to marking rubric

Jack’s Analysis of “Belfast Confetti”

Link to for all new materials for 2012 related to GCSE English Language and Literature

Belfast Confetti

The poem ‘Belfast Confetti’ depicts the aftermath of a bomb during the troubles that people in Belfast experienced. The title ‘Belfast Confetti’ is a title that has a dual meaning. On one hand the homemade bombs that the IRA used are referred to as Belfast confetti due to the nuts and bolts they put in for shrapnel. The second is more complex. Confetti is usually used in times of celebration such as weddings, which is strange as the poem is about something completely opposite to a celebration. It is usually thrown over the head of the bride and groom, so it rains down on them. Carson may be using that title to create a metaphor, the nuts and bolts flew over the head of people just as confetti does.

Carson presents the poem with extensive references to punctuation marks using words such as ‘Exclamation marks’ and ‘Sentence’. “It was raining exclamation marks” this is trying to depict the noises made by the falling shrapnel. Exclamation marks are used generally when someone is shouting or when a word needs to be emphasised. As you can imagine the noise of the bomb and the chaos it caused must have had a huge affect on the noises that were heard, people were screaming, sirens were going off and fires were blazing. So like the title you have to delve deeper into the meaning of these words which really give you an understanding of the poem. There is a chaos to the poem that matches this experience.

Ciaran Carson also does not present any type of metre or rhythm, this is because he wanted the poem to be seen and read with confusion like the people felt after the bomb was detonated. This gives the poem more reality than it would do if there was a clear structure to it.

Looking at most lines in the poem, we see a trend of paradoxes and dual meanings. For example “All the alleyways and side streets blocked with stops and colons” on the outside this line tells us that escape was blocked and there was no way out of the chaos. Although looking at the line with more depth we can discover that what is trying to be said is that there is no way to escape the violence in general. Using the word “stops” and “colons” could refer to the writers own beliefs. Carson may be trying to get a message across that all is being done to stop these attacks is through the Governments use of meetings and laws. Ironically, I believe the author is trying to say we need to tackle this violence with actions rather than letters and talks, hence the quote “Alleyways and side streets blocked by stops and colons” meaning escape is blocked by lack of action.

Another example of these paradoxes is the line “I know this labyrinth so well – Balaklava, Raglan, Inkerman, Odessa street” This quote tells us that the author has a connection to those streets and he knows his way around. Carson also compares the streets to a labyrinth. the word labyrinth is derived from Greek mythology, it was a place where a Man eating Minotaur lived and was said to be built like a maze. This tells us that the streets were like a maze ,probably due to the chaos, and that there were dead people around. We could associate the Minotaur with the bomb as it is the cause of the deaths and the streets to be its home as it is the place he kills.

To conclude I would like to explain to you what my view is on the overall message of the poem. The poems message is to educate the readers of what it was like to be involved in a bombing. I also believe that the poem is trying to get across a message of invasion. His hometown was getting destroyed in front of him and the only way he believed he could teach people about this was through poetry. The fact that he chose to express his emotions through poetry is a really great way of getting your point across, as not many people read a poem and look at what is on the surface they want to peel of the obvious and explore the unknown.

Weekend Wilfred Owen Practice

This weekend’s simple task is to write an extended paragraph explaining how Wilfred Owen in his poem “Futility” communicates his attitude towards the war. An advanced answer will include historical facts about Owen and WWI and anyone who wants to extend themselves can make an attempt at comparing Owen’s methods and ideas with those of Shakespeare in Henry V.
The more you do now, the better prepared you will be for Wednesday

Essay Practice

As a moment of coalescence in the process of responding to the novel “Touching the Void” the students have two periods to write an essay using questions from prior exam papers. The essay will then be marked  and used as a basis for an essay writing development workshop next week.

The students could select from the following Questions:


How does Simpson show how difficult it was for him on the mountain after he was injured?


How does the writer portray Simon in the book?


Choose a passage from the book which you find especially tense or exciting. Write about the methods Simpson uses to create tension or excitement in this passage.


What is the significance of the title in “Touching the Void”?

Touching the Void – Closer to the Text – Homework

These questions were started in class but need to be completed for homework. The idea being that the answer to the second question about tense can be expanded to allow a comparison with the film – which is more effective, and why?

Touching the Void – recent Class and Homework