Suitable plays for GCSE Drama

Solving the problem of finding suitable plays that meet GCSE Drama exam board criteria

One of the most frustrating and time consuming problems associated with GCSE drama classes is the seeking out of suitable plays for the students to perform.

There are, of course, many plays around, but not so many that have the right amount of engagement per candidate and the right number of pupils involved within the cast.

What’s more, given the restriction that some exam boards now impose on the taking of scenes from published plays and the need for the play to have a unified sense, finding suitable plays is getting more difficult – especially if one wishes to avoid using the same plays as last year.

This is the problem that “Here comes Godot now!” by Lindsay Jones solves. It contains 12 plays each containing multi-roling and the variety of theatrical techniques that exam boards now seem to love.

The plays particularly engage with themes not often found in other sources, such as dark comedy, fantasy, horror, humour and urban myths. Thus the themes in this volume avoid the social topics such as drug taking which other volumes (and indeed assemblies and PSHE lessons) will already have covered extensively.

As for performances, the plays are written for a variety of combinations of participants from two boys or two girls up to four boys and four girls. Because the volume is photocopiable (or printable from a CD rom) only one copy of the book need be bought, and it can be used among the class without further cost.

ISBN: 978 1 86083 856 9 Order code: T1820emn – please quote with order.

Sample pages incorporating one complete play can be viewed at

  • Photocopiable book, £29.95 plus £3.95 delivery
  • CD with school-wide rights: £24.95 plus £3.95 delivery
  • Both the book and the CD £36.94 plus £3.95 delivery
  • Prices include VAT.

You can purchase the report…

Organising Successful Trips and Visits: a practical guide

It is a fact that something like 90% of schools still run school trips each year, and tens of thousands of us put ourselves through the hard work of organising and developing the trips, because of the good that we know it does for the pupils and students we teach.

Organising Successful Trips and Visits: a practical guide for secondary school teachers aims to help by covering all the main points, from “loco parentis” to turning the idea into a trip, from transport issues to the letter to the parents, from staffing issues to kit lists.

In just over 50 pages it gives you all the basics – not least so that if a colleague in the school is looking to organise a trip for the first time, he/she will be able to read up on all the key issues presented in a straightforward way.

There are sample pages at

Organising Successful Trips and Visits: a practical guide for secondary school teachers” is published as a download so that you can receive immediately a copy onto your computer which you can print out for colleagues as often as you want. You can also put it on your school learning platform so all staff can access the document – and indeed you can make it part of the induction documentation for new members of staff.

You can obtain Organising Successful Trips and Visits: a practical guide for secondary school teachers” by going to

The price is £10 plus VAT (the VAT can be reclaimed in most cases by the school).

Organising Successful Trips and Visits: a practical guide for secondary school teachers” is published by First and Best in Education, part of the Hamilton House group. If you have any enquiries you can call 01536 399 011, or email or write to us at First and Best, Hamilton House, Earlstrees Ct., Earlstrees Rd., Corby, Northants NN17 4HH.

The full range of First and Best books can be seen at

First and Best in Education
Earlstrees Road
NN17 4HH


Biology at a Glance 4th edition

The At a Glance books provide students with everything they need to prepare for and excel in their GCSE science exams. Presented in an innovative visual style, the books are of benefit to all candidates, and are especially useful for those who find the going a little tougher than most. The books are also useful to teachers as handy references and planners.

The fourth edition of a bestseller, Biology at a Glance 4th edition presents, in a clear, concise, and visual way, the main biological content required by all the examining boards for both the GCSE Double Award Science and separate Biology Award, including IGCSE. It is also useful as an introductory guide for AS Biology. The fourth edition has been revised to include new material on industrial fermenters and their applications, plus additional material on flowering plants.

“…an excellent book. It is well worth getting hold of a copy to see for yourself.”
School Science Review(about the third edition) 
Order your inspection copy online now

Cover Teacher who thinks transubstantiation is an underground rail system?

Make your substitute more effective as an RE Teacher with ‘Religion’ from our Absent Teacher Worksheet Series.

10% Discount if you order quoting this code: ARKHAM1982

The Absent Teacher Worksheet Series (ATWS)

  • Deliverable by non specialists
  • All lessons prepared by experienced subject specialists
  • All texts and instructions written in simple, jargon-free English
  • Photocopiable lessons on one side of A4
  • Stand-alone, self-contained lessons
  • The work takes students a whole class period to complete
  • A range of differentiated tasks, with extension work and homework, in each lesson
  • 30 original worksheets

ATWS Religion contains worksheets and wordsearches on: Faith or Fact; The Meaning of ‘Nothing’; Making the World Out of Nothing; Creation of the World; Creation of Humans; Religion Worldwide; Judaism; Buddhism; Christianity; Hinduism; Islam; Jehovah’s Witnesses; Mormons; Common Features of Religions; Conflict; Fast Days and Fasting; Feast Days, Holy Days and Holy Places; Miracles; War and Peace.

Please see our website for more details and samples. Or order by email: or

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Meeting Ofsted’s teacher observation requirements

Free lesson recording in order to present evidence of teacher observations to Ofsted


According to the Department for Education, the key factor in improving the quality of teaching is teacher observation, both through observation of one’s own teaching and also the observation of one’s colleagues. 

As the DfE put it, “Teachers learn best from other professionals.” 

Or, put another way, no matter what the school is like at the moment it can always be made better through teacher observation. 

Of course, this approach is favoured by inspectors because it makes their life easy by giving them something to measure. They can look and see if teacher observation is going on, and if it is they tick the box. If it is going on a lot, then they can tick a lot of boxes, and everyone is happy. 

The idea behind such systems is simple. Once the lesson has been recorded it can then be reviewed and discussed with the teacher involved, so that really effective lessons can be shared with colleagues. In this way the question, “why did this lesson work so well?” can be asked and teased out from the evidence. 

The Classwatch system produces a video system whereby colleagues can observe a lesson remotely and which gives all teachers an opportunity for self-evaluation. The lesson can then be reviewed and discussed with the teacher so that great lessons can be shared with other teachers. 

The system is self-contained and is operated locally by the teacher. Systems comprise two cameras (allowing excellent room coverage), a Classbox recorder and high definition audio. All images and audio are recorded to the Classbox and access is strictly password protected. 

So, what is this about the free lesson recording, mentioned in the headline? 

We are currently offering the next 50 schools who contact us a free lesson recording so you can see how Classwatch can work for your school. 

To book a free demonstration or to find out more click here or email us at Alternatively, for more information call us on 0800 043 9510.

Prepare students for exams using authentic exam questions

Exampro provides online access to over 20,000 exam questions and their associated mark schemes and examiner comments.

Simply by dragging and dropping, you can turn authentic questions into topic tests or revision exercises, allowing you to assess students’ progress in minutes.

Exampro is available at A-level for the following subjects:

  • Science
  • Maths
  • French, German and Spanish
  • ICT and Computing
  • PE
  • Psychology

Find out more or try a free demo

Kind regards,


What is the simplest way of making the overseas trip more about the country being visited than the journey?

Consider the school trip to an overseas destination. 

Hours on the coach 

Hours on the ferry 

Hours on the coach 

A few days away and then…


Hours on the coach 

Hours on the ferry 

Hours on the coach 

Which is why some students tend to remember more about the travel than they do about the purpose of the trip. 

Thus anything that cuts down travel time and, indeed, anything that adds to travel comfort is a really good idea.  

It puts the emphasis fairly and squarely back on the purpose of the visit by reducing the hassle of the journey and increasing the time spent in the desired destination. 

The solution, of course, is to fly – a solution which in the past few years has become ever cheaper as airlines seek to utilise their fleets more comprehensively outside of the peak demand period of the school holidays. 

This is the area in which we specialise – finding flights that will offer you great convenience at a low cost. 

What’s more, at the German Travel Centre one person will process everything from the initial enquiry through to the production of tickets, making this a singularly smooth and stress free transaction. 

Indeed, given that it is normally possible to fly from an airport near to the school to an airport close to the final destination, such arrangements can add up to three more days spent in the desired destination. 

In short, our reservation technology enables us to give you the most up-to-date travel options, all the time. We book and issue our own tickets, enabling us to keep full control of your booking and ensure your journey meets your needs.  

Furthermore, as we are ABTA and ATOL holders you can be assured that you and your students are fully protected (as recommended by the Health and Safety Executive for schools) should the airline fail. 

Because we have so many locations to and from which we can fly, the best way to explore the possibilities is either to call one of our specialist group reservation advisors on 020 8429 2900 or email us at with the details of your requirements. 

You can also go to our website for more information. 

Either way we’ll come back to you with our suggestions and prices.  You’ll be surprised how much time can be saved and how low group air fares can be.  

To keep up to date with the latest news and offers for your group bookings: 

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What would make your pupils go “WOW” about Science and Maths?

Throughout the centuries magicians have captivated audiences with mysterious and impossible acts that defy the laws of nature. Scientists and mathematicians also know that the world is full of wonder; spending their lives trying to explore and explain it.

Science Magic Shows aims to inspire audiences with entertaining and educational science & maths shows. The curriculum linked shows bring both gasps of amazement and memorable science teaching. The presenter Dr Matt Pritchard is an Associate of the Inner Magic Circle and world class science communicator who loves to inspire children in their studies and create a sense of wonder.

He enthused, motivated and inspired every child in the school.” – Cambridgeshire School

Bookings are now being taken for the 2013/14 academic year. Grab a slot now before the diary gets filled up.

Highlights for KS3/4 are:

  • “Could it be magic?” show containing lots of sneaky science that has to be figured out to understand the illusions.
  • “Superhero Science” show which is an advanced version of the science behind creating superpowers for real.
  • “From Facebook Friends to Postman Pat” an illustrated talk on the power and maths behind networks.

Visit the website or email now if you’d like to find out more information or book a show for 2013/14.

What do you do if a colleague is starting to suffer from stress?

The signs may be obvious: anxiety, depression, a decline in work standards, emotional behaviour, time off work. But the solution?

What you and your senior colleagues will want is to help your colleague recover, both for the well-being of your colleague and of course for the well-being of the school.

But it is sometimes quite hard to see what can be done to help the individual.

In fact there are two things that you can do – one is to look at the cause of the stress that is being felt by the individual teacher and so see if anything can be changed (not only for this teacher, but for others who may also be starting to feel stressed within their job).

The other is to offer help and support to the teacher in terms of suggesting a programme of activity that can be used to help overcome the stress.

Of course, the fact that teaching is the profession which now suffers from the third highest level of stress of any occupation in the UK does not make recovery from stress easy. But if a stress reduction programme is incorporated into the school’s work and is available for any member of staff who is feeling overwhelmed by the pressure of teaching, then it is very possible that some staff who might succumb to serious levels of stress can be helped. The resultant benefits for the teacher and the school are enormous.

By introducing the teacher suffering from stress to various techniques it is quite possible that the teacher will be able to avoid the stress turning into a serious long-term illness allowing the teacher to make rapid progress on the road to recovery.

Such an approach simply recognises that the only way out of stress is for the individual to undertake the journey of recovery him/herself. That does not mean that the stress causing factors in the school or elsewhere are ignored, but it is nevertheless essential that the individual teacher is taking the steps to start to deal with stress.

The volume thus helps school managers who don’t suffer from excessive stress to understand what their colleague under stress is going through and to see how she or he can be helped.

It deals not only with ways of reducing the levels of stress that teachers suffer from, but also offers a programme of practical help that can be offered to the teacher who is suffering from stress. The volume also includes a set of templates relating to the school’s policy on stress and a risk assessment programme.

The volume can be bought as a photocopiable ring bound book or on CD Rom.

You can see some sample pages at

Publisher’s reference: T1786EMN ISBN: 978 1 86083 840 8


  • Photocopiable report in a ring binder, £49.95 plus £3.95 delivery
  • CD with school-wide rights: £49.95 plus £3.95 delivery
  • Both the Ring Binder and the CD £56.94 plus £3.95 delivery

Prices include VAT.

You can purchase the report… please quote the order ref: T1786EMN

Can you teach someone to be a great actor?

The question ‘Can you teach someone to be a great actor?’ is in the same family of questions as: can you teach someone to be a great novelist, or can you teach someone to be a great artist or a photographer? The response depends on the person answering the question. Personally, I think this can be achieved with the right skills-based training and encouragement (and a bit of help from Luck himself). But, the first step on this journey starts at school!

If you are teaching Acting Skills as part of the new Edexcel BTEC in Performing Arts, then these three exercises will help support you in honing your students’ skills during Unit 1: Individual Showcase.

  1. Audition adverts: Either in pairs or individually, ask students to highlight the key phrases from an audition advert and identify the important qualities and skills the company is looking for in an applicant. Then encourage students to identify their own skills, knowledge and experience related to the person specification from the advert.
  2. Pace: Ask students to stand in one corner of the room. Get them to travel one at a time in a diagonal line across the space, reading an extract from a script as quickly as they can while moving as slowly as possible. When every student has crossed the room, get them to cross back the other way, this time reading their speech as slowly as they can while moving as quickly as possible. This is a difficult exercise to master but the aim is to highlight how performance doesn’t work all at one pace, it will change, just as the thought processes change, and the key is to find the pace shape that suits your extract.
  3. The Good Audition: In small groups, students should devise a five-minute performance called ‘The Good Audition’. The scenario could be an audition for a talent show, or could be for a production or performance training institution – it is up to the students. The important thing is that the performance must demonstrate their understanding of ‘good audition practice’. Students should take on different roles within the performance, such as the audition panel / judges, the person/people auditioning, etc.

All of the above, and so much more, have been taken from the new resource Acting Skills Pathway: Unit 1 Teaching Companion. This pack gives you all you need to deliver this unit in one place. It includes lesson plans for cover 15 Guided Learning Hours with engaging activities, worksheets ready-made to hand out, including application letter templates, audition piece selection worksheet, rehearsal logs and many more! It also includes case studies and examples to support lessons and to inspire students’ learning. Plus, it includes two practice assignments and supportive PowerPoint presentations.

Independent reviewers say:
“I would certainly use this resource – it gives my lesson by lesson break down of what to do and also it provided all the resources to run the lesson. A very thorough approach to this unit which covers every angle and provides not only good planning, activities but also good examples of completed work.” B Chapman, Head of Performing Arts

“Very thorough and well-resourced. Particularly good for anyone new to teaching or to this course. I particularly liked the resources on skills with accompanying exercises. I have long felt this was an unclear area of the BTEC requirements and this material would help me.” S Burford, Head of Drama

Available as a photocopy master with site licence (£79): also available as a printable PDF file (£79+30%+vat) and an editable Word file (£79+50%+vat). To preview the resource and order, please go to:

Please reference WA40 when placing your order to receive free postage & packaging.

ZigZag Education, Unit 3, Greenway Business Centre, Doncaster Road, Bristol BS10 5PY | Tel: 0117 950 3199 | Fax: 0117 959 1695

What are children thinking about at this time of year?

If a lesson connects directly with what is on the children’s minds, then the speed and depth of learning is greatly enhanced. 

It has always been known that the more that classroom activities are connected to positive aspects of everyday life, the easier it is to motivate children. 

But the great problem of course is that a lot of the everyday lives of the children does not connect with what we want to teach. 

However there is this annual event (known as Christmas), which one doesn’t even have to mention to raise interest and excitement. It is there all day, every day, on every street, in every shop, on every internet site, on every TV channel. 

And that is why we have devised our Christmas Maths Activities Key Stage 1 and Key Stage 2 resources. 

Christmas Activities for Maths contains festive mathematical activities which are linked to the National Numeracy Strategy targets – which makes integrating them into your planning easy.

In short, we combine the event on everyone’s minds with the curriculum. 

Even better, these books are available from our website as e-books. So they can be downloaded now for immediate use. 

The Key Stage 1 resource will have reception children practising counting from left to right and adding one on to help Santa load his sleigh. Year 1 children can sort toys into pairs and estimate the number of stars. Year 2 children will have the opportunity to learn about money when buying presents and can practise counting back in 10s with starry numbers. 

The Key Stage 2 resource will help reinforce children’s knowledge of number bonds, increase their understanding of fractions and percentages, and give them practise calculating the areas of 2-D shapes. 

A range of free sample teaching resources are available on our website. 

You can order the Christmas Activities for KS1 & KS2 Maths in any of these ways: 

Brilliant Publications,
Mendlesham Industrial Estate,
Norwich Road,
IP14 5ND. 


phone: 01449 766629
fax: 01449 767122

3 films you should teach for WJEC MS4

Sick of the simplistic distinction between the ‘Hollywood blockbuster’ and the ‘British cottage industry’ film? Here’s a set of case study texts that will not only cover all the bases for WJEC’s MS4 industries unit, but will also stretch your students and give them a real picture of the film industry today.

The rationale for this selection was to represent a cross-section of the British film industry and to reflect how the industry is an unstable and complex body – it is too simple to say there are Hollywood studio films and British ‘cottage industry’ films.

While explaining the basic expectations of the different types of films and industries is important, we must consider the true reality of the contemporary industry. It is one where the foreign market is the strongest it has ever been, and where Hollywood influences domestic markets as much as it is influenced by them.

Skyfall – lower-ability students will be able to identify the high concept values in Skyfall; however, the richness of this text allows more confident students to talk about the complexity of the film industry, the blurring of boundaries when we think of a film’s nationality, and the compromises made for a mainstream British film to have international appeal.

Tyrannosaur – this film is perhaps more recognisable as a ‘British film’ than Skyfall, and thus serves as a clear comparison in the context of WJEC’s MS4 unit. Tyrannosaur opens up discussion about the cottage industry in the UK. What types of films do we produce in order to compete with Hollywood? How is Tyrannosaur quintessentially British? How does the film’s representation of Britain challenge those depicted in mainstream movies? The male and female relationship at the heart of this text will offer rich discussion when compared with Bond.

Les Misérablesa Working Title film, this case study allows students to once again think about UK–Hollywood relations. Les Mis is not representative of Working Title’s slate of romanticised British films, and therefore it encourages students to think about the choices Working Title make regarding which films to green-light. The film encourages students to consider issues of cross-media relations – the adaptation from theatre to screen – and globalisation – how is this traditional English musical about French history told by an international cast? In the 1990s, the future of the musical film looked uncertain; however, studying Les Misérables offers the opportunity to consider the genre cycle – how has the musical changed to suit new audiences and a new time?

A comprehensive scheme of work with detailed resources to guide your teaching of these three texts is available from ZigZag Education. ZigZag resources are available as ‘copy masters’ or in editable format and come with a site licence, allowing you to pay once and copy as often as you need, or put on your server for multiple use.

The Resource Packs for WJEC MS4 Film Industry 2nd edition is available as a photocopy master with site licence (UX20/5397, £59). Also available in:

  1. Easy-printing PDF files (add 30%+VAT), or
  2. PDF with editable Word files (add 50%+VAT).

Also available: Computer Games Industry for WJEC MS4.

Order now at

ZigZag Education, Unit 3, Greenway Business Centre, Doncaster Road, Bristol BS10 5PY
t: 0117 950 3199 | f: 0117 959 1695 |

Give your promotional code UX20 to get free postage!

Dyscalculia; what is it and what effect does it have?

Understanding what dyscalculia is can allow schools to help sufferers improve their maths and obtain reasonable results in their examinations

Educational specialists believe that dyscalculia, struggling with numbers, is a specific learning difficulty – an unexpected inability to handle one or more aspects of maths. It has for many years been overshadowed by dyslexia, and yet the inability to handle basic mathematical issues can be just as big a problem for those who suffer from it, as is dyslexia.

Although some children with dyslexia also have great difficulties learning maths, this is not always the case. Research suggests that around 25% of dyslexic children are actually above average in their ability at maths. This suggests that there are different factors at work in dyscalculia from those causing or exacerbating cases of dyslexia.

Understanding Dyscalculia: An Introduction for Schools examines the five main causes of dyscalculia and sets out the methods of working available which can help pupils overcome their dyscalculic problems. The book contains short sections which can be photocopied to give out to other members of staff in school, to worried parents, and to governors, so that everyone can share in the awareness of what dyscalculia is, and how it can be tackled.

Above all the book shows that once we understand and accept the causes of dyscalculia we can adopt appropriate methods of teaching to overcome the problem. Research suggests that most children who gain appropriate help in school can overcome their dyscalculic difficulties and achieve an acceptable grade in secondary school examinations, thus allowing entry into further and higher education.

There is a sample chapter available on-line at

Cat No: 978 1 86083 614 5; Publisher reference no: T1628emn

Price £15.00, approx A$27.00. The exact price will be determined by the exchange rate on the day on which the transaction is processed.

The book is available in digital format – we will send it as a pdf email attachment when payment has been received.

Payment may be made by any of the following means.

  • By credit card (please send your order with card details by fax to +44 1536 399 012)
  • By Pay Pal to
  • By Bank transfer – we’ll send you details of the account upon receipt of your email order – please email
First and Best
Hamilton House
Earlstrees Court
Earlstrees Road
UK, NN17 4H

Free removal of your old and broken computer equipment before Christmas

Imagine a company that goes into schools and removes unwanted IT equipment free of charge.

Now imagine a company that does more, such as data wiping and making sure the disposal is environmentally friendly.

And finally imagine a company that will pick up virtually everything unwanted in IT, from computers to telecoms, from monitors to cables. And who will do it before Christmas if that is what you want.

And to make it clear:

First of all, PRM really does offer a free service. There are no charges.

Second, we treat everything in the most environmentally friendly way possible, in keeping with school sustainable education programmes.

Third, all the data on the drives is wiped to the highest standards possible. In fact, on this issue we go further, for we clean out all the data from the drives, and then all the equipment is then recycled within the UK – all without any charge.

The only requirement we have is that you have at least 30 items for collection and that they are all gathered together in one easily accessible place for our driver to pick up.

We can take PC base units, CRT monitors, TFT monitors, servers, laptops, server racks, switches, telecom switches and printers. Indeed as long as you have 30 of these items we will take away other IT equipment at the same time, such as keyboards, cabling and telecoms.

At the end of the process we issue you with free certification evidence so you can see that the correct procedures were complied with.

For more information please call our freephone number: 0800 840 9195 or fill in the form by clicking here And if you want us to collect before Christmas give us a ring – our last collection date is 20th December.