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Louth Academy English Department believes in the power of the English curriculum: its powers to liberate, connect, ennoble, inspire and engage. We know that people in life who understand the way that language works; who can articulate their understanding and who can move others with the effects of their own writing, are the people who will change the world; live enriched lives and flourish on whatever path they choose to take beyond the school gate.

By engendering an appreciation of the written word through a study of fictional and non-fictional texts we aim to show students that they can craft their own writing to affect the people who read their work. The maxim 'read like a writer; write like a reader' is at the heart of the way students are taught. By studying good examples of writing, students are encouraged to make conscious decisions about the words they choose, the grammatical structures they employ, the tone, form and register of their own work.

The department believes everyone is able to appreciate the beauty and intensity of the canon of English Literature. We aim to provide all students with a stimulating curriculum and working environment which allows each of them to voice opinions which they know are valued; explore issues and themes of a challenging nature and ultimately achieve the very best examination results of which they are capable: for this is how the world will often judge their achievements.

Students are encouraged to take responsibility for their own progress through the support and guidance of their teachers.

Please explore these pages to find out more about what we offer.

Ethos & Values

Our aims are:

  • To deliver an English curriculum of the highest standard. A curriculum designed to lead students through many different genres, both as readers and as writers. A curriculum which builds on skills year by year, encouraging thought and creativity and developing skills of analysis and criticism.
  • To put English skills at the heart of the school’s curriculum. To encourage students to maximise their full potential in the three areas of language development: reading, writing, and speaking and listening and understand how these are relevant to all aspects of the curriculum and life beyond the school.
  • To ensure that learners build confidence, feel valued, motivated and informed about their own progress and are proactively involved in reviewing and evaluating their individual achievements.
  • To have consistently high expectations and match these with high quality resources and learning strategies.
  • To provide a range of learning experiences appropriate to the age, ability and needs of the students. Students are encouraged to actively participate in lessons, developing the ability to communicate effectively, accurately and with confidence, both orally and in writing, in a variety of styles and situations.
  • To support the English Curriculum and every student's progress through the development of independent learning at home.

Knowledge & Skills

  • All students are encouraged to develop their speaking, reading and writing skills, through their study of interesting and challenging texts, both fictional and non-fictional.

  • Students are encouraged and helped to broaden their vocabulary and understanding of the way language works.

  • Students are taught about explicit and implicit meanings and are taught the skills necessary for identifying and evaluating texts.

  • Students are taught to craft their writing for maximum effect.

  • All students learn how to structure their ideas for maximum effect.

  • Students develop their ability to read for different purposes - for information, research and personal enrichment.

  • Students develop their written communication and are taught to vary their style when writing for a variety of different audiences, in a variety of forms for a range of reasons. The need for accuracy in spelling, punctuation, grammar and paragraphing is emphasised and the opportunity for honing these skills is supported by the department's schemes of work and personalised feedback.

Resources & Facilities

  • All students are encouraged to develop their speaking, reading and writing skills, through their study of interesting and challenging texts, both fictional and non-fictional.
  • Students are encouraged and helped to broaden their vocabulary and understanding of the way language works.
  • Students are taught about explicit and implicit meanings and are taught the skills necessary for identifying and evaluating texts.
  • Students are taught to craft their writing for maximum effect.
  • All students learn how to structure their ideas for maximum effect.
  • Students develop their ability to read for different purposes - for information, research and personal enrichment.
  • Students develop their written communication and are taught to vary their style when writing for a variety of different audiences, in a variety of forms for a range of reasons. The need for accuracy in spelling, punctuation, grammar and paragraphing is emphasised and the opportunity for honing these skills is supported by the department's schemes of work and personalised feedback.

Courses & Qualifications

Key Stage 3

We believe Year Seven should be exciting and challenging, and show children how the skills and knowledge they have learned at Primary school have prepared them for more sophisticated texts and ideas.

We also recognise that many students will not have grasped all of the word and sentence level work they will have been taught in KS2 and even KS1, and it is therefore essential we revise skills and build upon knowledge and at no point blame students for not understanding or recognising a so-called 'basic' concept. We are enablers and it is our belief that each student is approached in an individual manner and that the fundamentals of literacy, far from being 'basic skills' can actually be quite complicated, tiresome and illogical. Students need to know that practising skills and revisiting concepts is positive and helpful.

Year 7

Over the course of Year Seven, students will read a range of exciting and challenging texts and extracts of texts as they explore different areas of English language and Literature study.

In Year Seven Language lessons students begin with an exploration of autobiographical techniques in the 'Life Writing' module. They also examine the way they are manipulated by advertising and the media before moving on to study the legends and myths which have helped to shape the canon of English Literature. A module about Quest stories helps to develop creative writing as well as helping to make sense of their own life stories. The summer term asks them to look at the emotional aspect of letter writing as well as the functional skills required to set one out properly as we explore 'Letters of Note' before ending the year with a study of the language of newspapers and broadcasting, in the module, 'Breaking News'.

Literature lessons allow students to enjoy a class novel – an adventure story, a range of classic poetry, a range of myths and a dramatic version of Mary Shelley's 'Frankenstein' as a gentle introduction to the Gothic genre and science fiction.

Year 8

In Language lessons students begin the year with the module 'Out and About' examining descriptive techniques in classic modern literature and non-fiction texts. We move on to examine the science fiction genre and how it has been used to explore possibilities and imagine developments. We move on to a media module, and learn how to write articles and express opinion in an engaging, persuasive way. The next module focuses on the story of a refugee and her biographical writing. In the summer term we switch our attentions to Victorian literature written for children and touch on the Romantic period as we examine philosophical and historical ideas which have affected literature. This starts the process of students thinking about the social and historical context of texts and how that can affect our understanding of them.

In Literature lessons students read two whole class novels: one focuses on how relationships between characters unfold and one is a 'Who Dunnit?' to introduce children to the genre. They will also study key scenes from some of Shakespeare's plays and examine a number of pre-twentieth century poems written by people who were often marginalised by society: women, enslaved people and the poor.

Key Stage 4

Our priority at Louth Academy is to deliver an exciting and enriching KS4 which uses the GCSE courses to underpin an inspiring, life-enhancing, serious study of literature and language. We teach students to express themselves fully, powerfully and individually using the spoken and written word. We believe that English Literature is a necessary part of a meaningful existence, separate from GCSE examinations. We know it is vital that we encourage wider reading, beyond the remit of the GCSE specification.

Year 9

Year Nine is a transition year, preparing students for starting their GCSE course material, by exploring texts and writing genres which will feed into their understanding of the texts they will encounter next year. Our aim is that all of our students achieve the very best GCSE grades they are capable of achieving at the end of KS4. We know that the way to do this is by developing a genuine interest in, and engagement with the language of non-fiction texts and works of Literature, and not to focus on the individual style of questions that the GCSE examinations will ask at the end of Year Eleven.

In their Language lessons Year Nine will study the short story genre in the first module, 'The Art of Story-telling' as well as how autobiography can be used as the basis of creative writing in the module, 'Shaping Moments'. The modules, 'What it is to be Human' and 'Points of View' allow for the study of themes such as Justice, Truth and Equality as well as writing to argue, persuade and give opinions. Skills and ideas which will be invaluable in life, and in their GCSE examinations. In the summer term, 'The Art of Articles' returns to opinion-based reportage and the way professional journalists shape their work to engage and persuade their readers. We end the year with the study of non-fiction texts from the nineteenth, twentieth and twenty-first century which recount and describe individual experiences in 'First Person Witness'.

In Literature lessons Year Nine begin the year by examining a range of poetry, building on their knowledge of how poetry works and why it is written and learning to annotate and analyse in more detail. This develops into comparative study of poetry. We move on to read and study a classic novel such as 'Of Mice and Men'. The year ends with the study of a classic drama text such as 'Journey's End', 'Educating Rita' or 'An Inspector Calls'. As well as broadening students' knowledge and experience, these texts develop the skills and thinking necessary for the study of their GCSE texts next year.

Year 10 & 11

All students undertake the study of two separate GCSE courses for English. They continue to be taught by two specialist staff: one for English Language and one for English Literature.

The focus of lessons is preparation for the examinations at the end of the course, but ideas and skills are delivered in an engaging way as we examine Perspective and Viewpoint through modules such as 'Changing Perspectives', 'Transactional Writing', 'Literary Fiction', 'Eye-witness Accounts' and 'Travel Writing'.

In Literature lessons students will study Shakespeare's 'Macbeth' and Charles Dickens' 'A Christmas Carol' in Year Ten and in Year Eleven examine the themes of 'An Inspector Calls' as well as studying the Power and Conflict poetry anthology, making thematic links and learning to make comparisons.


AQA English Language: this GCSE consists of two examinations, each being 1 hour and 45 minutes long. Across the two equally weighted papers, students will answer reading assessment questions on texts from the 19th, 20th and 21 centuries, followed by answering one writing task on each paper.

AQA English Literature: Paper 1 assesses understanding of a Shakespeare text and a text from the 19th century, chosen from a list prescribed by AQA. At 1 hour and 45 minutes long, it is worth 40% of the final grade. Paper 2 is 2 hours and 15 minutes and consists of four questions based on a modern text, an anthology of poetry and an unseen poem.

Learning Outside The Classroom

Touring theatre companies are used to enhance students' dramatic experiences and ensure that all students are able to see at least one live performance of a play during their time at the school.

Where Does This Take Me In The Future?

As English underpins all other subjects in the curriculum, it plays a major role in preparing students for further study, working life and being a content human being who is able to contribute to society.

Focussing on the skills of analysis and evaluation, as well as developing the ability to empathise with others and imagine viewpoints and perspectives different to our own, means that English study and qualifications prepare individuals for participation and success in every area of work; for life-long learning and for having a sense of one’s own unfolding story.

An English Language qualification at a pass grade or above is a pre-requisite for entry on to many courses at college or university. However, it is important we value all grades achieved as they all show a level of ability.

An English Literature qualification is an excellent way of showing the analytical and evaluative skills many employers and colleges are looking for.

Literacy – How Parents Can Help

Literacy is a word which covers all aspects of reading, writing and speaking and suggests a level of fluency and success when communicating with others and understanding other people's ideas.

The most effective way of improving and encouraging your son or daughter's love of reading or writing is to show an interest in it yourself. The messages we give our children about the importance of reading and writing start when they are very small and continue through adolescence.

If you want your child to read: read to them; read your own book at the same time as them; ask them to give you some space because you have to finish your book! Be conspicuous with your own reading. If you do not have the chance to read very often, you can still make sure your child knows you value the skill.

If we provide the soundtrack to our children's childhood we need to make that soundtrack positive when it articulates feelings for reading, 'I couldn't put it down' or 'it took a bit of perseverance but it was worth it' instead of, 'I never liked reading' or 'I prefer to watch the film'.

Even if the soundtrack has to be digitally re-mastered from your own childhood or your genuine feelings… positive affirmations about reading are important. If you want your child to read, make books available. Read teenage fiction: it's often excellent. Borrow their books; lend them yours.

If you really want to help your child develop their literacy skills, then don't put a TV or a screen in a bedroom. This isn't always an easy decision to make. However, asking your child to choose between the instant, mind-numbing activity of staring at a screen or finding a good book (not always easy) and reading for 20 minutes before bed, is not really a fair choice to give.

Reading must never be seen as a punishment but it is worth acknowledging to your son/daughter that it is a skill and it does take some perseverance. It might take a while to find the book that cannot be put down but it will be out there – and a sense of determination on the part of the child is necessary.

A healthy reading habit requires effort on the part of a child: they may have to read the openings of four or five books before they find one they want to keep. Sometimes reading requires effort even if the book is good or 'quite good'. What a wonderful literacy skill for a child to have – the ability to do something which requires concentration and thought and is actually quite challenging – and hasn't involved an adult.

Think about how much time children spending doing things which are easy – watching TV, playing computer games, using the internet: reading encourages self-discipline. Self-discipline is an important study / life / literacy skill and it will take some practice.

If at all possible, make sure your son / daughter has a desk and a good light in their bedroom or in a space which can be noise / distraction free. Of course there is the problem of the internet and the mobile phone. It may be difficult to monitor screen use if the study space is also where the computer is positioned. Perhaps this is worth thinking about. Perhaps children need to have 'screen – free' time imposed upon them.

GCSE Examinations will not involve computers. Children are still expected to perform as their parents did many years ago: in an examination hall; holding a pen; thinking for themselves. Perhaps there is something to be said for encouraging some homework to be done in a similar environment: quiet, solitary and free from distractions. That is not to say there isn't also a place for the kitchen table and a sociable sharing of ideas sometimes.

Reading – How Parents Can Help

The non-reading child will always be at a disadvantage. Our main aim as a department is to promote, encourage and nurture our students' reading habits. We know we can only do this with the help and support of families.

Of course reading skills will be practised and developed at school but the more experience a child has of reading, the more readily they will be able to adapt to the different requirements school subjects expect of them.

'…While good readers gain new skills very rapidly, and quickly move from learning to read to reading to learn, poor readers become increasingly frustrated with the act of reading, and try to avoid it where possible'

'The Matthew Effect' Daniel Rigney

Often it takes some self-discipline to put time aside to read. As adults we tell ourselves we don't have time and that children are busy too. We need to make time for their reading. If children genuinely have too much homework to fit in any reading – then they have too much homework. Write a note in their planner and explain the decision you made as parent – no one is going to argue with you.

Children cannot read properly with noisy distractions going on – so there has to be somewhere quiet. Some children don't like being somewhere quiet so it may be necessary to build up to 20 minutes.

A list of ways you can encourage your child to enjoy reading:

  • Read a good book to them.
  • Read a good book to them.
  • Read a good book to them.
  • Read good books that you can't put down and let them see this.
  • Find books for them to read to themselves that have a good story and aren't too hard.
  • Read these books yourself before you give them to your son/daughter so you can talk about together.
  • Try to make sure there is a good light next to your child's bed and make reading the focus for 30 minutes before they go to bed.
  • Don't let a TV, computers, screens and tablets invade your child's bedroom.
  • Don't force children to read a book you loved! Celebrate difference!
  • Let children start a book and not finish it. If you have read it first you may be in a position to say – 'it takes a while to warm up but it's worth it.'
  • Don't be cross if children skim read bits – not all of it – but bits, yes.
  • There's no law against it!
  • Join the local library.
  • Talk about reading. Get excited about reading with other adults and children.
  • Read teenage fiction – much of it is brilliant.
  • Never, ever say, 'I don't like fiction'. Or, 'I never liked reading'. Even if that is true – it isn't helpful.

Why reading fiction matters:

We make sense of our own lives by seeing them as stories and ourselves as the protagonists – we need to be able to see patterns; make sense and have hope.

It gradually teaches us how to empathise. Imagine a world where everyone could do that… Imagine an adult who struggles to do that…

Reading encourages us to develop our ability to make connections: between ideas, people, possibilities, other experiences… It encourages us to ask important questions.

It provides maps for our own writing and ideas.

It allows us to step back from a world which can be frightening and confusing into one in which we feel more secure.

It stimulates the imagination.

Where to find books…

Booktrust.org.uk: find reading lists of various genres for different age groups.

Lovereading4kids.co.uk: excellent recommendations, downloads and first chapters for free.

Amazon: search for a book your child has enjoyed reading and see what other people then bought.

The reading room at school: gives students an opportunity to browse and ask for advice and to borrow a book.

Charity shops always have a book section and often have great books to buy quite cheaply.

Encouraging children to read non-fiction texts

Biographies, autobiographies, travel writing, recipes, advertising material and quality journalism are all really useful types of writing to dip into. They help to broaden a child’s vocabulary and help them identify humour, irony and extended metaphors as well as increasing their knowledge of the world in general.

Allowing children to read recipes and cook by themselves (or as close to that as possible) is a really good way of encouraging them to read carefully!

Writing directions down and asking them to help you works well too.

Sitting with the paper during a weekend meal – perhaps breakfast or lunch, and everyone reading a piece of it – encourages a family culture of reading.

Writing – How Parents Can Help

Writing can be approached at word level, sentence level, paragraph level and whole text level.

Word level involves a child's range of vocabulary including subject specific words but even more importantly general words which can be used in all areas of life. 'Word level' also relates to spelling. Spelling is important and it does need to matter to students. However, it is not more important than sentence construction.

Spelling includes using capital letters when they should be used and not when they shouldn't; using apostrophes whenever they are needed and forming letters carefully so a reader doesn't have to guess which letter is being used (examiners will always assume the worst – that letters are being badly formed on purpose to hide an inaccurate spelling).

There are several ways of helping your child with their spelling. The 'Look, say, cover, write, check' method is one most children will have come across at school. Breaking a word down into syllables and learning the smaller chunks before putting them back together can be useful too e.g. 'in…de…pen…dent'. Sometimes it helps to pronounce the word as it is spelled rather than as it is usually heard e.g. 'bus…i….ness' becomes business. Mnemonics work well too – little rhymes or sayings which help children remember a spelling 'it's definite init?' or 'it is the gum that sticks the argument together'.

One word at a time has to be the most useful way of thinking about spelling. One word the child uses a lot at a time. And, the child has to see that learning that one word is worth credit – definitely, separately, receive, disappointment, disappear, surprise etc. It is also useful to focus on spellings your child uses a lot.

Nearly all children spell more words correctly than they misspell and yet so many students will tell us they are 'bad at spelling'. Swap swimming for spelling. Imagine your child is in the pool; the instructor is shouting encouraging words of 'you can do it' or 'you're getting better all the time'. I have yet to hear anyone shout, 'you just can't swim – you're a bad swimmer'. Of course some children will have a great deal of difficulty with spelling words and will need specialised help – and should focus on becoming experts at sentence level accuracy.

Widening your child's vocabulary is a matter of deliberately choosing to use words yourself and explicitly pointing them out. Praising a child for then using the word is a really positive way of reinforcing the idea of being excited about vocabulary. This shouldn't be related to school or examinations. For a word to become part of a child's vocabulary they have to use it. Learning a list of sophisticated words is fairly pointless and they will probably be forgotten. Encourage your child to be like a magpie picking up shiny words you and others leave lying around? A good example of this is the word 'eclectic' meaning varied - split it into syllables and explain its meaning, give an example of its use and hopefully next time your son or daughter is asked what sort of music they are into or what sort of books they like reading they won't respond with 'lots of different ones'.

Sentence level involves grammar and punctuation. It involves choices to create effects and craft meanings. All students can learn how to order words to create specific effects and can make their writing more sophisticated once they have mastered the basics of clauses and commas!

Lynne Truss's book 'Eats, Shoots and Leaves' is a really engaging exploration of punctuation for adults and older teenagers, but even younger children can see the point being made here:

A panda walks into a café. He orders a sandwich, eats it, then draws a gun and fires two shots into the air.

"Why?" asks the confused waiter, as the panda makes towards the exit. The panda produces a badly punctuated wildlife manual and tosses it over his shoulder.

"I'm a panda," he says at the door. "Look it up."

The waiter turns to the relevant entry and, sure enough, finds an explanation.

"Panda. Large, black and white bear-like mammal, native to China. Eats, shoots and leaves".

You might prefer:

A woman, without her man, is nothing.

A woman: without her, man is nothing.

Children today learn far more about sentence construction at school than most of their parents did. Sometimes this can make it difficult for parents to reinforce a child's learning at home.

There are rules about punctuation but once the rules have been mastered a child can use punctuation to give their writing personality and nuance.

Varying sentence length is important for writing to have impact. It shows a writer is aware of the rhythm of their writing.

Here's a clever way of getting your child to think about their sentences in a different way: Write down a mobile phone number. If there is a zero in it, replace the zero with a nine and if there is a one join it to its nearest neighbour. Now you have a challenge as this tells you how many words you can have in each sentence. So 07947 159658 becomes 9,7,9,4, 7,15,9,6,5,8

This forces the writer to be experimental with the construction of sentences.

Varying sentence openings is vital if writing is to have impact. It is also worth being aware of the 'fog index' which is an area of linguistics which measures readability of sentences. A mathematical formula suggests that thirteen words is the optimum sentence length for clear communication and twenty is the maximum acceptable length. This isn't the law! However, it is a good reminder to think about sentence length – and to write in sentences!

Paragraph level involves structuring a piece of text into paragraphs. It doesn't really matter at all how you show you have started a new paragraph. The important thing is that it is clear you have started a new one. The rule used to be that when handwriting, you showed a new paragraph by indenting a few centimetres in from the margin, and when word-processing you didn't indent, instead you missed a line. Increasingly it has become acceptable to avoid indentation and simply miss a line even when handwriting.

Winston Churchill described the importance of the paragraph like this: 'just as a sentence contains one idea in all its fullness, so the paragraph should embrace a distinct episode'. A new paragraph signals a shift in focus: a new point being made; a shift in time, a new setting. Without paragraph breaks the reader is over-faced and put off and the writer gives the impression they don't care how the reader feels. Neither of these facts make for effective writing or good examination grades.

Structuring a paragraph is a skill worth mastering. Topic sentences work in Y6 and Y11: a sentence to start the paragraph which is a clear and bold assertion. This should be followed by a series of sentences which set about proving the first, or elaborating upon it. They can be joined together using connectives (joining words and phrases) which signal to the reader that they are being led through the idea. 'Before, once, despite, although, whereas, consequently, since, yet…) The paragraph can then finish with a bold statement which either sums up the content of this paragraph or points forward to the next one. It's a good idea to start and finish a paragraph with a shorter, punchy sentence.

Whole text level is a term that speaks for itself. Children are asked to write a lot at school. They are asked to write in a variety of ways in different subject areas. However, there are common expectations across the school. Presentation matters. Using a ruler to underline a title is not a teacher being fussy it is a signal that the writing which will follow matters and is valued. Audience, Purpose and Form are key prompts all children need to think about before they start to write.

Audience: Who am I writing for and how does this affect my tone and my vocabulary?

Purpose: Is this a draft to gather my ideas, cross out and rethink or is it the final piece which is trying to record an event; persuade to my point of view; argue a case; give instructions; evaluate or discuss?

Form: What type or shape of writing is this and how does that affect my language and tone? Is it a letter; an essay; a piece of journalism; a review; an experiment? What are the conventions for that type of written form?

Students will also need to know and understand the concept of P.E.E. or P.E.E.L. (There are other variations too: IQC – idea, quote, comment). What it means is that whenever they make an assertion, a Point, they then need to give some Evidence to support that point. Once they have done this they need to Explain how the evidence proves the point. The L refers to Linking that point back to the question or task. Evidence could be facts and figures or a quotation from a source text.

Finally, a note on handwriting. It is important that your child's handwriting is legible. It does not have to be joined up or fancy. At KS2 joining up letters was an essential skill, but at secondary level the choice is left to the child about whether letters are joined up or not.

Starting secondary school is an opportunity for children to find their own handwriting style. Some children will welcome the opportunity to print letters again or to join up some letters and not others. The important aspect of handwriting is that it communicates clearly and suggests that the writer wants their reader to enjoy the experience of reading what has been written.

Further Information

KS3 Websites to enhance English studies

GCSE English Language Revision Websites:

  • www.bbc.com/bitesize - This website has a variety of activities to support the study of the AQA English Language GCSE course. You can explore model responses, support with sentence starters, success criteria for each question and much more. Paper 1 & Paper 2.
  • www.youtube.com – 'Mr Bruff' Language tutorial videos range from Level 4 support if you are struggling with the basics and offers a range of high-ability videos if you are reaching for the stars and pushing yourself.
  • lifemoreextraordinary.com/revision/revise-english-language-gcse-aqa/ - An engaging video tutorial of Language support exploring the top tips and must have exam skills.
  • www.englishbiz.co.uk - An engaging website that offers a wide range of GCSE English Language skills and resources to practice at home.

GCSE English Literature Revision Websites:

  • www.bbc.com/bitesize/ - This website has a variety of activities to support the study of all the Literature texts students are studying at GCSE. Make sure you know your Marley from your Scrooge!
  • www.revisionword.com – This website has a variety of activities to support the study of all the Literature texts students are studying at GCSE. Make sure you know your Macbeth from your MacDuff!
  • www.studywise.co.uk – Various links to revision sites and tuition videos.
  • www.quizlet.com – Variety of flashcard activities focusing on Literature texts e.g. Characters, key quotations, themes etc.
  • www.youtube.com – 'Mr Bruff' Literature tutorial videos range from Level 4 support if you are struggling with the basics and offers a range of high-ability videos if you are reaching for the stars and pushing yourself.
  • www.sparknotes.com/nofear/shakespeare/macbeth/ - Spark Notes provides a modern day 'translation' of Macbeth which facilitates your understanding of the play as a whole, including support notes and annotations to further develop your critical analysis of the text. Have No Fear!

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Louth Academy

Philip C Dickinson
BA (Hons) MA PGCE.