How to brush up on your subject knowledge

Simi Rai

Tuesday, 18 September 2018

Your first few days back at school can seem a little disorientating. Your body clock is changing, you’re finding your way around your new classrooms and struggling to remember pupils’ names!

All of these become easier as the term proceeds, but the most important of them is polishing your subject knowledge. It is easy to forget key dates, and plots in novels over the long summer, so make it a priority to brush up on key content when you return. Here are some strategies to refresh your memories:

Reread the exam specifications

Remind yourself of the assessment objectives, mark schemes, and exam format. The better your understanding of the exam, the better your lesson planning and delivery will be. Share this with your pupils in the first few weeks, so that they know what awaits them in May.

Study pupil exemplars

Check the examination boards for past papers and pupil answers that have scored highly and photocopy these for pupils. Annotating an example in class is an effective way for pupils to learn what to strive for. If time allows for it, complete a past paper yourself. Never underestimate how challenging the exam can be in timed conditions.

glasses on table

Reread class textbooks and novels you will be teaching

Remind yourself of important content that must be taught and questions you’d like to ask pupils. Browse the internet for interesting newspaper articles, or critical essays you’d like to share with the class. These could work as great lesson starters and discussion points later.

Talk to your colleagues

Start up a seminar to discuss content that you are teaching and share your ideas. Bring up discussions you have with your pupils in lessons and ask the other teachers how their pupils responded. You could even start a weekly lunch club or blog to connect and share your knowledge.

Request an examiner visit

Who better to teach you the exam than the examiners themselves. Ask your head of department to arrange a CPD session on the new GCSE specifications 
and exams. Schedule a question and answer period to clarify any doubts.

This could also be the perfect opportunity to share pupil answers, as the examiner can moderate them with you. There is no better investment!

Subject knowledge is fundamental to teaching, so dedicate some time to this and regain your love for learning!


About our Community Expert


Simi Rai
Community Expert

Over 5 years of experience in educational settings throughout London, Madrid and Barcelona. Whilst studying English Literature and Language at King’s College London and the University of North Carolina, she fell in love with her subject - both the study of literature and craft of writing.

After graduating, she completed the Leadership Development Programme with Teach First, whose mission is to provide equality through education, and attained her PGCE in Secondary English at Canterbury Christ Church University. She was then appointed as Deputy Head of English at one of the highest performing schools in England in a London inner-city academy.

Following this, she completed her Leadership and Management MA at University College London (Institute of Education) and became the director of an English Language company based in Barcelona.

Simi is our English Literature and Language Expert.

Opogo is a community platform designed to help schools attract and retain the talent that’s right for them. Our social hub is packed with rich content from our community experts. And through our ever-evolving Smart Match technology, teachers can be booked for work simply and quickly.

Sign up for FREE