The Pressure Group inquiry could not have come at a better time in our scheme of work this year. With remote learning the modus operandi for the foreseeable future, a guided inquiry is the perfect format for teaching in the Summer Term. Jenny and I have been revisiting this regularly for the past year, constantly updating our reflections and ideas on how to improve on the inquiry for Form 6 this time last year. The main focus would be to reinvent the second stage of the inquiry, which last year took the form of a ‘create your own pressure group’ task, in which students needed to apply the theory and evidence they had gathered during the first stage of the inquiry (investigation and debate on the two sides of ‘success/failure’ of a UK rights-based pressure group). Though this produced some breathtaking student work last year, we were concerned with how much utility it added in terms of exam-knowledge.
After some thought, we decided that the exam board specification called for a greater focus on different types of pressure group, and how they have evolved, particularly as one of the 30 mark essay questions on last year’s paper directly probed this area of the spec. The students will already have delved into rights-based pressure groups and the question of their success, so in the second phase of the inquiry, we would hone in on the democratic nature of the following different types of pressure group:
1. Trade Unions
2. Think Tanks
Jenny came up with the superb idea of an investigative journalism task early on in our reflection process. This would allow the creativity that we were so pleased with last year to remain, but would channel it into a specific aspect of knowledge acquisition for the pressure group topic. As time will be of the essence this term, we are minded to keep this second stage of the inquiry tightly-structured, useful, and student-led. Jenny has worked hard to redraft the frameworks for the student Investigation, Construct, Express and Reflect stages to ensure that students, no matter how good their remote learning access is, have a clear plan for their learning. The students will also have room to breathe in terms of following their own inspiration. All of the aspects we liked last year, such as the creation of a ‘product’, peer noting of the key elements of student work, and a meaningful reflection phase, are revamped into this new Orwell Prize task.
One more note on the remote learning aspect, which we are going to stress-test this year, is how well the debate (stage 1 of the inquiry) will work online, rather than face-to-face. Though stage 2 (sharing investigative journalism articles) should be simple enough online, the debate will be a good test of how classroom activities translate in the ether. My opinion pre-inquiry is that, with the well-structured and slightly-adjusted note-taking frameworks (more on that later, I’m sure) that Jenny has adapted, students will have the requisite structure to participate in the debate both as a debater and an audience-member.
The pressure group inquiry is due to begin during the first week of May.