Barbara Bleiman

Education Consultant, The English and Media Centre


‘It’s Good to Talk’ – What Group Work Can Achieve in English & What Makes it Work

EMC is now a year and a half into a self-funded investigative research project on group work in English – exploring what it’s good for, what kinds of learning takes place and what makes a difference to its effectiveness, aiming to go beyond familiar ideas and general advice that are currently in circulation. We’ve been working with a small group of teachers in a range of schools, generating our own new evidence in the form of lesson observations, filming of group work in action, questionnaires and interviews with students and teachers, and pupil writing. We have begun to disseminate some of the first outcomes, at conferences, in our own CPD and in a series of blogs on the English and Media Centre website.
The project has identified ten emerging ‘themes’. These include: ‘what is group work good for?’, ‘what role should the teacher play in shaping the group work?’, ‘what tasks work best?’, ‘how challenging should the tasks and material be?’ and ‘what’s the role of report-backs and how can they be made most effective?’ This session will share our emerging thinking about some of these key themes. There will be a chance to view and discuss one or two videoclips showing aspects of group work, as well as an opportunity to look at a few examples of student writing based on work done in groups.


Barbara Bleiman was until recently Co-Director of EMC and continues to work there as an Education Consultant and Co-Editor of emagazine. She was previously Head of English in an inner-city sixth form college and has nearly 40 years of experience of teaching English, providing CPD for teachers, publishing and contributing to educational developments and debates, including acting as a consultant to QCA and several Awarding Bodies. She has authored, or co-authored, some of EMC’s most iconic publications, including The Poetry Pack and Klondyke Kate, as well as, more recently, Sight Unseen: Poetry and Studying The Handmaid’s Tale. She has also written and published two novels.