Making Every English Lesson Count

Six principles to support great reading and writing

By: Andy Tharby


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Size: 216 x 135mm
Pages : 176
ISBN : 9781785831799
Format: Paperback
Published: June 2017

Making Every English Lesson Count: Six principles to support great reading and writing goes in search of answers to the fundamental question that all English teachers must ask: 'What can I do to help my students to become confident and competent readers and writers?'

Writing in the practical, engaging style of the award-winning Making Every Lesson Count, Andy Tharby returns with an offering of gimmick-free advice that combines the time-honoured wisdom of excellent English teachers with the most useful evidence from cognitive science. The book is underpinned by six pedagogical principles – challenge, explanation, modelling, practice, feedback and questioning – and provides simple, realistic classroom strategies to bring the teaching of conceptual knowledge, vocabulary and challenging literature to the foreground.

It also points a sceptical finger at the fashions and myths that have pervaded English teaching over the past decade or so – such as the idea that English is a skills-based subject and the belief that students can make huge progress in a single lesson. Instead, Andy advocates an approach of artful repetition and consolidation and shows you how to help your students develop their reading and writing proficiency over time.

Making Every English Lesson Count is for new and experienced English teachers alike. It does not pretend to be a magic bullet. It does not claim to have all the answers. Rather the aim of the book is to provide effective strategies designed to help you to bring the six principles to life, with each chapter concluding in a series of questions to inspire reflective thought and help you relate the content to your classroom practice.

In an age of educational quick fixes, GCSE reform and ever-moving goalposts, this precise and timely addition to the Making Every Lesson Count series provides practical solutions to perennial problems and inspires a rich, challenging and evidence-informed approach to English teaching.

Suitable for English teachers of students aged 11–16 years.

Picture for author Andy Tharby

Andy Tharby

Andy Tharby is a practising English teacher with over a decade's classroom experience at a secondary school in West Sussex. He is co-author of the award winning Making Every Lesson Count and the author of Making Every English Lesson Count. Andy is also interested in helping fellow teachers enhance their practice through engagement with research evidence.

Click here to read Andy Tharby’s blog.


  1. This volume which brings together six principles to support -˜great', presumably effective, reading and writing, is part of a series all of which highlight the same six principles - challenge, explanation, modelling, practice, questioning and feedback - in other areas of education: Primary teaching, Maths teaching and Science teaching.These principles, it is claimed, are the basis of effective teaching.Its audience is English teachers, both those new to the profession and experienced practitioners. It brings together modern research in the area of quality teaching and learning and marries this with very basic and time-honoured wisdom. There is, too, a useful and extensive Bibliography.

    Successive chapters explore and develop these principles. Each chapter closes with a number of self-assessment questions which the teacher should seek to answer. Throughout the book practical examples and typical classroom situations are adduced to illustrate how the principles can be implemented. Interspersed with the scholarship are thoughts and ideas which hopefully will be inspirational particularly to young teachers, -˜A child should be challenged just outside his comfort zone.' The importance of the teacher showing his/her love of subject - this can be so motivating. What might also have been advocated is the sharing of methods and materials among colleagues within a department: to observe at close quarters what works and what does not work is invaluable. A wide-ranging compendium of facts, ideas and practical guidance, this will be a useful resource in English bases/workrooms.
  2. For English teachers, getting the key and critical nuances of the English Language over to students can seem like an everyday battle. Yet, ensuring pupils are well equipped to deal with the complexities of the English language, along with accessing a varied range of literature is crucial, potentially enhancing lives, opening opportunities, and advancing knowledge.

    In his new book 'Making every English lesson count: Six principles for supporting great reading and writing', Andy Tharby introduces his pedagogical principles applying them to an English lesson, suited for secondary school colleagues, covering the reading and writing processes. What needs to be applauded in this book is that Andy urges English teachers not to take the easy route when teaching reading and writing, but to challenge students - taking them out of their comfort zones - improving their analytical and academic writing skills to produce constantly high standards of work.

    To achieve such high standards, teachers need to challenge, explain, model, question, and provide feedback that encourages and scaffolds their practice so that students are confident to become absorbed in texts required by various curriculum demands.

    What is clear in this book is Andy Tharby's passion and commitment in raising passion in teaching and learning English, offering guidance, advice and pedagogical tactics supporting the processes of reaching high standards.

    Click here to read the review on UKEdChat.
  3. One of the central challenges facing English teachers today is the huge chasm between research and practice. For many, the field of education research is an impenetrable forest that is simply not worth the effort of exploring at a time when workload is already at unmanageable levels. Making Every English Lesson Count is an indispensable guide for English teachers that combines important research from a range of fields with practical advice on how to implement it in the classroom. As a researcher, but more importantly as an English teacher, I cannot recommend this book highly enough. Simply put, this is the book I wish I had read in my first year of teaching.
  4. As with his blog, and previous collaboration with Shaun Allison in Making Every Lesson Count, Andy Tharby continues to demonstrate his knack of decluttering and demystifying teaching. This time he effectively, effortlessly and succinctly sets his eyes on the English lesson.

    Making Every English Lesson Count cuts right down to the quick of English teaching. Tharby painlessly gets straight to the important issues in the classroom and moves us away from the superficial aspects that distract from quality teaching. Using his friendly and approachable style of writing, he guides us through the principles of what a lesson should have and what a teacher can do to ensure that every lesson counts.

    Great teaching is about making the unfamiliar familiar and making the complex simple. This book does just that and it is a welcome addition - I really wish I had had it as an NQT.

    A perfect gift for an NQT or established teacher of English.
  5. Andy Tharby has written the best book on English teaching that I have read. Not only is it full of practical wisdom, arresting anecdote and a thorough understanding of the implications of cognitive science for English teachers, it's also couched in elegantly composed prose and is a joy to spend time with. It will bestride the educational world like a colossus.
  6. This is a fantastic follow-up to Making Every Lesson Count, a book that has proved a solid resource for professional learning at all levels of experience.

    Andy offers us a manifesto for great teaching of English, informed by research evidence, experience and pragmatism. His style is thought-provoking and insightful, and altogether a pleasure to read.

    Making Every English Lesson Count will no doubt be a staple of all English departments, offering a wealth of advice to support the planning of an ambitious curriculum for our students and allowing colleagues to deliberately practice specific strategies in the classroom, with a focus on explicit teaching based on strong subject knowledge.

    An advocate for reading and for expanding our students' vocabulary, Andy's enthusiasm is contagious. He has it right when he quotes Ludwig Wittgenstein: “The limits of my language mean the limits of my world.” What a fantastic challenge for all English teachers!

    I couldn't recommend this book more.
  7. Andy Tharby is clear from the outset that there are no silver bullets, and no strategies that will work for all English teachers in all classrooms. He stresses the importance of individuality and context, but also recognises that we can learn much from reading and research, from collaborative dialogue with other professionals and from careful reflection on all we learn as a consequence. How can we adapt what others have found to be successful in order to continue to build and strengthen our own practice?

    Making Every English Lesson Count is firmly grounded in the principles of challenge, explanation, modelling, practice, questioning and feedback, and considers these elements of effective practice from a subject-specific perspective: offering practical strategies, specific examples and questions to prompt reflection. Tharby encourages the reader to consider how these ideas could be usefully adapted for best effect in their own teaching practice. The book explores, for example, the central place of the text in English teaching; the importance of background knowledge, both in terms of textual content and context and with respect to mastering literary skills; the crucial place of developing our understanding of vocabulary; and the effective use of supporting visual images. Meanwhile, throughout the book, suggestions based on sound underpinning theory about what learning is, and how it happens, are fleshed out with helpful close analysis and annotation of specific literary passages.

    Tharby claims, “Great English teachers must live and breathe their subject.” Making Every English Lesson Count is testament to the fact that Tharby himself is definitely among their number.

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