AQA · AQA new specification · For Pupils · Reading skills · Teaching Ideas

Using images to practise summary and synthesis skills for Lang paper 2 question 2

Updated November 2017: the link to the resources is now here:

A short blog on paper 2 skills.

On a recent visit to a school, one of the English teachers talked about how they are using images to help develop synthesis and summary skills for paper 2. Inspired by this, I’ve put together a little lesson which I will run with my year 11s as we approach our revision.

I decided to use two images, both captured from Google – the links are beneath the image.  They depict classrooms from two very different eras: one is from a BBC site about Victorian schools which follows the theme of paper 2; the other is of a contemporary class room/learning environment. It doesn’t matter which images you choose but having a common thread helps to follow the pattern of question 2 and enables pupils to contextualise the differences or similarities. Screen Shot 2017-03-11 at 12.40.26

The older image is taken from; the second one from this site:

This is old-fashioned media studies. Firstly we need to get students to look at the ‘what’ or in media studies language, the denotation of the image. Then we need to explore the connotations – or, in paper 2 parlance, the inferences we make.

Screen Shot 2017-03-11 at 12.41.12Screen Shot 2017-03-11 at 12.41.19

Any regular visitors to this blog know I like tables and structure, and here they help to categorise thinking into clear sections.

Finally, we need to put these ideas together into paragraphs. Using SQI (statement, quotation, inference) we can construct a fairly simple, but effective, paragraph. Screen Shot 2017-03-11 at 12.52.48

The above response feels ‘level 3’ ish. It follows the SQI sequence fairly rigidly and offers a clear inference on the details in the image. Remember, clear and simple links will suffice. This response shows an understanding of the difference between the two images. I like the last sentence which consolidates the differences between the texts.

Compare this to a more developed – and therefore more detailed and complex – response:

Screen Shot 2017-03-11 at 12.57.26

In this response, the differences between the two images are explained and sustained; there is a sense that ‘the student’ has been able to hold both images together in their minds and formulate a new (synthesised) response. The use of the word ‘austere’ in the first sentence gets an inference in early doors so the examiner is starting to think level 3 already. There are a couple of inferences for each ‘quotation’ so this is starting to feel ‘level 4’ territory.

If you want the PPT, email me and I’ll send it to you.

Thank you to Earls High School in Halesowen.


32 thoughts on “Using images to practise summary and synthesis skills for Lang paper 2 question 2

  1. Hi,

    Would be really grateful for the PowerPoint.

    Many thanks,


    Mrs M. Morris,

    Assistant Headteacher,

    Priory Academy,

    Britain Street,



    LU5 4JA


    Telephone: 01582 661158 (ext 211)



  2. Hi, I think is fantastic and just what my year 10 need to help them (it will probably help a lot of year 11 too).
    I would really appreciate you emailing to me.

    Thanks again.

    Kind regards,
    Diane Brown


  3. Your thinking about how to teach the new AQA spec has been so helpful to me and my students. Thank you so much. Would you be able to send me a copy of your ppt on using images to teach Q2 paper 2?


  4. I’d greatly appreciate a copy of your PowerPoint. It is fabulous and will be so useful for my set 9 students.


  5. Hi, I’d really appreciate the powerpoint for Using images to practise summary and synthesis skills for Lang paper 2 question 2, if you still have it. Thanks for all your great ideas!


  6. Hello Mr Hanson, I love all your resources and they really help the students that come to me in first year college that have failed the year before. Would you mind sending me the PPT for this lesson please?
    Many thanks in advance


  7. Hello Mr Hanson,Thank you very much for the useful learning resources.I would be so grateful if I could receive the PPT for this lesson as I’m planning to take GCSE English language for career purposes in the future.
    Kind Regards!
    Rid jay.


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