Irony - How to Get that A*

Having just sent off hundreds of marked GCSE papers back to the exam board, I am left with a lasting impression of some excellent, riveting and sophisticated writing. However, to achieve that A* grade the students had a tough challenge. As the mark scheme states, the students must ‘employ a tone that is … manipulative, subtle and increasingly abstract’. On top of that, they need to ‘use linguistic device … irony and satire, in a consciously crafted way that is increasingly sustained’. Wow, more easily said than done.

As a tutor, it is my job to show my high achieving students how they can reach A*; so how to breakdown the complexities of irony and satire, and to encourage an abstract tone? Well, from experience it takes much modelling of good examples, and carefully guided writing. Here is one example written by a bright GCSE student in Year 10. The question was adapted from one of last years AQA controlled assessment creative writing task (‘having a rant’) and it was completed in 40 minutes. There was an added challenge for him since he suffers from mild asperges, so irony is a difficult concept for him but here is the result.

Write a newspaper weekly column as a guest columnist on the British weather.

Why? Why does it have to be us? Why do we have to be an island? Hey rain, why don’t you go give Spain a shower for a change? They barely get anything. whilst we have to endure the ‘great’ British weather day in, day out, those lucky sun-drunk Spaniards laugh at us while relaxing in the sun 24/7. Even if we try to enjoy those all important football and cricket matches, the heavens happily destroy any hope, as they open with relish. What have we done to suffer such torture? Such torment?

But it doesn’t end there, my unfortunate fellow Brits.

This column wouldn’t be complete if there isn’t anything about the completely broken seasons. Yes. Broken. It’s like some mad scientist actually programmed our seasons, but messed it up completely. Could he be Spanish? But anyway, it’s utterly soul destroying.

Remember when you raved in excitement when summer came? Yes, I did too. I used to think that we can enjoy that scorching sun shining like a bright flare of fire. However. Apparently that is too much for our country, because guess what? We only get two days! Yes, two daring, delicious days before the clouds kick in and ruin us for another year. How pleasant.

And because of that, our weather is too predictable to the point where life is all but miserable. Monday, rain. Tuesday, rain. Wednesday… i can’t even be bloody bothered to finish. Just imagine if we were like America, where there would sometimes be four seasons in one day. That would be great. Who am I kidding? That will never happen.

One solo saving grace for Britain? We don’t get extremes. Take that Spain!