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Assessment

Persuasive Writing: A Letter to Parliament

Students write a persuasive letter to Parliament concerning the gig economy, having reviewed persuasive devices, generated claims and content, and read a model letter.

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This resource is intended for educators in the United Kingdom.

At a Glance

Assessment

Language

English — UK

Grade

6–12
  • Democracy & Civic Engagement
  • Human & Civil Rights

Overview

About this GCSE Supplement

This optional GCSE supplement gives students the opportunity to link the content of An Inspector Calls to modern society and current issues concerning workers’ rights, whilst at the same time preparing students for the English Language GCSE. The activities in this writing supplement can help students make connections across texts and consider multiple perspectives, and works to develop their persuasive writing skills and provides them with a real-world writing task. 

This GCSE supplement is not a lesson and does not need to be taught as such. It is structured in such a way as to ensure that the various steps necessary for writing an effective persuasive letter are outlined in an appropriate order: 

  1. Engage with a stimulus
  2. Develop claims and content
  3. Read a model letter
  4. Plan and write the letter
  5. Respond to feedback and redraft

Depending on how many class periods you can devote to writing instruction, you may decide that your class does not need to follow all of the steps, that your students will engage with just one stimulus rather than two, or that you want your class to do some of the steps in class and others at home. Engage with the GCSE supplements in this scheme of work in the way that works for your class context, adapting them to their needs as you see fit. 

In this GCSE supplement, students will read two articles from a broadsheet newspaper and answer questions on their content, thereby practising their comprehension skills and making connections across texts. Then, they will develop their persuasive writing skills by writing a formal letter.

  • Clear and Coherent Writing (Lit-AO4, Lang-AO5/AO6)
  • Comparison and Evaluation Skills (Lang-AO3/AO4)
  • Critical Reading (Lit-AO1/AO3, Lang-AO1–4)
  • Knowledge of Subject Terminology (Lit-AO2, Lang-AO2)
  • Reading Comprehension (Lit-AO1, Lang-AO1)
  • Summarising and Synthesising Skills (Lang-AO1)
  • Writing for Impact (form, audience, purpose) (Lang-AO5)

Students engage with the video and articles critically, answering questions that test their comprehension of the content, and that require them to use their comparison, summarising and synthesising skills. For the articles, they are also required to evaluate the consequences of the gig economy. Such rich stimuli will help them generate ideas for their persuasive letter, when they must write for impact, considering the form, audience and purpose of their piece. The model and planning aid helps students write clearly and coherently: they are given inspiration for sentence starters and see how to structure their piece. Finally, if teachers are using Marking Criteria Codes to provide feedback and give students the opportunity to engage with this feedback and redraft their work, then students will make great progress as writers: they can improve the structure and content of their writing, whilst also enhancing their spelling, punctuation and grammar skills. Before starting their letter, students have the opportunity to review subject terminology linked to persuasive literary devices, if needed.

This GCSE Supplement includes:

  • 5 steps
  • 4 teaching strategies
  • 4 handouts
  • 1 video
  • 1 reading

Preparing to Teach

A Note to Teachers

Before teaching this GCSE supplement, please review the following information to help guide your preparation process.

In this GCSE supplement, students are required to choose a perspective and write a letter to the government in response to the following statement: The gig economy is dangerous and should be completely banned. To improve students’ engagement and to encourage them to take the letter seriously, you may wish to give them the address of their local Member of Parliament and then collect the student letters to send once they have reviewed and redrafted their letters. This will also encourage students to engage with the marking and redraft their work, which is a vital way of supporting their development as writers.

Please note, it is important that you preview the Sorry We Missed You Trailer before showing it to your class as there are two instances of swearing (at 0:51 and 2:11). You may wish to cut the sound when they occur if appropriate for your context. If you play the trailer with sound in its entirety, it would be wise to review your class contract before watching the trailer and discuss the importance of responding to offensive language maturely. 

There are two model letters contained within the handout Persuasive Letter Writing Examples. Please select the appropriate model for your students – you may choose to use both intermediate and advanced models in the same class so that your students can access the content at a level appropriate for them. If you do so, you would need to decide how students read the model. You could group students according to level and have them read the models aloud or ask students to read the models independently.

We recommend that teachers use Marking Criteria Codes when reviewing students’ written work to help them develop the structure and content of their writing, and their written English. These marking criteria codes enable teachers to nurture their students as effective writers by giving them in-depth feedback, which requires proactive student engagement.

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Procedures

Suggested Activities and Steps

Watch a Film Trailer on the Gig Economy

  • First, to give students a visual insight and to prompt discussion into what is meant by the gig economy and a zero-hours contract, show students the Sorry We Missed You Trailer. Please note, there are two instances of swearing in this trailer, so you may wish to review your class contract before watching the trailer and discuss the importance of responding to offensive language maturely.  
  • After viewing, give students a few minutes to process in an S-I-T reflection.  
  • Then, have them discuss some or all of the following questions in groups before inviting some students to share their responses with the class:
    • What is something that you wrote in your S-I-T reflection? 
    • Why do you think the film is called Sorry We Missed You?
    • What jobs do the two parents do? What different things did you learn about their jobs and conditions in the trailer? 
    • How does Ken Loach, the film’s director, present jobs with zero-hours contracts? How does this differ to the way that he presents the people in charge (i.e. the boss in the package warehouse)?
    • Who is most impacted by zero-hours job contracts? Why do you think employers use them? What do they mean for society? 
  • What are the similarities/differences to the way workers are exploited here and how they are exploited in An Inspector Calls?

Read Two Articles on the Gig Economy

  • Give students a copy of the reading Perspectives on the Gig Economy and read them as a class or in groups, choosing a read aloud strategy. Then ask students to work in pairs and discuss the Connection questions that follow the articles.
  • Debrief the articles by asking each pair to share their responses on a different question, taking some time to discuss as a class the questions that interest or challenge your students.
  • Inform students that they are preparing to write a persuasive letter to the government in response to the following statement: The gig economy is dangerous and should be completely banned. Students can choose which perspective they are writing from. If it is useful for your students to recap their knowledge of persuasive writing techniques, give them the handout Persuasive Techniques Word Match. 
  • As a class, brainstorm two lists: one outlining the positives of the gig economy and another outlining the negatives. If your students need help, possible positives include flexibility in choosing working hours, freedom to control where one works, the ability to work in a variety of jobs. Negatives could include the fact that the gig economy may be harmful for people, for business, and may mention the consequences of the government letting it continue unchecked, and so forth.
  • Next, invite students to select their position on the statement: The gig economy is dangerous and should be completely banned. Inform them that they do not need to be completely for or against the statement, but that they can consider both sides of the argument. They should, however, think about what it is they are asking of the government in their letter. 
  • Now, explain to students that to write an effective letter, they need to ensure that all of the claims that they use are well developed and link to their position on the given statement: The gig economy is dangerous and should be completely banned. They should support their position by thinking of relevant claims, and thinking about how they can develop these claims with supporting ideas. 
  • To help them with this process, give your students the Persuasive Writing Planning Chart – Claim Development and project the example on the board or model your own, explicitly outlining your thinking.

Topic Statement: The gig economy is dangerous and should be completely banned


| Claim One |
The gig economy will be bad for business in the long run. 


| Supporting Idea |
Mistreatment of workers encourages a high turnover of staff, people will not feel loyal to a company that treats them badly.


Persuasive Device |
Assertion: Long-serving staff are vital for success. 
Rhetorical question: How much money do you think is wasted in having to retrain staff again and again? 


| Supporting Idea |
If people hear about how organisations treat their workers, this could lead to boycotts.


| Persuasive Device |
Statistic: People care more and more about spending their money ethically – the UK ethical consumer market is four times bigger than it was twenty years ago. 1
Imperative & repetition: Act now to improve working conditions, act now for the greater good, act now to treat humans as humans


This table is best viewed on a desktop computer. If viewing on a mobile device, it's recommended to do so in landscape position.


  • Encourage your students to look for ideas in the two gig economy articles, but also explain to them that when they are filling in their chart, they can be creative with their ideas, providing their ideas are realistic and relevant to the central argument of the letter. 
  • If helpful, you can give your students the following claims or brainstorm potential claims as a class on the board:

    For

    • The gig economy will be bad for business in the long run.
    • The gig economy is dangerous for society.
    • The gig economy is tearing families apart.

    Against

    • The gig economy gives workers ultimate flexibility.
    • Whether or not people want to become gig economy workers is down to them – people have the right to choose for themselves.
    • The gig economy allows people to work in areas that interest them.
  • 1Twenty Years of Ethical Consumerism, The Co-op, 2019
  • Once your students have completed one or two claim rows on the Persuasive Writing Planning Chart – Claim Development, hand out one of the model Persuasive Letter Writing Examples, choosing the right model for your students’ level (see Notes to Teachers, above).
  • Depending on the models you use, you can read out the letter as a class using one of the read aloud strategies, group students together according to ability, or ask students to read the letter independently.
  • Once students have read the letter, give them time to reread it independently and annotate its content. You may wish to give them the following questions to focus their annotation: 
    • Circle or underline persuasive writing techniques
    • Circle or underline claims the author uses
    • Circle or underline the evidence the author uses to support their claims
    • What do you notice about the supporting ideas? How many are there?
    • How does the writer link their ideas together? 
    • Put a question mark by ideas you don’t understand or find puzzling
  • Give the students ten minutes to discuss their annotations with a partner using the Think, Pair, Share strategy and then invite some students to share their ideas or any queries they have with the class. 
  • Invite students to revisit their Persuasive Writing Planning Chart – Claim Development and add any additional ideas that have come to mind since reading the letter example.
  • Finally, give students the Persuasive Letter Planning Aid handout and ask them to use it first to plan and then to write a letter to the government outlining their position on the statement: The gig economy is dangerous and should be completely banned
  • To help them with the planning process, you may wish to project this structure on the board: 
    • Opening paragraph: Outline why you are writing – refer to your opinion on the gig economy
    • Paragraph one: claim one + two supporting ideas (each with two persuasive devices)
    • Paragraph two: claim two + two supporting ideas (each with two persuasive devices)
    • Paragraph three: claim three + two supporting ideas (each with two persuasive devices)
    • Closing paragraph: Summary of message and call to action
  • When students give you back their letters, consider using the Marking Criteria Codes teaching strategy to give in-depth feedback and to boost student engagement with marking.
  • Then, give students an opportunity to redraft their work, taking on board the suggested improvements. It can be powerful for students to engage in real-world writing tasks for an audience beyond their teacher and peers, so consider having students send their revised letters to their Member of Parliament.

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