Five reasons why reading is good for your health

I am a complete book worm. I love reading, delving into new worlds, learning new things and improving my vocabulary. In my opinion, you should too! Here are some reasons why…

In my first years of studying I took an English course to improve my language skills. It was a nice surprise then, when I found out two of the books we had to read were already on my own ‘to read’ list! I thought this was wonderful because not only was I able to study and understand the language of these books, but got to enjoy the course in many more ways. It didn’t feel like work, which is always the dream!

So, what are the benefits of reading, and can I convince more of you to do it?

  • Reading reduces stress

I have a rule that every night I do my best to read a few chapters before going to bed. Since doing so I have had much longer and deeper sleep and find I am more productive throughout the day.  Reading helps you forget your worries as you focus on the story. After a few chapters, things will seem much less stressful than they did before. The article linked below adds more to the case.

 https://www.telegraph.co.uk/news/health/news/5070874/Reading-can-help-reduce-stress.html

  • You will learn new things

I have just finished reading Deborah Harkness’ vampire trilogy and could not believe how many facts and so much history one author packed into such them! It’s amazing what you can discover when you pick up a book and start reading. You could even find an interest in something you’d never heard of before.

  • Your memory will improve

One of the best things about reading is it can improve your memory no matter what your age. It has also been linked to longevity, helping to prevent Alzheimer’s and just keeping your memory sharper than it would be without. So why wouldn’t you want to read? The link below has more about this.

https://www.alzheimers.org.uk/about-dementia/risk-factors-and-prevention/how-reduce-your-risk-dementia 

  • It can fuel your creativity

Sometimes you can feel like you’ve hit a brick wall with a particular essay. This may mean you need a break, but rather than watching some TV, I find that picking up a book unrelated to your course can give your mind a better chance to relax and think more clearly. It’s a great way to press pause and will often help us to go back and break that wall.

  • You’ll find your focus improving

Ever been sat on the sofa or propped up in bed with a good book, glanced over at the clock and realised a few hours have passed since you sat down? Well that is a sure sign your focus is working and a great indication that you’re relaxing too. When reading you are focusing on all the words, the story, turning pages and thinking ahead, which is a lot of multitasking, meaning your focus is automatically improved!

The next time you’re undecided whether to pick something off the shelf to read, then, I recommend you don’t hesitate!

 

 

The celebrated explorer, navigator and cartographer James Cook was born on October 27th, 1728 in the village of Marton, near Middlesbrough. He was from a large farming family, and helped out at home until he was 16. He then took an apprenticeship with a shopkeeper, but never settled, and soon swapped to another apprenticeship, this time working on coal ships. James loved the work, and in 1752 he passed the exams which would eventually enable him to help command a ship.

The Mariner’s Museum records how Cook, “…completed his three-year apprenticeship in April 1750, then went on to volunteer for the Royal Navy. He would soon have the opportunity to explore and learn more about seafaring. He was assigned to serve on the HMS Eagle where he was quickly promoted to the position of captain’s mate due to his experience and skills. In 1757, he was transferred to the Pembroke and sent to Nova Scotia, Canada, to fight in the Seven Years’ War.” During this war, Cook’s skills as a surveyor and cartographer were put to great use and led him to plan many attacks.

In 1760, Cook helped map the entire coast of Newfoundland. Once again, his exceptional mapping skills brought him attention, particularly that of the Royal Society and Admiralty, who would use his maps for voyages for the next 200 years.

On 30th July, 1768, Cook set off on his first great expedition, aboard the Endeavour, with a crew of 84. Amongst them were several scientists, their mission being to record the journey on new maps and explore as many unknown lands as possible.

In 1769 the Endeavour reached South America. Proceeding further, the crew set up a research base in Tahiti, which they named Fort Venus. One of Cook’s most renowned achievements occurred on June 3rd that year, when the transit of that planet was observed and recorded.

They left Tahiti in August, and sailed blindly for several weeks. It wasn’t until October 6th that land was sighted again, when Endeavour reached the country we now know as New Zealand. Cook named its first feature Poverty Bay. On all his travels, Cook tried to mix with the local populations and collect plant and animal life. In Poverty Bay, however, the native population was unfriendly, so he decided to sail south along the coast. As he did so, Cook noted many of the separate islands that cluster around New Zealand, and he named most; from Bare Island to Cape Turnagain. When the Endeavour turned around to reface the northernmost tip of the island, Cook realised that New Zealand itself was made up of two large separate islands.

In April 1770, Cook spotted the coastline of Australia. He landed in Botany Bay near modern day Sydney, before exploring the area. Then began the long journey back to England, via Batavia in Indonesia, before they finally returned to London in July 1771. A full chart of this first expedition is pictured above.

In 1772, Cook was promoted to full Captain and given command of two ships, the Resolution and Adventure, tasked to look for the Southern Continent. His explorations continued until he was 50, when his interest in the lives of native populations led to his downfall.

Captain Cook’s final voyage took place on board the HMS Resolution, and now he became the first sailor to land a ship on the Hawaiian Islands. This visit was initially successful, and Cook left the island with much information, before heading to America. A few months later he returned to Hawaii – but he’d outstayed his welcome. The local population had tired of him interfering in their way of life and at Kealakekua Bay, while trying to negotiate repairs to his boats, on 14th February, 1779, a fight broke out and he was killed.

James Cook is the first British ship commander to circumnavigate the globe in a lone ship. He is also the first British commander to prevent the outbreak of scurvy by regulating his crew’s diet, by serving them citrus fruit. He charted many regions and recorded many European islands and coastlines for the first time. Cook also provided new information about the Pacific Ocean and its islands. Further, he met with and recorded information about their various peoples. Again, none were previously known at the time.

While his methods would be seen as intrusive today, Cook was a man of his time, and his skill at surveying unexplored lands and seas can’t be denied. The long term importance of Captain Cook’s discoveries, coupled with his fearlessness to do so, have meant that we continue to commemorate his achievements today. A NASA space shuttle is even named Endeavour, after his first ship.

On October 23rd, 1642, on fields between the town of Kineton and the village of Radway, Warwickshire, the first battle of the English Civil War was fought. As the fighting took place in the shadow of the Edgehill escarpment, it became known as the Battle of Edgehill.

Although this was the first battle of the war, the Crown had been in a state of war against Parliament since the 22nd of August that year. King Charles was in conflict with his Parliament because he believed in the Divine Right of Kings; that the monarch should be able to rule however he liked. Charles was particularly insistent that he should be able to raise money for foreign wars as often, and in whatever way, he saw fit. Conversely, Parliament believed they were entitled to a say in the rule of England, and that they had the right to approve or deny funds to the crown without consulting the king.

It was when, in October 1642, as the king’s army headed for London, they met with Parliament’s forces coming in the opposite direction (from Worcester) and blocked the Royalists route to the capital, that physical battle became inevitable. The Parliamentarian force, of approximately 12,500 men, was led by Robert Devereux, Third Earl of Essex (known as the Captain General). King Charles was represented by Patrick Ruthven, the Earl of Forth, from Scotland. He had 13,500 men to his company. Beginning with an exchange of cannon fire at two o’clock in the afternoon, the battle entered into its first active combat situation at three o’clock. As the light faded, only three hours later, the fighting broke off, only to resume again in occasional bouts over the next two days. It ended on the Tuesday, when the Earl of Forth’s men attacked the Parliamentarian baggage train in Kineton.

The battle, which had involved both cavalry and infantry engagements, ended in a stalemate, with between 1,000 and 1500 men dead and over 3000 injured; many of whom later died from their wounds. Although neither side had gained the upper hand, King Charles declared Edgehill a victory for his side, as his troops had opened the road to London, which the Parliamentarians had previously been barring.

Only a few weeks later however, the Earl of Essex had taken control of London, and the Civil War began in earnest. The Battle of Edgehill was the beginning of a war which would see mass disruption to the whole of England, and would not end until King Charles I was captured in 1646. Charles was then executed, sending England into the status of republic for the next 11 years as a under the rule of the victorious Oliver Cromwell.

On 11th October 1982, King Henry VIII’s flagship, the Mary Rose, was raised from the ocean bed after 437 years beneath the sea.

Originally due to join the English forces against the French on 19th July 1545, her campaign ended almost before it had begun. As she left Portsmouth harbour a freak gust of wind tilted her onto her side and she filled with water at a terrifying speed. Even though the ship had travelled less than a mile, only 30 of the 415 men on board survived. Trapped by the netting that had been put up to prevent the French from boarding the ship during battle, nearly everyone drowned, including the Vice Admiral, Sir George Carew and her captain Roger Grenville. King Henry VIII gave orders for the Mary Rose to be raised straight away, but all attempts failed. Another attempt was made to liberate her from the ocean in the nineteenth century, but it wasn’t until the twentieth century that historians were successful in their quest.

In 1967 the Mary Rose Committee was formed. This group recognised the cultural, military and historic importance of the ship and it was decided to excavate the hull completely, to attempt to recover her for conservation and permanent display. In 1971, with very little money and a team of volunteers, the shipwreck excavation began; continuing until 1978.
Straight away the underwater archaeologists began to uncover information about Tudor life on the ship. They discovered the bow was preserved just as it had been in 1545 when it settled on the seabed, with artefacts, personal possessions and ship’s stores all intact. Far more was learned about the Tudor way of life once the ship was raised in 1982. The procedure, which was difficult and delicate, was achieved by attaching a vast metal cradle lined with air bags beneath the hull, which was slowly and gently raised to the surface. It was another 30 years however, before the timbers of the ship were preserved well enough to be displayed to the public.

The Mary Rose is a time capsule of Tudor life. The historian David Starkey referred to it as, “Britain’s Pompeii.” Not only can we learn about the ship’s construction, but we can gain a real insight into the daily lives of the sailors on board, but about the men themselves. Maritime archaeologist Alex Hildred explains, “…men and boys – whose ages range from 12 to 40 – were found on board… (giving) a really good glimpse of Tudor males at a moment in time… They were pretty well fed once they were on the ship – we know that from the diet. But there had been severe famines in the 1520s, so some of their bones have got evidence of vitamin deficiency, such as rickets or sometimes scurvy from the fact that they suffered as children. They’ve also got a lot of healed fractures – which is what you’d expect on a warship – a number of broken noses, one arrow wound and some arthritis. These guys were used to lifting heavy things.”

The Mary Rose also provides us with a perfect snapshot of the tools used by many of the tradesmen of the time; such as carpenters, cobblers and cooks. Nearly all of the items from the sailors’ working lives and their personal possessions, including gaming dice and other recreational activities, have been captured within the wreck.

The tragedy of the Mary Rose was a major blow for King Henry VIII’s war effort and the local population of Portsmouth. Today, however, it provides us with a window to the past, and a unique historical catalogue of Tudor life.

The year 2018 is the 100th anniversary of the outbreak of the first worldwide influenza pandemic. Known as Spanish Flu, this major outbreak claimed the lives of between 50 and 100 million people across the globe in 1918. The Guardian newspaper records that, “By the time the pandemic finally ended, it had killed around 25 times more people than any other flu outbreak in history. It killed possibly more people than the first and second world wars put together.”

Unlike the flu strains we recognise today, Spanish Flu was not claiming the lives of young children and the elderly as we’d expect, but was at its most virulent in healthy young adults. At a time when the First World War was  already claiming millions of men’s lives, it must have felt like the end of the world, and at its height, panic was rife.

Many myths and misconceptions have grown up around Spanish Flu. The biggest of all being that it had begun in Spain. This was not the case. As the epidemic raged against the backdrop of the First World War, the countries involved, Germany, Austria, France, the United Kingdom and the U.S, did not want morale worsened by either side believing that their own nation was the source of the flu. Consequently, and much to its annoyance, the neutral country of Spain was chosen to have the virus named after it and create the false impression they were bearing the brunt of the disease. In reality, the geographical starting point of the pandemic is still debated, with both East Asia and other parts of Europe more likely hosts.

As the virus spread very quickly, killing 25 million people in the first six months, it is understandable that many came to believe that Spanish Flu was a uniquely lethal strain. However, recent studies have suggested that it was only so virulent because of the conditions of the time. War meant that there was severe overcrowding and poor sanitation in many environments such as military camps. Poor living conditions led to bacterial pneumonia in the lungs being a relatively common condition amongst soldiers during the war years; once this has been contracted, the flu could get hold much faster. If the flu hadn’t had each an easy path to contagion, then it may have caused no more deaths than other epidemics.

As Richard Gunderman, the Chancellor’s Professor of Medicine, Liberal Arts, and Philanthropy at Indiana University, explained to The Conversation newsletter, “During the first half of 1918, new studies reveal that the death rate was relatively low. It was in late October and November of 1918 and early 1919 that higher death rates occurred, when people with flu symptoms began to crowd into hospitals in panic, and thus spread the disease further.”

In 2008, researchers announced that they had successfully determined the gene sequence of Spanish Flu. This was possible because one of the flu’s original victims, British diplomat Mark Sykes, was disinterred from his lead-lined coffin so that researchers could study his remains. The Guardian reports that, “The purpose was to enable researchers to take samples, from his remains, of the H1N1 virus strain that caused the Spanish flu. Such samples, now under high-security lock and key in Atlanta, have been examined for clues as to why this strain was so potent and how a future pandemic might be contained.”

Every few decades a new flu epidemic occurs. Scientists believe that the next pandemic will happen sooner rather than later, and that the more we can learn from the 1918 outbreak, the more prepared we will be.

On June 215, 803 years ago, King John famously signed the Magna Carta at Runnymede, near Windsor. This document was to become one of the most important manuscripts in history. The King only agreed to sign this ‘Great Character’ after the barons who opposed his total rule of the country and England’s lands overseas, captured London in May 1215. This act of violence, with threats of more to come, left John with little choice but to agree to sign the charter, and thus create peace between the Crown and the rebel barons.

Speaking at the time of the Magna Carta’s 800th birthday, historian Justin Fisher said, “Magna Carta is a cornerstone of the individual liberties that we enjoy, and it presents an ongoing challenge to arbitrary rule. But over time, while not envisaged at the time of its drafting, Magna Carta has for many been seen not only as a foundation of liberty, but also one of democracy.”

At a basic level, the Magna Carta stated that everyone in the country was subject to the law, even the king (a clause that King John was particularly opposed to). In all, there were 63 clauses to the charter. Only three of those remain on the statute books today. The first of these concerns the defence of the liberties and rights of the English Church. The second agrees to the liberties and customs of London and other towns across England. The third (originally clause 39) is possibly the most important of all when thought of in context to all the periods of history between the thirteenth century and now. It gave all English subjects the right to justice and a fair trial. This clause says, “No free man shall be seized or imprisoned, or stripped of his rights or possessions, or outlawed or exiled, or deprived of his standing in any other way, nor will we proceed with force against him, or send others to do so, except by the lawful judgement of his equals or by the law of the land. To no one will we sell, to no one deny or delay right or justice.”

Despite these fine words, few men and women in England were actually free in the thirteenth century. The country was run under the feudal system, which gave everyone a strict class within which to live. However, the bill did establish a principle of fairness – that no one should be imprisoned or wronged outside of the legal system.

Although little of the original clauses in the Magna Carta remain as laws today, what has remained is what the document between the Crown and the State symbolise. As Justin Fisher explains, “From this principle of the rule of law and equality before the law comes the inspiration for declarations of human rights.” The Bill of Rights of 1689 in Britain, the Declaration of the Rights of Man and the Citizen of 1789 in France, and the Bill of Rights in the United States in 1791 all grew from this first principle established by the rebel barons who opposed King John. From those later laws the Universal Declaration of Human Rights (UDHR) was adopted in 1948, and ultimately, so too was the British Human Rights Act of 1998 developed.

Back in the thirteenth century, King John hated the limits the document forced upon him. He was so determined to get revenge upon his barons that he wrote to the Pope, who agreed to destroy the charter. He annulled the document, calling it, “Illegal, unjust, harmful to royal rights and shameful to the English people… null and void of all validity forever.”
Despite this, the Magna Carta has been reinterpreted by every generation since it was first signed, with a view to make a fairer legal system- and even develop a democratic country. Although the concept of democracy was but a dream in the thirteenth century, by the seventeenth it was beginning to be debated and linked to the idea of all men being equal in the eyes of the law- just as stated in the Magna Carta.

While the Magna Carta may not be obviously relevant to our own daily lives, 800 years since its conception it has come to stand for things we broadly take for granted: democracy, social equality and a fair legal system – as important today as they always have been, and perhaps even more so.

With the forthcoming wedding of Prince Harry and Miss Meghan Markle on 19th May it is easy to forget that another royal celebration is not far away. On 2nd June this year, Queen Elizabeth II celebrates 65 years since her coronation; her Sapphire jubilee.

The Queen was crowned in 1953, in Westminster Abbey, aged just 27. The ceremony took place just over a year after she came to the throne in February 1952. This long gap between her ascension and her coronation was due to the fact she considered it improper to hold a coronation during her period of mourning. Unlike the anniversary of her ascension to the throne, which the Queen sees primarily as a personal occasion remembering her father, the anniversary of her coronation is cause for celebration. That said, when talking to The Telegraph newspaper in 2015, on the occasion of becoming the UK’s longest reigning monarch, the Queen said of her record that it was “not one to which I have ever aspired.”

Such was the enthusiasm for the Queen’s coronation that millions across the country managed to watch it live, even at a time when such viewing figures were unheard of and television was still relatively new. In London, people lined the streets to watch see the Queen and Prince Philip go by in their carriage. Street parties were held in celebration across the UK and the Commonwealth, and commemorative coins and medals were issued.

Some travelled from abroad to be there. Many Canadians came to see the coronation, for instance, while for those back home, on the very same day pilots from RAF Canberra flew BBC film of the ceremony across the ocean so it could be broadcast by the Canadian Broadcast Corporation. In fact, this was the first non-stop  transatlantic flight between the United Kingdom and the Canadian mainland. In all, 750 commentators across the world broadcast the ceremony, with it being translated into 39 languages. Consequently, more than twenty million people worldwide watched the coverage of the Queen receiving the Crown Jewels and taking her place on the throne.

For the 65th (Sapphire) anniversary special coins will again be issued, including a brand new 50 pence piece which has the final words of the Coronation oath, that Queen Elizabeth spoke during her coronation speech: “The things which I have here before promised, I will perform and keep. So help me God.” Other coins have also been released for collectors, including an unusual £4 coin and a star shaped silver coin worth £149. (See here for more information- https://www.bnt.org.uk/events-themes/the-queen/65th-anniversary-of-queens-coronation)

So, only a few weeks after Prince Harry and Meghan start their married life together, the bunting will be up again to celebrate Queen Elizabeth’s II outstanding lifetime of devotion to her country.

This month, after decades of control over the country of Cuba, Raul Castro promised to step down as the countries president when his current term is up. This will bring an end to a regime which began when Fidel Castro took power in 1959, turning Cuba into a communist state.

Born on 13th August 1926, Fidel Castro came from the town of Biran in eastern Cuba. The son of a wealthy Spanish sugarcane farmer and a Cuban servant, Castro grew up with an acute interest in politics and the law. He studied law at the University of Havana, and entered the world of politics by joining the anti-corruption Orthodox party. In 1952, Castro ran for election into the Cuban House of Representatives but the election never took place. For in March 1952, the dictator, Batista, seized power. Castro famously stated this as being the beginning of his political journey: “From that moment on, I had a clear idea of the struggle ahead.”

That journey was to be a complex and bloody one. In 1953 he led a failed assault on the Moncada army barracks in Santiago de Cuba and was sentenced to 15 years in prison. However, two years later, in a bid to improve his standing with the USA, Batista released Castro as part of a general amnesty. Castro headed to Mexico, where he formed a working relationship with the revolutionary “Che” Guevara.

Determined to return to Cuba, in 1956 Castro, with a force of 81 men, sailed to the east coast of Cuba. As soon as they landed, government forces ambushed them. Only a handful of men survived, including Castro and his brother Raúl. They went into hiding in the Sierra Maestra Mountains. It was from there, with few resources at their disposal, that Castro and his brother began to organise the revolution which would change Cuba forever. By 1957 they were attracting recruits and winning small battles against armed patrols.

On January 1st, 1959, Fidel Castro arrived in Havana, and a week later he’d taken the position of prime minister. He wasted no time in turning Cuba into his idealised state. He nationalized all U.S. owned businesses, which prompted the United States to end diplomatic relations and impose a trade embargo. Reprisals were to go further than this, however. In April 1961, 1,400 Cuban exiles, funded by the CIA, landed near Cuba’s Bay of Pigs hoping to overthrow its new leader. Their plans ended in disaster though, as more than 100 exiles were killed and nearly everyone remaining was captured.

After declaring himself a Marxist-Leninist in late 1961, Castro began to make Cuba dependent on the communist Soviet Union for both its military and economic support. Cuba’s association with the USSR soon led to a dramatic escalation of tensions between the USA and Cuba; something that worsened in 1962 when it was discovered that Cuba was keeping a number of nuclear missiles just 90 miles from Florida.

As world diplomacy fought hard to stem panic that World War Three was imminent, after almost 2 weeks the Soviet Union agreed to remove the missiles. In return for the removal of the weapons, President Kennedy of America promised not to re-invade Cuba or attack Castro.

Despite his hostile approach to the rest of the world, Fidel Castro did many positive things within Cuba itself. He abolished legal discrimination, established electricity supplies to the countryside, provided for full employment and advanced improved education and health care. A recent report from Havana by The Guardian, explains that, “Thanks to universal and free education and healthcare, however, Cuba boasts first-world levels of literacy and life expectancy. The commandant made sure the state reached the poorest, a commitment denied to many slum-dwellers across Latin America.” However, these perks came at a price. Castro stopped any opposition to his rule, jailed thousands of political opponents and ended political elections.

The biggest impact of Fidel Castro’s rule on the population of the country was the abolition of private business and housing. The ruling government owned everything. This meant that hundreds of thousands of Cubans, including vast numbers of professionals and technicians, left Cuba, leaving the country, despite its educational gains, poor and lacking a skilled workforce. It was a status that would remain in place for many years to come.

Having switched his title from Prime Minister to President, Fidel Castro stayed in power until 2008, when he passed the rule to his brother, Raúl. Now, ten years later, (and 2 years after Fidel’s death), Raúl Castro has promised to step down at the end of his second term as president. Whether this will bring the hoped for upturn in Cuba’s economy and the life of its population remains to be seen. The chosen successor to the Castro dynasty, Miguel Díaz-Canel, shares the ethos of the family, and Raúl Castro himself will remain in control of the Communist Party and the armed forces until 2021. However, the fact that a change has been made has to be seen as a positive sign.Whatever happens next, the world at large, and the USA in particular, will be watching Cuba with interest.

Many of you who are doing exams this year will be revising or starting to think about revising. As a tutor, I am often asked, “What should I revise?” The answer is, unfortunately, everything that you have covered in the course. No one except the exam writers know what is going to be in the exams in any single year, so always make sure that you cover everything.

Barnaby Lenon, an ex-headmaster at Harrow, has recently written in a blog that GCSE students should revise their course at least three times. The same applies for A level students, but officially there is no magic number given as to how many times you should do so. Usually, however, it will be more than once. Some lucky people, the exceptions, can read something once and it will “go in”, but more will have to go through the course over and over again for it to sink it. We are all different, and this is the main point with revising – what works for one person will not work for another.

With all this in mind, there are some tips below. Remember, some will work for you, some won’t.

• Find a good place to work. Some of you will like quiet, others will like some noise. We all work best in certain places. Some students may like to work in a library, others in their room, others in a coffee shop. Find a place that works well for you and stick to it.

• What time works best for you? Some people work better early in the morning, others in the afternoon, others late at night. Again, stick to what works for you. If you are a night owl, it’s pointless to try and force yourself to get up early and study – it just won’t work as well. Use your strengths and find the best time to suit you.

• Avoid distractions. There are so many distractions today: mobile phones, television, emails and so on. It can make it hard to study. If you are reading this now but also looking at your social media feed on your phone, for example, it’s doubtful all you are reading will go in. So avoid such distractions if you can. Turn off your phone. Turn off your emails. If you find it hard to do this, give yourself a time limit, “I will revise for one hour, then spend five minutes looking at my phone.”

• With the above point also in mind, some students find it hard to sit down and study for long periods. Others prefer it. Again, you should do what suits you best. If you do find it hard to sit for long periods, give yourself a reward. One student I worked with played volleyball at national level. He found it very hard to sit down for long periods and study. Consequently he was doing hardly any revision. We came up with a plan. He would revise for 50 minutes, then go outside and play with a ball or go for a jog for ten minutes. Then he would revise for 50 minutes again and so on. This worked well for him. You may find a similar reward works for you, looking at your phone, going for a walk, making a cup of tea, watching TV, phoning a friend and so on. Decide on your time limit and give yourself a reward.

• Aim to study for no more than two and a half hours without taking a break. You are probably not revising as well as you would if you carry on revising after that time.

• Making and reading notes and using flashcards can all work well for some students. Others can make recordings of their notes and listen back to them when they are going for a walk or even when they are sleeping at night – Mind maps and memory palaces can also be useful when revising. Again, find a method that works well for you and stick to it.

• If you are reading something and it isn’t sinking in or you don’t understand it. Try a few of the following techniques…
o Read it out loud. When you do this, sometimes it seems to make more sense.
o Try and explain it to someone else – You may find that you know far more than you think you do when you explain it to another person.
o Read it in another way. There are a lot of resources online today, so if you don’t understand your notes or textbook, look online and find another explanation.

• Making a revision timetable for when you intend to revise your subject is also useful. You may be revising for more than one subject, so work out when you are going to study and make a plan for each subject.

• Practice exam papers and old TMAs under “exam conditions.”

• Try to take off a day a week. You decide which day. Take some time off from all that studying.

• Try to start revising as soon as you can. The earlier you start to revise, the more revision you will do.

Remember, you have revised before. You know what has worked well for you and what didn’t. So if you have a good way of revising, stick to it. But if your way hasn’t worked so well, why not try another option from those listed above? There is also of course a lot of advice out there online and in books. The best way to revise is the way that works for YOU! So find your best method and stick to it.

Finally, though success in them is all about your hard work and revision, I am still going to wish you this – Good luck with your exams!

2018 marks the one hundredth anniversary of one of the most well recognised military units in the world, the Royal Air Force (RAF), which was formed on 1 April 1918 in response to the pressures of the First World War by the amalgamation of the Royal Flying Corps and the Royal Naval Air Service.

At the start of the First World War, the air borne troops consisted of an amalgamation of the Royal Navy’s aircraft, airship, balloon, and man-carrying kite companies and the Royal Flying Corps planes. They were formed into squadrons for the first time, in July 1914.

It wasn’t until, worn down by the continual barrage of the more advanced German flying squadron, that the British military planners created the RAF in order to carry out more strategic bombing campaigns against Germany. So, on April 1, 1918, the RAF was formed along with the Women’s Royal Air Force. On that same day, Bristol F.2B fighters from the 22nd Squadron carried out the first official mission as members of the RAF. So effective was the newly formed RAF, that by November 1918 consisted of almost 300,000 officers and airmen, and more than 22,000 aircraft.

During the period of peace between the First and Second World Wars’ the RAF’s troops was cut to just 2000 aircraft, so when Adolf Hitler had developed the Luftwaffe–with the specific aim of destroying all the ports along the British coast, his troops severally outnumbered.

The Battle of Britain, one of the most famous military engagements of the Second World War, was fought against Germany in the skies across the nation. The RAF was hugely outnumbered, yet through a combination of new radar technology, new and more manoeuvrable aircraft and exceptional bravery, it successfully resisted the intense German air invasion. For every British plane shot down, the Luftwaffe lost two. In May 1941 the Battle of Britain was declared a British victory; a feat which led Prime Minister Winston Churchill to say of the RAF pilots, “Never in the field of human conflict was so much owed by so many to so few.”

By the war’s end in 1945, nearly one million people worked within the RAF. Once peacetime arrived, this number was reduced to about 150,000 men and women. It hasn’t just been during the two World Wars that the RAF has proved valuable to the safety of the UK, however. It has provided protection during the 1948 Arab-Israeli War, the Cold War, the Falkland Conflict, the Gulf War and beyond. By using modern technology, the RAF has developed and changed to stay relevant to the world in which it operates- and will continue to do so for years to come.

To help celebrate the anniversary, and to teach us more about their history, the RAF have put together a schools project. If you’d like to get involved you can find out about all the events and information here: https://www.raf100schools.org.uk/ There are also many events happening up and down the UK to commemorate the RAF’s 100th year. You can find out more here: https://www.raf.mod.uk/raf100/

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