Starters for An A-level Sociology Non-Participant Observation Lesson

Non-Participant Observation involves the researcher observing respondents, but keeping their distance, and not engaging with those respondents.

As with many of the ‘minor’ research methods in A-level sociology, this one can be a bit of a struggle to make interesting, but here are three starter activities to get your students in the mood for making observations…

Starter 1: How many passes does the team in white make?

I won’t give too much away, but it does show one of the limitations of doing narrowly focused structured observations where you are only looking for one thing!

Starter 2: Whodunnit?

Again, I don’t want to give too much away, but this demonstrates how difficult observation can be, in terms of the amount of things you might miss if you’re not paying close attention!

Starter 3: Street Life:

This is a bit of an old video, but it introduces students to some of the strengths and limitations problems of qualitative, unstructured observations.

You might like to think about showing this in contrast to a video of street life in a very underdeveloped country, and comparing the differences.

How to use these starters

I use these three starters one after the other before I get students to go out and perform their own structured and unstructured observations of street-life in the local high street.

The first two are really just a bit of fun, but they do drive home the fact that you might miss a lot if you are just focusing on a few factors when doing structured observations.

If you like this sort of thing and want to see how these starters blend into the rest of my A-level sociology lesson on non-participant observation you might like to subscribe to my A-level sociology teacher resources.

Non Participant Observation material is scheduled for release in October 2020.

A-Level Sociology Teaching Resources

NB – you get All of these starters and more as part of my A-level sociology teaching resources, available as a monthly subscription, for only £9.99 a month! The subscription includes lesson plans and modifiable student hand-outs and PPTs. Activities such as these starters are embedded into the student learning materials.

I hope you find these resources useful, and happy teaching,

Karl, September 2020.

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A-Level Sociology Official Statistics Starter (Answers)

One of the supposed advantages of official statistics is that they are quick and easy to use to find out basic information.

To test this out, I use the following as a starter for my ‘official statistics’ lesson with my A-level sociology students:

I print the above off as a one paged hand-out and give students 10 minutes to find out the approximate answers to each of the questions.

If some students manage to find all of them in less than 10 minutes, they can reflect on the final question about validity. I wouldn’t expect all students to get to this, but all of them can benefit from it during class discussion after the task.

Official statistics stater: answers

Below are the answers to the questions (put here because of the need to keep updating them!)

How many people are there in the UK?

66, 800 000 estimated in 2020

Source: Office for National Statistics Population Estimates.


How many households are there in the UK?

27.8 million in 2019

Source: ONS Families and Households in the UK 2019.


How many marriages were there last year in the UK?


240 000 in 2017, latest figures available

Source: ONS Marriages in England and Wales

How many cases of Domestic Violence were there in England and Wales last year?

In the year ending March 2019, an estimated 2.4 million adults aged 16 to 74 years experienced domestic abuse in the last year (1.6 million women and 786,000 men).

Source: Domestic Abuse in England and Wales, November 2019.


What proportion of GCSE grades achieved 4 or above in 2020, how does this compare to 2019?

79% of GCSE entries in 2020 received 4 or above, up from 70% in 2019.

Source: The Guardian.

How many students sat an A level in Sociology last year?

38, 015 students sat an exam in A-level sociology in 2019.

Source: Joint Council for Qualifications (curse them for PDFing their data and making it less accessible for broader analysis).

Do any of the above sources lack validity?

It’s hard to make an arguement that the last two have poor validity – however, you can argue that these are invalid measurements of students’ ability, because of variations in difficulty of the exams and a range of other factors.

With the DV stats, there are several reasons why these cases may go under reported such as fear and shame on the part of the victims.

Marriages, there may be a few unrecorded forced marriages in the UK.

In terms of households, the validity is pretty high, as you just count the number of houses and flats, however, definitions of what counts as a household could lead to varying interepretations of the numbers.

The population stats are an interesting one – we have records of births, deaths and migration, but illegal immigration, well be it’s nature it’s difficult to measure!

The point of this starter and what comes next…

It’s kinaesthetic demonstration of the practical advantages of official statistics, and gives students a chance to think about validity for themselves.

Following the starter, we crack on with official statisics proper – considering in more depth the strengths and limitations of different types of official statistics, drawn from other parts of the A-level sociology specification.

A-level teaching resources

If you’re interested in receiving a paper copy of this, along with a shed load of other fully modifiable teaching resources, why not subscribe to my A-level sociology teaching resources, a bargain at only £9.99 month.

Unlike Pearsons or Tutor to You (however you spell it), I’m independent, all subscription money comes straight to me, rather than the resource designers getting a pittance and 90% of the money going to the corporates at the top, like with those companies.

A-Level Sociology Teaching Resources: Education Policies and Education Planning:

The Latest June 2020 additions to the Sociology Teaching Resource Subscription

I’ve just released some more extensive lesson plans, workbooks and Power Points for sale as part of my sociology teaching resources subscription package, available for only £9.99 a month!

This image has an empty alt attribute; its file name is sociology-teaching-resources-724x1024.png

This teaching resource bundle contains work books and Power Points covering eight lessons on the Perspectives on the Sociology of Education

Resources in June’s bundle include

  1. Education Policies: Historical Context, 1944 and 1965
  2. The 1988 Education Act
  3. New Labour’s Policies
  4. The Coalition and New Right policies
  5. Exploring selection and the priviatisation of education
  6. Should we abolish independent schools debate
  7. Globalisation and education
  8. Vocational education

Resources in the bundle include:

  • One workbook on Education policies, including privatisation, selection and globalisation.
  • Four Power Points covering most of the above lessons (not for riots or the corporate crime research lesson.
  • Eight lesson plans covering all of the above lessons.
  • Various supplementary hand-outs for some of the above lessons as necessary.

Education Planning Material

In addition to the above I also include all the education planning material for all 24 lessons in the education section (April, May and June’s updates for 2020). This includes:

  • A full student scheme of work with details of concepts, research studies, assessment Qs and links to blog posts
  • An overview scheme of work
  • All lesson plans

Fully modifiable resources

Every teacher likes to make resources their own by adding some things in and cutting other things out – and you can do this with both the work pack and the PowerPoints because I’m selling them in Word and PPT, rather than as PDFs, so you can modify them!

NB – I have had to remove most the pictures I use personally, for copyright reasons, but I’m sure you can find your own to fit in. It’s obvious where I’ve taken them out!

More resources to come…

I’m making resources available every month as part of this teacher resource subscription package. The schedule of release of resources is as below:

  • July – September 2020 – Families and Households Resources
  • October – December 2020 – Research Methods, including methods applied to education 
  • January – April 2021 – Global Development 
  • May – August 2021 – Crime and Deviance 
  • September – October 2021 – Theory and Methods 
  • November 2021 – January 2022 – Revision Material
  • February 2022 – Intro material. 

Please note this is a change to the original schedule of release, which I’ve changed due to the recent exam cancellations!