EastEnders E20

Aspirations Part 1

Short clip of the story

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EastEnders E20 thematic content for teachers - Aspirations Part 1

Use specially cut thematic clips from the third series of EastEnders E20 to enable students to use the situations of fictional characters Ava, Donnie and Faith to learn about: Aspirations, Bullying, Sex and Relationships and Stereotypes.

Use the clips to consider ways that the past can affect future prospects and aspirations. Students can explore barriers to aspirations and the expectations of others. They could also identify ways of overcoming barriers and increasing self-confidence.

Please also see EastEnders E20 - Aspirations Part 2 - Literacy for more aspiration content.

Lesson objectives

By the end of the lesson, ALL students will learn: the meaning of aspirations, some of the factors that limit them and some ways to overcome these factors.

By the end of the lesson, MOST students should learn: why it is important to have high aspirations; what can limit aspirations; and some ways to overcome these factors and increase self confidence.

By the end of the lesson, SOME students could learn: the importance of high aspirations and how these can be affected by people in our lives; to identify the factors that can limit aspirations and ways to overcome them; and some strategies to increase self confidence in order to plan positively for the future.

Activities for the lesson

Equipment required: Internet connection, Computer, Projector / Whiteboard, Printed handouts

What are aspirations and what affects them?

Whole class

Watch the video then as a class discuss the meaning of the word 'aspirations'.

- Why it is important to have high aspirations?

- Why should people aim to be 'the best they can be'?

You could also show Donnie's monologue 'High hopes' which provides an insight into what Donnie wants from life. Provide students with the transcript of this monologue:



Encourage students to discuss what they have learnt about the aspirations of Ava, Donnie and Faith. Explore questions such as:

  • - How do you think each of them sees their future? Are they aiming high or low?
  • - What do people think of them? What do they think of each other? What do they think of themselves?
  • - To what extent are their views of themselves based on what others think of them? For example, how could Richard's view of each of them affect they way they see themselves?
  • - Do you think that Janine's and Zainab's opinions could affect them?
  • - How do Faith's past experiences affect her?
  • - Why is Donnie in particular so negative about his aspirations and why is he like this?


Whole class

Gather feedback from the group discussions and discuss the factors that the students think have affected Ava, Donnie and Faith's aspirations.

Activity 2

Whole class

Building on the last discussion, identify some of the factors that could get in the way of people having high aspirations e.g:

  • - pre-conceived ideas
  • - stereotypes
  • - families
  • - peer groups
  • - media images
  • - lack of self-confidence and self-esteem
  • - poor skills
  • - lack of qualifications



Students work in pairs to complete Handout 2 - Factors that can limit aspirations. They join with one or two other pairs to compare the results of their discussion and share ideas.

Activity 3

Whole class

Gather views from the class on how some of the limiting factors could be overcome. Use Handout 2 - Factors that can limit aspirations as a checklist / starting point.



Students identify the actions on Handout 2 - Factors that can limit aspirations that might be appropriate for each of the EastEnders E20 characters. They select one and explore how it could be put into action. They also consider which would be most effective in supporting the aspirations of people in their class / school.


Whole class

Each group gives feedback to the class about their discussions. The class then decides on actions that could be taken to support their own and others' aspirations. If possible, work with students to create an individual action plan on how they'll carry out their suggestions in the future.

Activity 4


In small groups, students make a list of things that take practice to learn successfully. They are bound to make mistakes at first but will need to try again, gradually developing confidence (e.g. learning to walk as a baby, riding a bike or playing a musical instrument). They show their list to the rest of the class.


Whole class

Discuss the lists and how they apply to academic skills as well as social ones. For example, trying to learn a new language, taking part in a debate or even developing skills in the workplace.

Discuss with students that everyone has conversations with themselves in their heads. Sometimes we encourage ourselves - saying things like 'I can do it' or 'I'm doing well'. At other times we can be really negative and discouraging saying things like 'I am so stupid' or 'I can't get anything right'.

As a class list some of the positive things people might say to themselves:

  • - 'I am good enough.'
  • - 'If I want to, I can.'
  • - 'It doesn't matter if I make a mistake.'
  • - 'If I try hard, I'll get there.'

and some negative ones:

  • - 'I can't do this'
  • - 'I'm not good enough'
  • - 'Everyone else is better than me'
  • - 'I can't cope if I fail'



Students complete Handout 4 - Positive self-talk. They think about themselves as well as the EastEnders E20 characters.

Activity 5

Whole class

With the whole class, review the last exercise and gather examples of situations with positive and negative self-talk. Ask students to identify some more situations where people may be scared of trying something new e.g. singing in public, acting out a scenario in class, speaking in assembly, learning to play the guitar. Take one of the situations and discuss 'what's the worst that could happen?'.



Students discuss their example situations and complete Handout 5 - What's the worst that could happen?

Starting with the examples from the E20 characters first and then using their own experiences.


Whole class

Discuss the results of the group activity. As a class, go back to examples of negative self-talk and discuss how to replace the negativity with positive statements.

Talk about the importance of taking risks and being prepared to make mistakes.

Provide time for students to reflect individually on situations where positive self-talk could help. Encourage them to use positive self-talk in the future.

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Key skills and learning skills

  • Communication
  • Application of number
  • ICT
  • Problem solving
  • Working with others
  • Improving own performance
  • Critical thinking
  • Creative thinking
  • Exploring meaning
  • Reflection
  • Research skills
  • Presentation skills

AFL strategies

  • Sharing learning objectives
  • Use of questioning
  • Effective feedback
  • Modelling
  • Pupil self assessment
  • Peer assessment
  • Ongoing assessment
  • Adjusting teaching/reviewing
  • Plenary

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