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English - Subject Guide

Introduction

The English Department is a large and exciting department offering a core curiculum subject. There are compulsory lessons at Key Stage 3 and GCSE, and a thriving A Level course.

Aims

In English lessons, the core skills of speaking and listening, reading and writing are developed. We aim to produce students who are confident at expressing an opinion through speaking and writing, have ideas about the world around them and the texts they read, and can appreciate how language is used. We aim to give them the practical skills that will be essential for the world of work, as well as inspiring a love of the stories and ideas around them.

We are often asked how parents can help their children make better progress in English. Firstly, they can encourage their children to read, borrowing books from the school or local libraries. Wide and varied reading of different texts is vital if pupils are to develop their ideas, their imaginations and good styles of writing and speaking.

Key Stage 3

At Key Stage 3, students are encouraged to build on the substantial skills they bring with them from Year 6. Creative and practical writing, the acquisition of library skills, speaking to the class, the study of language, and the enjoyment of good books are at the core of this key stage. Students will read a selection of poetry, plays, non-fiction writing, and novels in each year group; work will arise from the study of these texts.

In Year 7, students study a selection of school-themed texts, the novels Boy Overboard and Trash, Cloud Busting, a poem-novel, as well as classic poems. They will complete a non-fiction campaign project and follow a Bookworm scheme, encouraging wider personal reading.

In Year 8, students study some Thomas Hardy short stories, the novels Boy in the Striped Pyjamas, and either Holes or Girl Underground, a selection of World War 1 poetry and the Shakespeare play, Twelfth Night. They will also look in depth at non-fiction texts and practise their transactional writing skills.

In Year 9, students begin the year with Chinese Cinderella, or The Edge and Stone Cold. They also follow a non-fiction reading scheme, developing ideas from Year 8. The Shakespeare text is Romeo and Juliet. They read a prose text, from either Roald Dahl’s Tales of the Unexpected, or Fat Boy Swim, or Bloodline. They will also study a further play, Coram Boy, Dracula or Starseeker, and a selection of pre-1914 poetry.

Key Stage 4

At Key Stage 4 we study the Edexcel GCSEs (9-1) in Language and Literature. All students follow this course and they are externally examined in four separate exams at the end of Year 11. GCSE English Language and GCSE English Literature are two separate GCSE qualifications.

English Language

Scheme of assessment: 100% Examination (untiered). The assessment consists of two externally examined papers plus a separate endorsement of Spoken Language, which is internally assessed. The qualification will be graded and certified on a nine grade scale from 9 – 1, where 9 is the highest grade.

  • Paper 1 (40%) Fiction and imaginative writing
    • Section A: Reading (15%) - Unseen 19th century fiction – extract and questions
    • Section B: Writing (25%) - Creative writing linked to the theme in Section A
  • Paper 2 (60%) Non-fiction and transactional writing
    • Section A: Reading (35%) - Unseen 20th and 21st century non-fiction and literary non-fiction – two extracts and questions
    • Section B: Writing (25%) - Transactional writing linked to the theme of Section A

Specification: Edexcel English Language

English Literature

Scheme of assessment: 100% Examination (untiered). The assessment consists of two externally examined papers. It is a linear qualification so all examination papers are taken in the same summer series at the end of the course in Year 11. The qualification will be graded and certified on a nine grade scale from 9 – 1, where 9 is the highest grade.

  • Paper 1: (50%) Shakespeare and post-1914 literature. Exams are ‘closed book’ – copies of the texts are not allowed in the exam
    • Section A: Shakespeare (25%) - We study Macbeth or Romeo and Juliet or Much Ado About Nothing or The Merchant of Venice
    • Section B: Post 1914 British drama (25%) - We study An Inspector Calls or Hobson’s Choice or Journey’s End
  • Paper 2: (50%) 19th century novel and poetry since 1789. Exams are ‘closed book’ – copies of the texts are not allowed in the exam
    • Section A: 19th century novel (25%) - We study Silas Marner or Dr Jekyll and Mr Hyde
    • Section B: Poetry (25%) - Poetry Anthology: we study Conflict (collection B). Unseen poetry: we study a wide range of poetry as in the exam there are two unseen poems for students to compare

Specification: Edexcel English Literature

Key Stage 5

At Key Stage 5, we follow the Edexcel A-Level Literature course, over two years. It is examined externally at the end of Year 13. There is a coursework element, which is 20% of the final exam. Most of our A-Level teaching can be accommodated in our English room which is located in the Sixth Form block.

English Literature is a popular and challenging subject. It seeks to develop effective communication skills, independent thinking and an analytical approach and it encourages a sensitive and humane outlook.

English Literature students are required to:

  • read texts in a variety of ways and respond critically and creatively
  • vary strategies for reading, including for detail, overview and gist, depending on the texts being studied and purposes for reading them
  • explore comparisons and contrasts between texts, establishing links and relationships
  • identify and consider how attitudes and values are expressed in texts
  • draw on their understanding of different interpretations when responding to and evaluating texts
  • fluently, accurately and effectively communicate their knowledge, understanding and judgement of texts 
  • use literary critical concepts and terminology with understanding and discrimination
  • make accurate reference to quotations from texts and sources.

Unit 1: Drama

30% of the total qualification

Students study: Othello by William Shakespeare (Y13) and The Duchess of Malfi by John Webster (Y12) and an anthology of critical essays related to tragedy (Y13)

Unit 2: Prose

20% of the total qualification

Students study: Hard Times by Charles Dickens (Y12) and Atonement by Ian McEwan (Y12)

Unit 3: Poetry

30% of the total qualification

Students study: Poems of the Decade: An Anthology of the Forward Books of Poetry 2002 – 2011 (Y12); a selection of unseen poems (Y13) and The Wife of Bath’s Prologue and Tale by Geoffrey Chaucer (Y13)

Unit 4: Coursework

20% of the total qualification (Non Examined Assessment)

Students study a text with their teacher based on the theme of ‘outsiders’ as well as a text of their own choice from a reading list of ‘outsider’ texts. Students then independently produce one extended comparative essay referring to the two texts. (Y13)

Specification

Edexcel A-Level English Literature

Resources

The department is based on the Upper School site (Kingsbury Drive) with a suite of specialist rooms. Each room is resourced with a digital projector, dictionaries and thesauruses, and of course, lots of books. Students study a range of texts every year and will always have their own copy of the book they are studying. In addition, we encourage use of the libraries situated on each site, and foster independent reading and research skills.  Every teacher in the department is an English specialist.

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