English is one of three core subjects and is therefore considered to be “academically and culturally essential” in a student’s learning. The English Faculty at Attleborough Academy aims to sustain and stimulate each student’s curiosity, interest and enjoyment in English whilst developing a rigorous and supportive programme which will prepare pupils for GCSEs and for future life. Students are enabled and encouraged to develop confident communication skills and a wide, informed appreciation of literature both past and present.
English is taught in mixed ability sets in KS3 by a group of experienced subject specialists. These teachers provide differentiated, mixed ability teaching to ensure that all students, from the weakest to the most-able, are supported, stretched and challenged. These sets are reviewed regularly throughout each year. At KS4, setting by ability will be more evident.
Key Stage 3
Teachers have developed relationships with feeder schools so that our English lessons build on the skills already established at Key Stage 2. This knowledge is developed throughout KS3 as GCSE skills and techniques are taught. However, we also feel it is essential to use this time to develop a love of learning for English and our schemes of work have been developed with this in mind. To monitor progress, students are assessed at least every half term through a variety of tasks and an end of unit exam.
Students are introduced to the three key areas of English; Reading, Writing and Spoken Language. Students begin to develop ‘reading for understanding’ skills as well as the skill of writing in different forms. Opportunities to develop spoken skills are also built into each of the following units:
- Villains & Heroes
- Introduction to Shakespeare
- Writing Project – Short Stories
- Climate Change – Non-Fiction Reading & Writing
Years 8 and 9
In Years 8 and 9, students continue to build on the three key areas of reading, writing and speaking and listening, beginning to make more definite links in terms of theme and context.
The Year 8 units of work are:
- Creative Writing – The Woman in Black
- Poetry from Other Cultures
- An Inspector Calls
- Media – How English is presented in a multi-modal world
- Much Ado About Nothing
- Writing to Argue
The Year 9 units of work are:
- Reading Skills (Fiction)
- War Poetry
- Creative Writing
- Reading Skills (Non-Fiction)
- Non-Fiction Writing
- Blood Brothers
Key Stage 4
In Years 10 and 11 students commence the study of English Language and English literature GCSEs. The three components which make up the English Language and Literature GCSEs are:
Explorations in Creative Writing and Reading
Writers’ Viewpoints and Perspectives
Nineteeth Century Novel
Modern Prose or Drama
The spoken Language element is a non-examination which has 0% weighting at GCSE level.
We follow the AQA English Language (8700) and AQA English Literature (8702) specification. These papers are not tiered. However, as a department, we will also explore other alternatives for any students who we feel would not be able to access a GCSE in English.
All assessments are taken at the end of the course in Year 11 and, as this is a linear qualification, students must complete all exams in May/June in a single year.
The qualifications are made up as follows:
Paper 1 – Explorations in Creative Writing and Reading
Paper 2 – Writers Viewpoints and Perspectives
Non Examination Assessment : Spoken Language
Assessment: The course is assessed through a combination of two external examinations (Paper 1 and Paper 2) which count for 100% of the final grade
Paper 1 – Explorations in Creative Writing and Reading
Section A – Reading – one literature fiction text – 40 marks (25%)
Section B – Writing – descriptive or narrative writing – 40 marks (25%)
How it is assessed – written exam 1 hour 45 minutes – 80 marks (50% of GCSE)
Paper 2 – Writers’ Viewpoints and Perspectives
Section A – Reading – one non-fiction text and one literary non-fiction text – 40 marks (25%)
Section B – Writing to present a viewpoint – 40 marks (25%)
How it is assessed – written exam: 1 hour 45 minutes – 80 marks (50%of GCSE)
Paper 1 – Shakespeare (Macbeth) and the 19th century novel (Jekyll and Hyde/Christmas Carol)
How it is assessed – written exam – 1 hour 45 minutes – 64 marks – (40% of GCSE)
Paper 2 – Modern texts (Blood Brothers) and Poetry (Conflict Poetry) and Unseen poetry
How it is assessed – written exam – 2 hours 15 minutes – 96 marks (60% of GCSE)
In addition, the Spoken Language element is a non-examination which has 0% weighting at GCSE level
How it is assessed – a formal presentation which will be filmed for the AQA examination board.
How parents can help prepare their child for the English Language and English Literature GCSE specifications
The new English GCSEs (from September 2015) are more demanding than in previous years – they are less predictable in content and, as they are all externally assessed, there are no assessments that are completed in school. The only exam is at the end of Year 11. This means that a high reading age is required (15+).
It is essential that reading is encouraged at home. Developing a wide vocabulary in terms of understanding and usage will help with all English exams. Reading and discussion at home will also ensure that students are be able to understand what is being asked of them in an exam, improve their verbal abilities, focus and concentration as well as giving cultural and historical awareness – all essential elements for the new English GCSEs.
In the English Faculty, there is a strong focus on reading in lessons, with fortnightly library lessons being built in across the year group. In addition, weekly reading homework is set which enables students to read a wide range of books. Through such initiatives English teachers are able to gain a better understanding of the reading patterns of their students and are able to discuss, guide and encourage the students to develop into better readers.
Encouraging the enjoyment of such a diverse subject as English is a priority in the English Faculty and we know that students achieve most in our subject when they are engaged. This philosophy permeates our schemes of learning but it is also reflected in the provision of extra-curricular activities to enrich the experience of students.
Such activities include –
- A creative writing club for all students
- A public speaking club
- A book club for KS3
- A book group for KS5 and staff
- Story, poetry and play writing competitions
- Visits to theatre productions
- Trips to cinemas and other places of cultural interest to stimulate creative ideas and writing
- Trips to lectures and workshops on texts studied
- Schemes of work will also include as much external cultural influence as possible, to ensure that students see the relevance of English in society today.
A full range of homework tasks will be set. This could include reading, research, drafting essays, collaborative projects and preparation for oral assessments.
Books, Equipment, Materials and Resources Recommended/Needed:
All students are encouraged to read a wide variety of fiction and non-fiction. Individual reading books will be required for English lessons.
In Years 11, 12 and 13, students may wish to purchase their own copies of texts set for examination and study guides. Full details will be provided at the appropriate time by individual teachers.
Opportunities For Study Beyond Key Stage 4
GCSE English Language and English Literature provide excellent preparation for the study of English Literature, English Language and Literature, Creative Writing, Media and Drama and Theatre studies at AS and A2 Level. The analytical skills developed during these courses would also prove useful for courses that require critical, objective consideration such as History, Psychology and Law.
Career Opportunities Supported By This Subject
Employers and colleges for FE and HE generally require a level 4 in the new grading structure (or equivalent in the new grading structure) to prove that candidates have a sound level of competence in literacy and oracy.
A good pass in English Language and English Literature demonstrates that the student has acquired a range of communication skills that are essential in a wide variety of careers.
How parents can help
Parents can discuss topics with students (the act of explaining something out loud can help clarify thoughts). There will always be English homework to revise understanding of key ideas and additional reading. Developing a range of vocabulary through extended reading is also essential. Revision guides can also be purchased and a list will be given by the relevant teacher at the appropriate time.
Taking children to the theatre, stand up poetry, poetry readings, developing understanding of historical, social or political elements will all enable your child to make the best progress possible in this subject.
GCSE Pod is an excellent programme for revising English.