The English Department comprises a highly qualified and dedicated team of teachers whose breadth of experience and commitment to teaching and learning has enabled the Department to achieve outstanding success with all year groups and to be very well respected within the college and beyond. We feel immensely proud of the achievements of all of our students. Our results are consistently amongst the highest in the country and are consistently above the average results of similar centres.
‘Effort to Excellence’
At the heart of the Department’s commitment to excellence is the aim to create a positive working culture that will enrich students’ lives. We strive to impress upon students that effort is the most praiseworthy trait to possess and it is the amount of effort that we put into work that determines our success and enables us to be proud of our achievements. We must also create a culture where students understand the inherent worth of academic study and understand how important it is to society and how relevant our subject is to their current lives and professional futures. English should be loved because it is both enjoyable and considered to be fundamentally important to the lives of young people and the successful functioning of society. We are committed to developing a culture of motivated-effort-making, risk taking, peer support and the pursuit of academic excellence.
Key Stage 3
Students are taught in mixed ability groups in Years 7 and 8 and set, according to ability, in Year 9. Five units of work are delivered across six terms, the purpose of which is to engender a love of literature and to progress students’ writing skills. The work of the English Department is supported by a wide range of extra-curricular activities and challenges organised by Mrs Daniel, our college librarian. The importance of reading for pleasure in terms of the impact it has on the whole curriculum lies at the heart of all we do. The excellent foundations established at Key Stage 3 helps to explain the outstanding results all our students achieve at GCSE.
Students study a variety of literary and non-fiction texts, all of which contribute to our rigorous academic programme. Poetry by Heart is an important feature of our KS3 curriculum. Each year, students learn a poem from the Literary Canon to recite to their class. This is representative of the vision of the English department which is to unashamedly promote the academic merits of the subject, to engender a love for literature and to support students’ wider literary reading to give them a strong platform for analytical independence, creativity and originality.
Student work is assessed in two ways:
- DMPF (distinction, merit, pass, fail) is used to assess work that requires an effort mark. Independent projects, research projects and work that requires particular presentation skills are assessed based on student effort. This assessment style stems from the Department’s ‘Effort to Excellence’ commitment, which acknowledges that success should be measured by motivation and effort, not just academic outcomes.
- Traditional National Curriculum Levels are used to assess work from Levels 1 to 8, where a level 7 is roughly equivalent to C grade work at GCSE. The department use detailed ‘in-house’ mark schemes to assess Reading and Writing skills and to ensure consistency in marking.
Students are taught across six classes in groups set by academic ability. Groups are determined through a combination of ability demonstrated throughout Key Stage 3 assessment and end of year exams, CAT scores and teacher assessment. All students starting Year 10 from September 2015 onwards will study the new AQA English Language and AQA English Literature syllabi. Students are actively encouraged to develop their autonomy and independence at GCSE. Though the teachers are experts, students should conduct wider reading and critical reading and will grow to be confident in their own readings as well as exploring the ideas of others.
English Language: GCSE English Language allows students to demonstrate their ability to use English in real life contexts and uses an investigative and analytical approach to language topics drawing on Literary Fiction, Literary Non-Fiction and Non-Fiction texts, written from the 18th century to the present day.
English Literature: GCSE English Literature requires candidates to explore texts from a literary, personal and historical perspective and offers an experience of Literature today, Literature globally and The Literary Heritage. All students will study one Shakespeare text and a variety of Prose, Poetry and Drama texts from the Heritage and Contemporary Cannons.
What will I learn?
Students study a range of fiction and non-fiction texts including Shakespeare and poetry. Students can make links across time, drawing out how important themes have been approached by writers in different contexts. The texts cover a range of genres and styles and study focuses on the key aspects of literary analysis and criticism: language, form, structure, character, setting, context and theme.
How will I be assessed?
Students beginning Year 10 from September 2015 onwards will be wholly assessed through exams sat at the end of Year 11. There are two examinations in English Language and two examinations in English Literature. Throughout the two year course, students’ progress will be closely monitored, primarily through formal assessment: mock examinations will be sat at the end of study for each unit of work.
At A-level the English Department is committed to promoting greater independence and autonomy in students’ approach to the subject. Teaching styles at A-level will vary greatly: student activity, lectures, seminar discussions and student led lessons are amongst the range to be expected in the English classroom.
Studying an A-level in English is a serious undertaking. Staff are passionate about challenging students to look at literature critically and to develop original and perceptive readings of their own: students should not expect to rely upon their teacher’s ideas, but rather have the confidence to rely upon their own thought processes, research and reasoning. It is the teacher’s job to guide students through this approach and to engender the passion required for students to be motivated in adopting it. The subject content for both A-level Literature and A-Level Literature and Language are outlined below.
For students starting Year 12 in September 2015, the department will be teaching the new rigorous AQA specifications, and students will be taking the AS exam option at the end of year 12. Although this does not count towards the final A-level grade, it does provide a stand-alone qualification that carries UCAS points. The subject content for the AS qualification is half of the A2 course content.
AQA Literature and Language
A-Level from September 2015
80% of this A-level is exam based, with a mixture of open and closed book conditions. The remaining 20% is made up of an investigative piece of coursework. The course is taught over the full two years and all components are taken/submitted at the end of the two year teaching period. There is an emphasis on both literary and non-literary texts, as well as the study of spoken texts and the composition of re-creative writing.
- Exam Paper 1: Telling Stories 40% 3 hours
Section A: Remembered Places
Students study the AQA Anthology: Paris. The anthology includes a wide range of text types with a particular emphasis on non-fiction and non-literary material. In this part of the subject content, students explore speech and other genres. They study a wide range of linguistic and generic features, as well as related issues around questions of representation and viewpoint in texts taken from a range of time periods. Closed book exam.
Section B: Imagined Worlds
In this part of the subject content, students explore the imagined worlds of these texts which are characterised by unusual narratives, narrators and events. Students also consider key aspects of the texts which place them in particular contexts of production and reception. Open book exam.
Students will study one of the following four texts: Frankenstein, Dracula, The Handmaid’s Tale or The Lovely Bones
Section C: Poetic Voices
This part of the subject content is concerned with the nature and function of poetic voice in the telling of events and the presentation of people. Open book exam.
Students study poems from one of four poets within the AQA Poetic Voices Anthology:
- John Donne, Robert Browning, Carol Ann Duffy or Seamus Heaney
- Exam Paper 2: Exploring Conflict 40% 2h30m
Section A: Writing about Society
Students study one of four texts: Into the Wild, The Suspicions of Mr Whicher: or the Murder at, Hill House The Great Gatsby or The Kite Runner
In this section of the exam, students will use their base texts to produce a ‘re-creative’ piece of writing and to then write a commentary on their original piece. Open book exam.
Section B: Dramatic Encounters
Students study one of four plays: Othello, All My Sons, A Streetcar Named Desire or The Herd
In this part of the subject content, students explore the ways that conflicts are presented, the meanings that can be inferred from the language use and the contextual reasons for these conflicts. As part of their study, students analyse areas relevant to the study of drama and dramatic discourse. Open book exam.
- Non-exam Assessment: Making Connections 20%
This part of the subject content focuses on language use in different types of text. It is called ‘Making Connections’ because it requires students to make active connections between a literary text and some non-literary material. The connections must be based either on a chosen theme or on the idea that particular linguistic strategies and features may occur in the different types of material. This area of the course provides an individualised experience for students, enabling them to demonstrate their ability to initiate and sustain independent enquiry. Texts prescribed for study for the examined units may not be chosen, but further texts by the same authors or from a similar source are acceptable. This investigation amounts to roughly 3000 words of work. Coursework.
AQA Literature Specification A
A-Level from September 2015
80% of this A-level is exam based, with a mixture of open and closed book conditions. The remaining 20% is made up of an investigative piece of coursework. The course is taught over the full two years and all components are taken/submitted at the end of the two year teaching period. The emphasis is on literary texts across the three genres of poetry, prose and drama. The course aims to understand texts in context and change in literature over time.
All exam questions are equally weighted.
- Exam Paper 1: Love through the ages 40% 3 hours
Study of three texts: one poetry and one prose text, of which one must be written pre-1900, and one Shakespeare play. Exam will include two unseen poems.
Section A: Shakespeare: One passage-based question with linked essay (closed book)
Section B: Unseen poetry: Compulsory essay question on two unseen poems (closed book)
Section C: Comparing texts: One essay question linking two texts (studied prose and poetry)(open book)
- Exam Paper 2: Texts in shared contexts 40% 2h30m
Students will study either:
Option 2A: WW1 and its aftermath.
Option 2B: Modern times: Literature from 1945 to the present day
Study of three texts: one prose, one poetry, and one drama, of which one must be written post-2000. Exam will include an unseen extract
Section A: Set texts. One essay question on set text
Section B: Contextual linking
- One compulsory question on an unseen extract
- One essay question linking two texts
- Independent Critical Study: texts across time 20%
Comparative critical study of two texts, at least one of which must have been written pre-1900. One extended essay (2500 words) and a bibliography. Texts chosen for this study cannot be taught in other parts of the course.