Good English has been recognised as being absolutely essential if students wish to reach their potential in all other subject areas. Indeed, good English allows students to access, succeed and excel in life and career development. The new GCSE specification in both English Language and English Literature is designed specifically to stretch all students; it is a two year course that culminates in four exams at the end of the course. Coursework and controlled assessment no longer detail in the new specification requirements – the award is 100% examination. Therefore, students have to be prepared and with this in mind all students are taught the required skills from Year 7 on.
Students follow three set modules over the three terms, that cover a range of literary texts from the 19th, 20th and 21st century along with close language analysis of fiction and nonfiction texts. There are enrichment activities designed specifically to take English out of the classroom and into everyday life. These range from a ‘Shakespeare Day’ following the ‘Midsummer Night’s Dream’ unit of work to visits to the theatre or cinema wherever possible.
In Year 8 the academic year is divided into three units much the same as it is in Year 7. Once again literary fiction is selected from the 19th, 20th and 21st centuries which is complemented with nonfiction texts from the same period. There is an increased focus on language analysis and structure with enjoyment and careful assessment at the heart of the units of work. Once again creativity and enrichment figure very highly. There is an excellent ‘Gothic Horror Day’ that follows the ‘Gothic’ unit of work that also includes a visit to a local notoriously haunted castle.
In Year 9 the focus is most certainly on GCSE preparation. The Autumn and Spring terms see students following two modules that focus on literary fiction from the 19th, 20th and 21st centuries which is again complemented with nonfiction texts from the same period. There are also enrichment activities and a ‘Dickens Day’ that celebrates the works of one of Britain’s most famous authors. However, after the Easter holidays students are placed into their Year 10 sets along with their Year 10 teachers and work commences on their GCSE course requirements. This begins with their selected Shakespeare text and also sees an increased focus on assessment.
Students begin by working on the English Literature Poetry requirements of Paper 2. This is a selection of 15 poems from both heritage and present taken from the AQA Anthology and takes into account the Unseen Poem question as well. After Christmas students will begin work on their modern text and are offered a choice. Language skills are also taught through literature and there is also the clever integration of nonfiction texts into the units. The Summer term follows the chosen 19 century text, again with the development of English Language skills. Wherever possible there are theatre/enrichment trips to support chosen texts and how they come to life on the stage/screen.
In Year 11 the focus is very much on revision and examination preparation. There is a revisit of the three major texts – 19 century, Shakespeare and the modern text along with the poetry module. There is also a great deal of time set aside for examination preparation and technique. The enrichment days in this year focus around ‘Super Learning Days’ where students are taken off timetable and focus entirely on examination preparation and technique.