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 AAN aims to sustain and stimulate each student's curiosity, interest and enjoyment in English whilst developing a rigorous and supportive programme which will prepare them for GCSE's 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 who provide mixed ability teaching to ensure that the most able or weakest of students are stretched. These sets are reviewed regularly throughout the year and at KS4.
Key Stage 3
English lessons build on the skills already established at Key Stage 2 and begin to develop the knowledge, skills and techniques they will require for GCSE. 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:
- Dystopian Unit
- Gothic Unit
- Shakespeare Text
- Writing Project (creative)
- Author Study
In Year 8, 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:
- Poetry Unit - War
- Creative Writing - A Woman in Black
- Much Ado About Nothing - William Shakespeare
- An Inspector Calls / Sparkleshark
- Writing Unit
In Years 9, 10 and 11 students start to commence the study of English Language and English literature GCSE's. Initially Year 9 is used as a foundation year prior to commencing the full GCSE in Year 10. The three components which make up the GCSE are:
- Explorations in creative reading and writing
- Writers viewpoints and perspectives
- The non exam assessment component of Spoken Language
The components of English Literature One are:-
- Nineteeth Century Novel
- Modern Prose or Drama
- Poetry Anthology
- Unseen Poetry
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.
All Year 9 students follow a foundation programme in preparation for GCSE. The following units are studied
- Conflict Poetry - GCSE Anthology
- Unseen Poetry
- Play - Blood Brothers
- English Language - reading and literacy skills
Year 10 and 11
Students will follow a Key Stage 4 pathway in preparation for the following four exams. This will provide them with two GCSE's at the end of Year 11 in English Language and English Literature. 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 counts for 100% of the final grade
- The spoken Language element is a non-examination which has 0% weighting at GCSE level
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
Section B - Writing to present a viewpoint
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)
How it is assessed - written exam - 1 hour 45 minutes
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)
Preparing for the New English GCSE specification
The new English GCSE's (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, to improve overall GCSE results, a high reading age is required (15+).
It is essential that reading is encouraged at home: as well as ensuring that students will be able to understand what is being asked of them in an exam, it will improve their verbal abilities, focus and concentration as well as giving cultural and historical awareness - all essential elements for the new English GCSE's.
In the English and Drama Faculty, there is a strong focus on reading with weekly and fortnightly library lessons being built in across the year groups, in addition weekly reading homework is set which enables students to read a wide range and diversity 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 pupils to develop into better readers.
Encouraging the enjoyment of such a diverse subject as English is a priority in the faculty of English, Media and Drama and we know that students achieve to the highest ability 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
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.
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 from the relevant teacher at the appropriate time
SAM learning and GCSE Pod are excellent programmes for revising English