We feel that English is a vital subject for your child’s future, but also a highly enjoyable experience. Our aim is to begin preparing your child for the challenges of GCSE from the day they enter as Year 7s, whilst delivering a broad curriculum which introduces them to the pleasures of language and literature, reading a range of texts, and developing their own style and approach to writing.
Our outstanding team of twelve English teachers, as well as a team of dedicated support staff, are dedicated to helping every child we teach achieve their potential.
All our students are entered for both the AQA Language and Literature syllabuses at GCSE. AQA have produced exams appropriate for every year group for their Language syllabus, using the same questions and skills they will need at the end of Year 11. Our students sit these exams during each year to build their understanding of the requirements of the exam and the resilience needed to perform throughout them.
However, exam success sits alongside fostering enjoyment of our subject. Our units of work are designed to allow students to experience and appreciate all disciplines of English: reading, writing, spoken language and literature. Throughout the course we encourage personal reading and creative writing as well as debate and discussion, whilst providing opportunities for students to develop the skills of exam performance and unseen text analysis that are at the heart of the new GCSEs.
Beyond Year 11, we offer a choice of two A Levels in English: Literature, and Language and Literature combined. Both are highly regarded by all Universities and are recommended for study by the Russell Group of Universities. We also offer opportunities for students who have not reached the expected grade at GCSE to resit their Language exam, with a success rate considerably above the national average.
There is more information and resources on our English Department Website at: Englishnls.wordpress.com
2014-15 exam success:
GCSE English Language
50% of students at B grade or higher
1 in 5 students achieves an A or A*
GCSE English Literature
60% of students at B grade or higher
1 in 3 students achieves an A or A*
A Level Literature
80% of students achieve a B grade or higher – twice the national average
Your child’s journey in English:
After a baseline assessment on entry to Year 7, along with information from SATs and Primary Schools, your child will be given a target band indicating the flight path they are currently on towards their GCSEs; they are then placed in a group which will best allow them to stay on this flight path. We regularly review both the target bands and the groups to make sure your child has the best support and challenge possible to meet (and hopefully exceed) their target grade at the end of Year 11.
Click here for the Programme of Learning 2016-17
During the year our newest students study units designed to develop their key skills at secondary level.
Unit 1: Literary Villains
They begin the year with a scheme called ‘Literary Villains’, looking at those dastardly characters we all know and (secretly) love across Literature to introduce your child to how we study English at secondary level. They will read a range of extracts from books with the main focus on characterisation, and be introduced to the skills of close reading of language and structure. We will also help them build their own writing skills, creating their own reprehensible scoundrels and using them in their own creative work! Later in the scheme we give them a chance to argue who is the greatest villain of all time – a class debate for which their oral presentation skills will be assessed.
End of Scheme Assessment: Analyse how a writer has presented a character as villainous.
Unit 2: Spy Fiction
After this, your child will move on to our ‘Spy Fiction’ scheme. Although we feel this appeals a lot to our new boys, we find our girls love this unit too! As part of their study, students will read a whole text together: either ‘Silverfin’ by Charlie Higson or ‘Stormbreaker’ by Anthony Horowitz. They will also encounter a range of other extracts, which we hope may inspire them to read further themselves. As they read, they will begin constructing their own writing in the genre, with a strong focus on the concept of ‘grammar through writing’ to help their choices.
End of Scheme Assessment: Write a section of a story in the style of the Spy Fiction genre
Following this, a short four week unit of exam preparation will lead to their first exam of the year – Paper 1. This is focused around reading and responding to an extract of fiction and writing either description or narrative.
Unit 3: The Theatre
After the exam, students begin a unit simply titled ‘The Theatre’, an introduction to the theatre largely through the study of performance. As well as studying a central play text – ‘Hey There Boy with the Be Bop’ – students are encouraged to perform themselves and look at other types of performance such as poetry. They look at some history of the theatre, improving their non-fiction reading skill as they go.
End of Scheme Assessment: Extended response – How does the community change across the play?
Before the final scheme, students have another two week exam preparation unit, ahead of Paper 2 – an exam on non-fiction, reading and comparing a piece of non-fiction from the 19th Century and the present day, as well as writing an opinion piece.
Unit 4: The Island
The final scheme of Year 7 uses ‘The Tempest’ as a basis to introduce students to the study of Shakespeare at secondary level through light study of elements of the play and its language, whilst beginning some media analysis and further developing their writing.
End of Scheme Assessment: A written response arguing their view on a given opinion.
Throughout the year, we look to extend your child’s skills and introduce more independent learning.
Unit 1: Genre Study – Fantasy fiction
The first unit of the year is a study of how a range of writers use the genre of Fantasy to create their own worlds and characters. At the heart of the scheme is the reading and study of a Fantasy novel, such as ‘The Wind Singer’, ‘The Graveyard Book’ or ‘Coraline’. Alongside this we encourage students to develop the depth and detail of their writing, producing their own work within the genre. As well as this, we will be developing the language skills of structure analysis and evaluating the response of other people to texts, both part of the Paper 1 English exam.
End of Scheme Assessment: Write a short story in the Fantasy genre.
Following the first unit, a brief two week unit prepares students for their Paper 1 exam in Year 8.
Unit 2: Shakespearean Tragedy
As students’ ability and confidence grows in English, we now introduce them to a complete Shakespeare play – Macbeth. Through drama activities, watching theatrical performances and film versions and studying the text, we look to get students to enjoy the excitement and beauty of Shakespeare’s writing. As students study this play in drama later in the year, this is a great opportunity to look at the play from both directions – academic and performance!
End of Scheme Assessment: An analytical response to an extract from Macbeth.
Unit 3: Around the World
Having studied a genre and gone back to Macbeth’s bloody Scotland, we now take students on a whistle-stop trip around the world. Your child will study a variety of texts from different backgrounds and cultures, including poems and short stories, but the central study will be the classic short novel ‘Of Mice and Men’. Through the scheme we will develop students’ ability to analyse character and theme, an early taste of the demands of textual study at GCSE. During the scheme, the Paper 2 English exam will be sat, and we will prepare in a mini-two week unit during ‘Around the World’.
End of Scheme Assessment: An extended response to a question on theme or character in ‘Of Mice and Men’.
Unit 4: The Box
Screens, whether television, iPads or smartphones seem to dominate our lives these days, and are one of the most common ways meaning and narrative are constructed and communicated. This unit studies television, advertising and film to consider different ways meaning is created, looking in particular at how the visual image is used. It serves as an introduction to the study of media and film as well as developing analytical and written English skills. We use advertising in particular to consider techniques used to persuade people, which are then developed into students’ own writing.
End of Scheme Assessment: Write the text for a persuasive speech.
In Year 9 we raise the standard of the texts and skills your child studies to begin them on a 3 year GCSE course.
Unit 1: Storytelling
Using a range of short stories and poetry, and even some film, this unit explores what narrative is and how writers use it to tell stories. As part of this, we study a collection of short stories from the AQA GCSE Anthology, ‘Telling Tales’, students’ first experience of a GCSE set text.
End of Scheme Assessment: Write a short story, focusing on structure and key elements of the form.
Unit 2: Modern Drama
Having looked at prose and poetry, we now introduce students to a GCSE drama text – ‘Blood Brothers’. The focus is on studying character and theme, and the influence and impact of when and where a text was written on our understanding of it. However, students will also get the chance to use role play and more active techniques to study the text. The unit leads students to produce their first GCSE extended response to a Literature text. During the scheme, students sit their first practice paper of the year – Language Paper 1.
End of Scheme Assessment: A response to a Literature exam question on ‘Blood Brothers’
A brief two week unit now prepares them for their second practice paper – Paper 2.
Unit 3: Shakespearean Comedy
Following the study of tragedy, we now turn students’ attention to comedy, allowing students the experience of both major genres before they study their chosen text at the beginning of Year 11. We use as our main text ‘Much Ado About Nothing’, using films and filmed theatrical performances to discover what we mean by ‘comedy’ and how Shakespeare developed his comic heroes, heroines and villains!
NB: In 2016-17, as part of a change in our curriculum plan, Year 9 will be studying Tragedy here as they covered Comedy in Year 8.
End of Scheme Assessment: Study of an extract from a Shakespearean Comedy.
Unit 4: Gothic Fiction
We finish the year with the most challenging unit, studying the genre of Gothic Fiction through the use of 19th Century fiction – a key element of the new Literature GCSE. We allow students to develop their close reading skills and creative writing whilst studying extracts of set texts from the GCSE syllabus. Higher ability students will study ‘Dr Jekyll and Mr Hyde’ in its entirety, and we encourage students to begin to read independently from a list of texts in the genre.
End of Scheme Assessment: Study of an extract from a 19th Century novel.
At this stage of your child’s journey, we make a more discreet split into Language and Literature as separate disciplines, with students having an exercise book for each. Reflecting the importance of the subject, your child will now have 4 English lessons a week.
They will study three of their set texts for GCSE Literature this year: a modern novel or drama, a 19th century novel and a cluster of poems, whilst developing their Language skills. We recommend that students purchase their own copies of the modern and 19th century texts so they can make appropriate notes in them; an anthology containing the poems is provided free of charge.
Unit 1: Modern Texts
We begin with our most accessible text – the modern prose or drama set text. Which text students study depends on the choice of their teacher, but the unit covers analysis of characters, themes and author’s intentions. We also use the subject matter to develop your child’s language skills in a discreet Language Lesson once a week. We recommend purchasing a copy of the text for students to make their own notes in, although the final exam will be ‘closed book’ (they will sit the exam without a copy of the text in front of them). There are links to buy the texts and support books to help with their study here.
End of Scheme Assessment: An exam question on the text, answered ‘closed book’.
Unit 2: Poetry Cluster
The second set Literature text is a collection of poems from an anthology provided free of charge by AQA, entitled either ‘Conflict’ or ‘Relationships’. The thematic arrangement of the poems allows your child to consider the wider issues, and why poets use this form to express their ideas. We take your child through the poems, encouraging them to become fluent readers of poetry through overall discussion, close language and structural analysis and comparison between the poems. At the same time, we continue to prepare for specific questions on Paper 2 of the Language exam. As well as preparing your child for the exam, we aim to inspire a love of poetry at the same time.
End of Scheme Assessment: An exam question comparing two poems from the cluster.
Unit 3: The 19th Century Novel
One of the most challenging requirements of the new GCSE is the study of a novel written in the 19th Century. This unit aims at de-mystifying the language and complexities of writing from the past, looking at the background of the period and what the novel meant to these people. Above all, we try and get across the excitement of the stories and the characters. Again, the text choice is up to the teacher and can vary from Sherlock Holmes, through Dickens to Frankenstein. We do recommend getting copies of the text again, even though this is once again a ‘closed book’ exam.
End of Scheme Assessment: An exam question on the chosen novel.
We finish the year with a dedicated unit preparing students for their Language exams, one of which will be sat in the theatre to introduce them to the situation in which they will find themselves in a year’s time.
In Year 11, students study a Shakespeare play and develop their Language and Literature skills in preparation for their final exams. To further prepare them for their final exams, we have two mock periods during the year and a dedicated programme of revision. Our students have told us in the past how useful they find this: one Year 11 student last summer remarked that they felt almost at home in the final exam as they had been prepared so well. As in Year 10, we dedicate one lesson a week to Language skills, preparing and practising explicitly the questions they will sit in the summer.
Unit 1: Shakespeare
We begin Year 11 with the study of a Shakespeare play, generally either Romeo and Juliet or Macbeth. The focus of the scheme is to see the plays as a performance, written for the theatre rather than just reading. Obviously, we study the text of the play in depth too, as this is what will be required in the end, but we hope to enthuse students about the excitement and tension of the play. During the scheme, we give your child several formal assessment opportunities to build their skills in what is a challenging part of their Literature studies.
Assessments: Two exam questions considering an extract from their set play in the context of the play as a whole.
The rest of the year:
After Christmas, we have a series of units based around revision of the Literature texts, and preparation for the Language exams. At this point in the year, we are told by AQA which scene of their Shakespeare play and which chapter of their 19th Century novel will be the focus, and so we will prepare these in depth, as well as revisiting the Modern text and Poetry Cluster. From the beginning of the Summer term until the end of the exam, students will complete a timed essay a week in practice for the final exams. There will be regular assessment opportunities and a programme of after school revision classes to hone their skills and attempt to give them that last edge to succeed.
Key Stage 5:
Our English Literature course is the AQA A syllabus. Your child will study for three units:
1 – Love Through the Ages: including a Shakespeare play and a novel and selection of poetry.
2 – Modern Times: Literature from 1945 to the present: including a prose, drama and poetry text.
3 – Independent Critical Study: a coursework task, comparing two texts of the student’s choice.
Our English Language and Literature course is also the AQA syllabus. Your child will study for three units:
1 – Telling Stories: studying Language and Literature to learn about how and why stories of different kinds are told.
2 – Exploring Conflict: how language choices help to construct ideas of conflict between people, and between people and their societies.
3 – Making Connections: a coursework investigation task requiring students to make active connections between a literary text and non-literary material.
We have a tradition of students going on to study English at some of the best universities in the country, and we have expertise within the department in preparing students for Oxbridge entrance.
Your child’s work will be marked regularly, with two FAR assessments plus at least one other response in each six week cycle. FAR stands for: Feedback, Action, Response – a cycle in which we encourage students to improve their work by giving them an opportunity to respond to a specific area of their work, involving students in the process of assessment and improvement themselves.
All students also have a dedicated assessment book, in which they complete their four end of unit assessments each year, which are also FAR marked. This book is carried forward from Year 7 through to Year 11 to allow students a record of the progress they are making.
In addition to this, all students complete two Language exams during each year, created by AQA to prepare students for the demands of the challenging new GCSE. We use these as opportunities to develop skills rather than formal exams to create panic in students in their earlier years of secondary education.
Our assessment is based around the flight path model, monitoring your student’s progress over a year towards what we expect them to achieve in their specific target band.
Learning Beyond the Classroom:
We recognise as a department that challenging home learning, appropriate for the age and stage of students can consolidate learning, deepen understanding and prepare students for work to come. It can help in developing independence of learning and taking responsibility for their own learning.
However, we do not believe in setting home learning tasks for its own sake: students have other commitments outside school life, and we should only issue work which will be of benefit to students.
Types of home learning activities set:
The majority of home learning tasks will be preparation for following lessons: reading, annotating texts and planning writing tasks amongst others. This allows students to use their time at home effectively, attempting skills they will then further develop in the lesson. At times we will give students time to read for pleasure.
Some home learning will be set on the Doddle forum, especially useful in English for consolidating language knowledge and understanding. It can also be relevant in revising Literature texts at KS4.
Whatever is set will be clearly age and ability specific and challenging for the student. The task will be clearly explained and have a clear and appropriate time frame to be completed.
Frequency of setting:
Students in Years 7-11 can expect one home learning task a fortnight of varying lengths and difficulties. Most often we aim to produce tasks which will be short and effective, around 15-20 minutes and no more than 30 bar exceptional occasions.
Key Stage 5 students can expect home learning every lesson, and are expected to be studying for the same length of time out of lessons as they are in (5 hours a week).
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