Because success in English promotes success in all subjects, we offer students a wide range of opportunities to develop their reading, writing, speaking and listening skills. We want our students to develop their understanding of the world around them by becoming fluent, accurate communicators. Language skills of all kinds are developed to promote fluency, accuracy and the enjoyment of reading and writing.

“Literacy is the means through which every man, woman and child can realise his or her full potential.”

Kofi Annan

Course description

Students encounter a wide variety of texts from non-fiction texts to well-known classic writing fundamental to our culture, encompassing poetry, prose and drama. Students read regularly in class and are encouraged to read widely for pleasure.

We teach writing in a variety of styles for a variety of purposes. Our emphasis throughout is on developing accuracy and a clear sense of audience. Spelling, grammar and punctuation skills are taught systematically, highlighted regularly, and reinforced through regular assessments. Literacy lessons, catch-up classes and differentiated teaching give further support as appropriate.

Speaking and listening skills are developed through class and group discussion, drama and formal presentations. Building on their growing confidence, we expect students as they move through the years to be ready to speak fluently and articulately, whilst also listening and responding with real attention to their peers.

In Year 7, students study three termly units that cover a range of reading and writing skills. In Autumn, students study The Girl of Ink and Stars by Kiran Millwood Hargrave. As part of this study, students look at Greek mythology, writing skills, thematic issues and wider literary texts. In Spring term, students explore the world of Shakespeare before studying Macbeth. Finally, in Summer, students study poetry through time; exploring poems from a wide range of geographical, historical and cultural backgrounds.

In Year 8, students develop their understanding and appreciation of literary texts through the study of the Private Peaceful, then moving to look at a range of literary fiction and non fiction texts linked to the theme of conflict. In Spring, students study texts related to Heroes and Villains throughout literature, the primary focus being on Oliver Twist and The Speckled Band. Students spend the Summer term developing their English Language skills by looking at a range of non-fiction texts as part of the language and communication unit of work.

In Year 9, students develop and hone the skills needed to be successful English GCSE candidates. In Autumn, the unit of work Identity and Prejudice encourages students to comment on issues such as racism and prejudice in all forms and across a range of genres and time periods. Students then move on to looking at ‘The Novel’ as a literary form and develop their understanding of characterisation and narrative structures as well as exploring lyrical communication, considering the lyrics of Bob Dylan and, more recently, artists such as ‘Dave’. The Summer transition between year 9 and year 10 focuses on the detective genre, culminating in a GCSE style piece of creative writing. Finally, students study An Inspector Calls; this is their GCSE modern text.


Students’ work is assessed twice every term for reading and writing. Students respond to teacher feedback after every assessment to encourage independence and reflection.

Ways to help my child succeed

Ensure that your child has access to a range of reading material, including novels, literary non-fiction, newspapers and access to the internet. Read with your child and discuss your reactions to what you’ve read, whether this is a response to issues and characters in fiction or real events and issues in the news. Check your child’s homework for all subjects and work together to correct and spelling, punctuation or grammar errors that occur.

Success in GCSE English Language and English Literature is the key to success in all subjects and all aspects of life. Having confident literacy skills allows our students to have options, opportunities and the ability to articulate themselves effectively in an increasingly competitive world. Students can explore other worlds past and present whilst they read and delve into their own creativity when they write.

“Acquiring literacy is an empowering process, enabling millions to enjoy access to knowledge and information which broadens horizons, increases opportunities and creates alternatives for building a better life.”

Kofi Annan

Course description

The courses are taught concurrently but result in two GCSEs at the end of year 11.

Year 10 – Students will focus on both English Language and English Literature, completing a range of practice exams to prepare them for their GCSE exams. Students will study a range of fiction and non-fiction texts. The English Literature set texts include, A Christmas Carol, An Inspector Calls and students will study the AQA Love and Relationships poetry anthology.   Students will also complete a speaking and listening assessment.

Year 11 – Students will study Romeo and Juliet and continue to read a range of fiction and non-fiction texts in preparation for their GCSE exams.
Most colleges, universities and employers regard English Language and English Literature as the most important qualifications that you can have.  For this reason, it is really important for students to get the best result they can in these subject areas.  Students will want at least a Grade 5 (current C grade) in English Language and English Literature if you intend to study at university and many further education establishments will ask you to achieve five grades at Grade 5 and above to include English Language and/or Literature and Maths before you can access their courses.  Many employers now regard these as essential qualifications too.

These courses lead perfectly onto A-Level English Language and A-Level English Literature or other creative and analytical subjects, such as History, Media Studies and Theatre Studies . The courses can therefore provide a strong foundation for careers in journalism, teaching and the legal profession as well as many others.

Exam board

AQA GCSE English Language 8700
AQA English Literature 8702

Past papers

There are a selection of past papers for both GCSEs on the AQA website here:

Literature- https://www.aqa.org.uk/subjects/english/gcse/english-literature-8702/assessment-resources

Language- https://www.aqa.org.uk/subjects/english/gcse/english-language-8700/assessment-resources


100% of the marks are earned from final examinations at the end of Year 11. Students will be assessed each half term on exam practice responses for reading and writing in preparation for these exams. Students will also be awarded a separate spoken language endorsement.

GCSE English Language

Paper 1: Explorations in Creative Reading and Writing (50% of GCSE)

Section A – Reading (one literature fiction text)

  • 1 short form question (1 x 4 marks)
  • 2 longer form questions (2 x 8 marks)
  • 1 extended question (1 x 20 marks)

Section B Writing (descriptive or narrative writing)

  • 1 extended writing question (24 marks for content, 16 marks for technical accuracy)

Paper 2: Writer’s Viewpoints and Perspectives (50% of GCSE)

Section A – Reading (one non-fiction text and one literary non-fiction text)

  • 1 short form question (1 x 4 marks)
  • 2 longer form questions (1 x 8, 1 x 12 marks)
  • 1 extended question (1 x 16 marks

Section B – Writing (writing to present a viewpoint)

  • 1 extended writing question (24 marks for content, 16 marks for technical accuracy

Non-examination assessment: spoken language

  • presenting
  • responding to questions and feedback
  • use of Standard English

GCSE English Literature

Paper 1: Shakespeare and the 19th-century novel (40% of GCSE)

Section A – Shakespeare

  • Students will answer one question on their play of choice. They will be required to write in detail about an extract from the play and then to write about the play as a whole.

Section B – The 19th-century novel

  • Students will answer one question on their novel of choice. They will be required to write in detail about an extract from the novel and then to write about the novel as a whole.

Paper 2: Modern texts and poetry (60% of GCSE)

Section A – Modern texts

  • Students will answer one essay question from a choice of two on their studied modern prose or drama text.

Section B – Poetry

  • Students will answer one comparative question on one named poem printed on the paper and one other poem from their chosen anthology cluster.
  • Section C Unseen poetry: Students will answer one question on one unseen poem and one question comparing this poem with a second unseen poem.

Ways to help my child succeed

Ensure your child has access to a range of reading material, including novels, literary non-fiction,  newspapers and access to the internet. Read with your child and discuss your reactions to what you are reading, whether this is a response to issues and characters in fiction or real events and issues in the news. Ensure your child is regularly reading their set texts. Check your child’s homework is thorough and work together to correct and spelling, punctuation or grammar errors that occur.

Useful websites



Key Stage 3 Resources

Accelerated Reader Resources

Key Stage 4 Language Resources

Key Stage 4 Literature Resources

Knowledge Organisers

A3 Overviews of all the topics and skills covered at Key Stage 3/4. There is a Knowledge Organiser to accompany every unit across the curriculum, from which students can revise and test themselves.

GCSE revision resource

Year 11 Revision Videos

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GCSE Language Paper 2 (PiXL Resources)

Other resources

As part of our commitment to ensuring that all students maximise their potential and are equipped to access the rigors of the KS3 and new KS4 curriculum, all year 7, 8 and 9 students take part in an online reading intervention programme called Accelerated Reader by Renaissance learning.

Over the course of the school year, all of our students in years 7, 8 and 9 take termly online reading tests known as the STAR test. This is a very sophisticated, online test which generates questions to assess the reading ability of each child. Depending on whether a child answers correctly or not, the level of the next question is adjusted, making sure that each child has a bespoke set of questions, suitable for their reading ability. This then provides teachers with a child’s reading age, standardised scores and importantly a ‘zpd’ or level. Once the initial testing is complete, students are being told what their reading zpd/level is, or the books in the library that match this. This is within a range and equates to a whole section of books, colour coded in the library.

The Accelerated Reader programme is for use at school; however, it works alongside ARBook Finder which is an online database of books compatible with the Accelerated Reader: www.arbookfind.co.uk

We recognise that reading for pleasure can look and feel different to reading which focuses on developing a full range of reading skills. Consequently, the Accelerated Reader scheme can run alongside the pupils’ own free choice from the range of books in the library. Teachers are spending a great deal of time at the moment, and over the next few weeks, explaining the system and assisting children to make appropriate book choices.

What is Accelerated Reader? (AR)

AR is a computer program that helps teachers manage and monitor children’s independent reading practice. Your child picks a book at their own Zone of Proximal Development (ZPD) level and reads it at their own pace. When finished, your child takes a short quiz on the computer. (Passing the quiz is an indication that your child understood what was read.) AR gives children, teachers, and parents feedback based on the quiz results, which the teacher then uses to help your child set goals and direct ongoing reading practice.

Children using AR choose their own books to read, rather than having one assigned to them. This makes reading a much more enjoyable experience as they can choose books that are interesting to them.

What does ZPD mean (Zone of Proximal Development)?

This is the reading range that best suits your child’s reading age and ability: books with within the ZPD will challenge your child, but will also be accessible. All fiction books in the school library are colour-coded and labelled with their ZPD:

For example, if your child’s ZPD is 4.1-6.3, they should be choosing books in the library that are colour-coded either purple, green or blue, depending on the level of challenge they desire.

How can I help my child become a better reader?

As with anything, performance improves with practice. Encourage your child to read at home and complete reading quizzes. You can access the reading quizzes and information about your child’s reading, at the following website: https://ukhosted83.renlearn.co.uk/1893564/

Students should not STAR test at home but they can QUIZ. They must only QUIZ on books they have read recently. Once they finish a book, they should aim to quiz within 48 hours. If your child chooses to quiz outside of school, it should be done independently and without the reading book in front of them.

All students have been given a unique username and password, which allows them to login and take reading tests once they have read a book. You can use the website to see what books have Accelerated Reader tests, how many books your child has read, the difficulty of each book and chart your child’s progress.

If you have any further queries or questions relating to the AR programme, please don’t hesitate to get in touch with Miss H. Woolerton, Head of English.


AR parents’ information evening