English Language & Literature
Our vision is to make the study of English language and literature a challenging, compelling and thought provoking experience. In language we aim to equip students with the complex skills of comprehension, interpretation and written and verbal expression that they will require in day-to-day life. In literature we aim to encourage a love of reading which goes beyond the classroom. To us, the study of English is a study of life and we encourage our students to question opinions, assumptions and bias whilst showing tolerance and respect for the viewpoints of others.
English language and literature are delivered as two separate subjects on the timetable in order that students can appreciate the subtle differences between the demands of each.
Key Stage 3
At KS3 our students are expected to work independently and in groups when required; promoting personal learning and thinking skills which are essential to success. Students are assessed at the end of each term via a formal essay. The Key Stage 3 language curriculum is varied and balances the study of explicit reading, writing and speaking and listening skills. In literature students study classic and contemporary fiction and non-fiction texts across the key stage along with poetry and Shakespeare, ensuring that they are fully prepared for the demands of GCSE.
At KS3 students are formally assessed at the end of each term against reading and writing AOs (Assessment Objectives). This enables us to closely track their progress in each AO over the year and indeed the whole Key Stage, and to implement interventions on an individual and whole class basis where necessary.
Language units studied are as follows:
Year 7: Charles Dickens (his life and work); travel writing; delivering formal presentations.
Year 8: writing to inform, explain and describe; responding to moving image media and film; scriptwriting and theatricality.
Year 9: writing to argue and persuade; the study of non-fiction and media texts; the study of the Gothic style.
Literature units studied are as follows:
Year 7: Dickens’ ‘A Christmas Carol’; poetry from other cultures; modern drama (Russell’s ‘Our Day Out’).
Year 8: war poetry; reading of a contemporary novel (Graham Garner’s ‘Inventing Elliot’); Shakespeare’s ‘Macbeth’.
Year 9: contemporary poetry; H.G. Wells’ ‘War of the Worlds’; Shakespeare’s ‘Romeo and Juliet’ (in preparation for GCSE).
Key Stage 4
Key Stage 4 builds on the work in Years 7 – 9 and culminates in exams for both GCSE English Language and GCSE English Literature. Students follow the AQA syllabus.
The Key Stage includes the reading of a poetry anthology, a Shakespeare play and various fiction from different genres. We enrich the course by visiting a 'Poetry Live' revision workshop and by attending the theatre to see 'An Inspector Calls' when it is performed locally.
Controlled Assessments are undertaken throughout the course; we closely monitor attainment and issue students with focused targets after each piece of work. Three external examinations are taken at the end of Year 11. Three pieces of Speaking and Listening work are also completed (an individual, group-based and a drama based task); the grade is separately reported alongside the final result at the end of the course.
Controlled Assessments and examination units are as follows:
GCSE English Language: extended reading (Steinbeck’s ‘Of Mice and Men’); creative writing; spoken language study; understanding and producing non-fiction texts.
GCSE English Literature: Shakespeare and work from the English literary heritage (comparative essay); poetry across time; modern drama (Priestley’s ‘An Inspector Calls’); exploring cultures.
Students entering Year 10 from 2015 onwards study the new AQA specification, which involves 100% final examination assessment. Literature examination texts include Shakespeare's 'Romeo and Juliet', Priestley's 'An Inspector Calls', and R L Stevenson's 'The Strange Case of Dr Jekyll and Mr Hyde'. Language units focus on understanding fiction and literary non-fiction texts from the 19th, 20th and 21st centuries, as well as writing to describe, narrate, and communicate a point of view. The course includes a compulsory spoken element, which involves the delivery of a presentation and answering a series of questions using appropriate standard English.
Key Stage 5
The ability to understand the character and motivation of those around you is a useful tool in any circumstance: being ‘well read’ also engenders a better understanding of human nature throughout the ages, whilst providing access to social, historical and political commentary, written by men and women within prominent literary circles. At St Margaret Ward, students follow the AQA English Literature Specification A which offers a challenging and enjoyable programme of study for all those with an interest in and enthusiasm for, literature across all genres. Universities regard this subject as an academic and rigorously assessed certificate, and without doubt see it as an indicator of a well-rounded student.
The aim of the course is to consolidate and enhance skills acquired at KS4 and nurture independence. Throughout the course students complete units on prose, drama, Shakespeare and poetry all based around the themes of ‘Love Through The Ages’ and ‘Texts in Shared Contexts’. Assessment is through an extended essay which includes analysis of a set novel, along with a text of the student’s own choosing, encouraging greater independence and allowing the students to tailor part of the course to their own literary preferences. The course culminates in two examinations which test the students’ understanding of literature across the ages from Medieval to Post – Modern writing and includes not only the texts studied in year 12 and 13, but also unseen literature and a collection of poetry studied throughout the course.