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 years 9-11 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 half 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.
Units studied are as follows:
Year 7: An introduction to English literature (from Chaucer to Blake); reading of a contemporary novel (Graham Garner’s ‘Inventing Elliot’); poetry from other cultures; writing to persuade; modern drama (Russell’s ‘Our Day Out’), and travel writing.
Year 8: war poetry; reading non-fiction (under the theme ‘Titanic’); dystopian fiction; writing to describe; an introduction to tragedy; Shakespeare’s ‘Macbeth’.
Students in both year groups are encouraged to revise independently using the ‘Knowledge Organiser’ which accompanies each scheme of work, and the website ‘Quizlet’ to memorise key terms and definitions.
Key Stage 4
Key Stage 4 builds on the work in Years 7 – 8 and culminates in exams for both GCSE English Language and GCSE English Literature. Students follow the AQA syllabus.
The Key Stage includes the study of poetry, a Shakespeare play and various fiction from different genres. We enrich the course by visiting a 'Poetry Live' revision workshop when feasible and by attending the theatre to see 'An Inspector Calls' when it is performed locally.
Year 10 and 11:
Students follow the AQA specifications for GCSE English Language and GCSE English Literature, which involve 100% final examination assessment. Both years 10 and 11 are spent covering the content and skills required to complete the courses.
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' or Charles Dickens’ ‘A Christmas Carol’. Upper ability students are stretched with more challenging text choices, including Mary Shelley’s ‘Frankenstein’ and Shakespeare’s ‘The Merchant of Venice’.
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.
Year 9 is a preparatory year for GCSE, in which the skills for the following years are embedded. Language units include the study of speeches; reading and writing non-fiction; an introduction to 19th century fiction, and the study of the Gothic style. Literature units cover Dickens’ ‘A Christmas Carol’; contemporary poetry, and an introduction to Shakespeare’s ‘Romeo and Juliet’ in preparation for its continued study at GCSE.
Students in all year groups are encouraged to revise independently using the ‘Knowledge Organiser’ which accompanies each scheme of work, the website ‘Quizlet’ to memorise key terms and definitions, and the website ‘GCSE Pod’ to revise key literature texts. We strongly recommend that students obtain copies of all literature set texts for revision at home.
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 – Modern Times’. Coursework 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.