An understanding of language is vital to effective communication and so learning in English forms the heart of the curriculum in any school. As one of the core subjects, it provides pupils with the skills needed to engage positively in the world around them. Without a basic knowledge of reading and writing, pupils will not be able to converse with each other on the sports field, read a recipe in cooking, understand a bus timetable or write a CV. However, our goal in the English department at King Arthur’s is to move beyond functional literacy and instil a love of reading and writing in our students that extends well beyond their school days. We aim to create passionate readers, writers and speakers who have an appreciation for language and literature in all its forms.
Our English curriculum is designed to build skills in each of the following areas:
The curriculum in English is based on the study of a variety of literary texts, both fiction and non-fiction, across a range of genres. Our schemes of work are planned to include various teaching and learning approaches to help students develop their skills in reading, writing and speaking and listening.
In Key Stage 3, we aim to build the resilience of our students in tackling more challenging pieces that will directly feed into the skills they require for GCSE. Each year, pupils will cover a breadth of different genres (including poetry, prose, plays, non-fiction and media genres) and sample the types of questions that they might be required to answer in their Year 11 exams. In this way, we hope that students are constantly being exposed to the content and skills they will need to be successful.
However, more importantly, we want our learners to use what they read in English to build awareness and empathy for wider social and cultural issues. For example, students are asked to consider attitudes to racism and disability through their work in Of Mice and Men and stereotypes about the homeless in Stone Cold.
A brief overview of the content for each year group is provided below:
Each fortnight, students have one English lesson dedicated to ‘reading for pleasure.’ During this hour, students are free to read a text of their choice outside of the English curriculum. English staff will use this time to model good reading habits, listen to pupils read, engage in conversation about the books and texts that students have chosen and ensure they are reading at the appropriate level for their reading age. The school library is also available during this time to renew, return and check out books. Reading is also promoted during tutor times in Key Stage 3.
English is one of the core GCSE subjects and it is compulsory for all students to follow a course which will lead to a formal qualification in English. A good English GCSE is a requirement of further education courses and almost any profession that our young people might end up pursuing in the future. This means that their learning in English over the two-year GCSE course is of pivotal importance.
Students are entered for both GCSE English Language and GCSE English Literature. Our Exam Board is AQA.
The curriculum is structured to balance the demands of both specifications over the course of two years.
Students will sit four public exams (two for each of the English GCSEs) which take place at the end of the two-year course and are marked externally. These usually take place at the end of May and the beginning of June.
Paper 1 Explorations in Creative Reading and Writing (fiction)
Paper 2 Viewpoints and Perspectives (non-fiction)
Paper 1 Shakespeare and the Nineteenth Century Novel
Paper 2 Modern Texts and Poetry
AQA website: http://www.aqa.org.uk
English Language is an unseen exam. Students are taught to understand the requirements of the exam paper, including the format of the questions they will be expected to answer, but cannot revise a set text. It is therefore of the utmost importance that GCSE pupils are practiced at reading and picking apart texts that they have never seen before. Keeping up good habits of independent reading that they have learned in Key Stage 3 will help to ensure success in this area.
For English Literature, GCSE pupils will cover four modules:
All of these exams are closed book. As part of their revision, pupils are expected to learn a selection of quotations from each text to assist them in answering the essay question set. Students are given skills and strategies to help them with this in their lessons in Year 10 and 11.
Students are awarded Grades from 1 to 9, where 9 is the highest and 1 is the lowest.
A Grade 4 is considered a standard pass and will allow students to pursue Level 2 and some Level 3 vocational courses at college or enrol on an apprenticeship. Students who do not achieve a Grade 4 in GCSE English Language will have to resit this qualification.
A Grade 5 is considered a good pass and will allow students to pursue most Level 3 courses in Further Education establishments.
Several Sixth Forms and Colleges request that students wishing to pursue English Language or Literature at A-Level have a Grade 6 or above.
Other useful websites: