English

Our aim is to encourage all students to understand the impact of written and spoken communication. Students are taught to recognise the effects of language and gain an appreciation of the different perspectives of the world through a range of texts. Staff work hard to inspire pupils to want to express themselves creatively, appropriately and effectively by using the richness and diversity of the English language.

Key stage 3 students are exposed to a range of texts which explore key themes in many different ways. In year 7 we study Skellig or The Boy in the Striped Pyjamas, plus a modern play, Private Peaceful, and detective stories. The students also study the spoken word and focus on the importance of discussion, with work based around poetry.

Year 8 focus on a Shakespeare play, a novel, a unit of work on based around survival, poetry from other cultures and pre-1914 literature.

In year 9, we begin to concentrate on the GCSE course, embedding skills for the new 100% examination specification. We study poetry, Shakespeare, two novels, and Gothic writing. All units of work have a balance of writing and reading.

We also engage students with a low reading age on a specific literacy programme in order to improve their reading skills. This runs across key stage 3 and takes place on a one-to-one basis.

The Learning Resource Centre

The English department works hand in hand with the Learning Resource Centre (LRC). Key stage 3 students visit the LRC to take part in the accelerated reader programme, which offers challenging reading activities based on individual ability. Students are also regularly assessed using the star reading test, which assesses reading age and helps teaching staff to understand personalised needs across the curriculum.

GCSE

GCSE English Language

Exam board: AQA
Course code: 8700
Contact: Mrs J West | jwest@retfordoaks-ac.org.uk

GCSE English Language allows students to prepare for life after school, enabling them to write for all kinds of audiences and to be able to read many different types of texts. The course is balanced and runs alongside English Literature, so that students concentrate on a different element each half term. The course introduces students to different genres and exposes them to the world and all of its possibilities.

What will I study?

You will demonstrate skills in speaking, listening, reading and writing necessary to communicate with others confidently, effectively, precisely and appropriately. You will be able to use language to express yourself creatively and imaginatively and you will become a critical reader of fiction and non-fiction prose, poetry and drama.

How will I be assessed?

The exam is worth 100%. There are two papers, and each is 1hr 45mins long.

Paper one: explorations and creative reading and writing

Section A – reading:

Students read an extract from a literature text from either the 20th or 21st century and are asked to consider how established writers use narrative and descriptive techniques to capture the interest of the reader. Students are asked to answer 4 questions on the text.

Section B – writing:

Students write their own creative text, inspired by the topic in section A. They must demonstrate their narrative and descriptive skills. They are given a prompt, such as a scenario or an image.

Paper two: writers’ viewpoints and perspectives

Section A – reading:

This paper asks students to develop their insights into how writers have particular viewpoints and perspectives on issues or themes that are important to the way we think and live our lives. It encourages students to demonstrate their skills in different ways. Students read two linked sources from different time periods and genres in order to consider how each presents a perspective or a viewpoint to influence the reader.

Section B – writing:

Students have to produce a text with a specified audience, purpose and form in mind. They have to give their own perspective on a theme that has been introduced to them in section A. The texts will be non-fiction and literary non-fiction, from the 19th century and either the 20th or 21st century. These could be letters, diaries, travel writing, autobiography etc. Students are asked to answer 4 questions on the text.

Students write their own creative text, inspired by the topic in section A. They must demonstrate their narrative and descriptive skills. They are given a prompt, such as a scenario or an image.
Students are assessed on their spoken language, but this no longer forms part of their final grade. Students are tested on their presenting skills, responding to questions and feedback and their use of standard English.

Course outcomes

1 x GCSE (grades 9-1)

What careers could I pursue?

Your English GCSE will be relevant to any future career, as all careers need clear reading and writing skills.

GCSE English Literature

Exam board: AQA
Course code: 8702
Contact: Mrs J West | jwest@retfordoaks-ac.org.uk

Those people studying literature look at poems, plays, essays, stories and novels. Reading and learning about these helps people to sympathize with others and see how complex humans truly are. It aids in broadening a person’s intellectual horizons and it stimulates a more active imagination. Literature explores different human beliefs, ideas and societies. This allows people to learn about where they came from and how past events work to shape the different cultures.

What will I study?

GCSE English Literature allows students to read, study and write about texts in a detailed way.  The course runs alongside English Language. Students will concentrate on a different element each half term. The course introduces students to different genres and exposes them to the world in the past, present and future and all of its possibilities.

Students will develop their reading skills whilst studying the set texts. They will explore plot and work on literal comprehension and inference skills. They will become critical readers, focusing on theme and be able to support different points of view. They will focus on language use, and be able to compare and evaluate different texts.

How will I be assessed?

The exam is worth 100%. This is divided into two papers, paper one is 1hr 45mins long and paper two is 2hrs 15mins long.

Paper one: Shakespeare and the 19th century novel (40%)

Section A – Shakespeare:

Students will answer one question on the text they have studied. They will have to write in detail about an extract from the play and then write about the play as a whole.

Section B – the 19th-century novel:

Students will write an answer about an extract from the novel they have studied and then write about the novel as a whole.

Paper two: modern texts and poetry (60%)

Section A – modern text:

Students have to answer one question from a text they have studied.

Section B – poetry:

Students will answer one comparative question on one named poem and one other from the chosen anthology cluster. Poems are clustered thematically; we will look at either ‘love and relationships’ or ‘power and conflict’. Poems are written between 1789 and the present day.

Section C – unseen poetry:

Students will be given two unseen poems that they have to compare. Students should be able to analyse and compare key features such as the content, theme, structure, and use of language.

Course outcomes

1 x GCSE (grades 9-1)

What careers could I pursue?

Your English GCSE will be relevant to any future career, as all careers need clear reading and writing skills.

Retford Oaks Academy