Within the English department, we work hard to ensure that pupils find the learning of English to be both enjoyable and of relevance to their every-day lives. Our team is made up of highly skilled individuals, including qualified primary specialists (who design and implement our literacy curriculum) and highly experienced secondary teachers who also work as examiners of the GCSE series. This ensures a wealth of knowledge and expertise amongst our staff and enables us to deliver exceptional standards of teaching and learning as a team.
Our aim is to provide all students with the skills and confidence necessary to succeed in both English Language and Literature GCSEs, as well as the ability to express themselves clearly and confidently in written and verbal contexts. Above all, however, we aim to equip our students with a passion and enthusiasm for our subject, which is – we believe – the very foundation of success in English.
All of our classrooms are fully equipped with interactive whiteboards, dictionaries and thesauruses as standard, as well as a range of tailor-made resources to ensure that every child makes exceptional progress. Our teachers are committed to diagnostic planning, meaning that lessons are tailor-made by our teachers to meet the needs of the students whom they teach. We have an open-door policy and encourage the sharing of good practice amongst our staff.
Key Stage 3
In Years 7, 8 and 9, students cover a range of topics designed to prepare them on the road to GCSE and beyond. Our topics encourage students to explore through our study of literature taking our students on literary journeys. Students travel back in time and explore themes of power, greed and the supernatural through the study of Shakespeare’s ‘Macbeth’ – also an opportunity for students to learn their lines and perform aspects of this play themselves; they travel back to Dickens’ London to explore non-fiction accounts of the lives of children in the Victorian era; they travel to various parts of the globe through study of seminal world literature – such as the class novel ‘Purple Hibiscus’ by renowned Nigerian author Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie.
In addition to the numerous literary texts that are used to enthuse and inspire students in the Key Stage 3 curriculum, our units of learning also focus on the key skills of reading and writing. Through study of a range of fiction and non-fiction texts, students learn to read for meaning, interpreting and analysing the works of a range of writers. Students are also encouraged to think for themselves, and to write for a range of different purposes – describe, narrate, inform, argue and persuade.
The Key Stage 3 curriculum also involves regular spelling bees between classes in the school hall, where students come together to compete and support their respective teams. This interactive and fun approach to spellings has been a fantastic addition to our curriculum and adds challenge to our more confident spellers. For students who find literacy more challenging, the department run a ‘Lexia’ programme before and after school – providing students with personalised support in developing their literacy skills.
Regular assessment ensures that teachers know where each student is at, in terms of their progress, and helps to normalise the exam process in advance of the GCSE exams.
Key Stage 4
Our GCSE curriculum is a two-year programme of study, preparing students to sit their final examinations at the end of Year 11. We follow the AQA double award in English Language and English Literature, culminating in four examinations in all. Students come away from this course with two separate GCSE qualifications.
Through Years 10 and 11, teachers work very closely with their students to ensure progress in both GCSEs – with critical thinking sessions run for those students displaying exceptional talent in the subject, and regular intervention sessions for students needing a helping hand with one or more aspect of the course.
GCSE English Literature
Our set texts for the study of literature are:
- ‘A Christmas Carol’, by Charles Dickens;
- ‘Much Ado About Nothing’ or ‘Romeo and Juliet’ by William Shakespeare (check with your child’s English teacher);
- ‘An Inspector Calls’, by J B Priestley;
- The AQA Poetry Anthology (Power and Conflict - a collection of 15 poems).
Students are also required to write about two unseen poems in their Paper 2 examination for Literature.
GCSE English Language
Students will sit two separate examinations for English Language, requiring them to answer questions on a total of three unseen texts. The final question for each exam requires them to write their own composition on a set question.
Spoken Language Endorsement
Students will be required to speak – either in the format of a TV interview or a formal debate – for which they will be awarded a level (pass, merit, or distinction). A select number of students will be recorded speaking for the exam board moderator. Certificates are awarded on GCSE results day. More details about this can be found via the link below.
Examination Information links
GCSE English Language and English Literature:
Spoken Language Endorsement:
There are a wide range of revision guides available for you to purchase for your child, should you so wish, which will help to prepare them for aspects of both GCSEs. We in the department recommend the CGP revision guides in particular, as we find them accessible and easy to follow.
You can find links for the relevant books below (or find them from a range of sellers online or in stores). Do be mindful that the new style GCSEs differ from the old ones, so should you wish to purchase a different revision guide, please ensure that the book states suitability for ‘grades 1-9’ -which reflects the new grading system. You will also need to ensure that your guide is in support of the AQA specification. Please ask your child’s English teacher or Head of English if you feel you would like further guidance.
Links For Relevant Books
CGP revision guide for English Language (grades 1-9):
CGP revision guide for ‘A Christmas Carol’:
CGP revision guide for ‘Much Ado About Nothing’:
CGP revision guide for ‘Romeo and Juliet’:
CGP revision guide for ‘An Inspector Calls’:
There are also a number of free online resources which can be utilised for purposes of revision. Some of the ones that we find particularly useful are detailed below.
BBC Bitesize contains overviews, tips, videos, quizzes/ tests, and is a fantastic addition to your child’s revision toolkit.
BBC Bitesize English Language revision: https://www.bbc.co.uk/education/examspecs/zcbchv4
BBC Bitesize English Literature revision –
‘Much Ado About Nothing’: http://www.bbc.co.uk/schools/gcsebitesize/english_literature/dramamuchado/
‘Romeo and Juliet’: http://www.bbc.co.uk/schools/gcsebitesize/english_literature/dramaromeojuliet/
‘An Inspector Calls’: http://www.bbc.co.uk/schools/gcsebitesize/english_literature/dramainspectorcalls/
The AQA Poetry Anthology (Power and Conflict – a collection of fifteen poems):
‘Tissue’ – a full revision guide/ test/ video
‘Kamikaze’- a full revision guide/ test/ video
‘Remains’ – a full revision guide/ test/ video
‘Exposure’ – a full revision guide/ test/ video
‘The Émigrée’ – a full revision guide/ test/ video
‘Checking Out Me History’- video: poem recital and talk from the poet
‘London’ – video: discussion of/ analysis of the poem
‘Storm on the Island’ – video: discussion with the poet about the troubles in Northern Ireland at the time Heaney wrote his poetry
Enrichment and Extra Curricular Activities
We are incredibly proud to be home to a hugely successful team of debaters who attend weekly ‘Debate Mate’ sessions in the English department. Our talented teams have gone on to represent the academy at a number of local and national championships, and our debaters continue to bring home awards and do us immensely proud! The debate team is a fantastic opportunity for students from Years 7 to 10 to come together as one and support, encourage and celebrate with one another. Many of our students have gone from being considerably shy to finding their voice through this group activity, with one of our students citing it as the source of his confidence in applying for (and succeeding in obtaining) the role of Head Boy. Our successes here also extend into the Jack Petchey ‘Speak Out’ Challenge, where our students continue to represent us on an annual basis at the Lewisham final.
As much of our curriculum centres on drama, we also aim to get students out to the theatre where possible, enabling them to watch live performances of the plays which they study. In addition to this, we run trips to the local cinema where pupils are able to watch live screenings of plays in popular demand (an incentive set up by The National Theatre to accommodate high demand in audience viewings), and we hire theatre companies to come in and deliver plays to entire year groups when there are not opportunities for live performances outside of the academy.