The English Department at Churchdown School Academy is a friendly, inclusive and high achieving department housed in a purpose-built block. We currently have twelve full time members of teaching staff, one part time member of teaching staff and a specialist English TA.
English has a unique place within the curriculum because it encourages students to explore ideas about humanity and society through the texts we study. We place equal emphasis on all of the curriculum sub-strands and spend time equipping students with the skills they need to be able to read, write and communicate orally to a high standard which will set them up to be successful later on in life in whichever path they choose to take.
We are proud of all of our students and take great care to nurture individuals whether this be through small and intensive catch-up groups, or through challenging our most able through a range of challenging texts and theories. We offer both GCSE Language and Literature courses (AQA) and teach English Literature Specification B in the sixth form.
In years 7, 8 and 9 students are encouraged to develop their reading and writing skills by accessing a wide range of texts. There is also a focus on the knowledge needed within the study of English; students are encouraged to build a strong foundation of knowledge in order to be properly prepared to undertake their English GCSEs. The course is set up thematically, and students’ learning is interleaved to encourage their skills and knowledge to build over the three years.
In Year 7 students begin with an autobiographical unit called ‘Me Myself and I’ where they study their first novel, then move into ‘Finding a Voice’ where they study viewpoint poetry and learn to develop a voice in their own writing. Finally, they look at ‘Criminals and Villains’ within literature, studying Sherlock Holmes and looking at Shakespeare’s infamous villains.
In Year 8 students begin to access higher level texts and build on the knowledge they gained in Year 7. Initially they study ‘Travel Through Time’ where they look at travel literature from 1700 to the current day. They use this to create their own fictional travel pieces. Students then study a unit on ‘Heroes’ which ensures they engage with WWI poetry and Shakespeare’s tragic heroes. Finally, they look at ‘Language of Food’ which enables them to study ‘Oliver Twist’ and the world of Charles Dickens, alongside looking at non-fiction food articles and reviews.
In Year 9 students continue to access challenging texts to ensure they are ready for the GCSE texts they will study the following year. Until Christmas they study a unit titled ‘Rural vs City Life’ where they study a former GCSE text ‘Of Mice and Men’ and use it as a point of comparison when looking at non-fiction describing London in the 19th century. They then look at ‘Relationships’, a unit which unpicks modern ideas about gender by considering the relationship dynamics in Shakespeare’s plays and then students are encouraged to write their own viewpoint non-fiction on modern relationships and attitudes to gender. The final term is ‘Preparing for GCSE’ and students read their first GCSE text, ‘An Inspector Calls’ and then do a piece of creative writing in the style of the GCSE exam.
We strongly believe as a department that a challenging and dynamic Key Stage 3 is crucial in ensuring that students are not only prepared for their GCSE study, but are also set up for a lifelong love of Literature.
The English Department enters all students for:
English Language (AQA)
English Literature (AQA)
The English Language GCSE is comprised of two papers which assess a range of reading and writing skills where reading and writing are worth the same amount of marks. There is also a non-examined assessment for Spoken Language which is a separate endorsement.
The English Literature GCSE requires pupils to study a cluster of poems (we currently offer the conflict and power cluster), the modern play ‘An Inspector Calls’ , the nineteenth century novel ‘A Christmas Carol’ and the Shakespeare play ‘Macbeth’.
In order to ensure that students remember all of these texts by the end of Year 11, we spend a long term studying and annotating the texts, and interleave within the study of GCSE English Literature the necessary skills for the GCSE in English Language. We study the 15 poems in clusters across Year 10 and in the first term of Year 11. By the Christmas of Year 11 we have covered all the course content for Literature, and from that point onwards we focus on developing the analytical skills needed for both GCSEs.
We use knowledge organisers to create the core of students’ revision and independent study. Students are also encouraged to re-read their texts after they study them to develop a more detailed understanding of the characters and themes the writers are exploring. In addition to this, we offer a range of intervention and revision opportunities across Year 11 to ensure students are best prepared for their GCSE examinations.
Students sit four papers for their exams at the end of Year 11. They are:
· GCSE English Literature Paper 1 – 1 hour 45 minutes.
‘Macbeth’ and ‘A Christmas Carol’ – 64 marks.
Students are given an extract from the text and a question. They are expected to link their ideas to the knowledge of the whole text.
· GCSE English Literature Paper 2 – 2 hours 15 minutes.
‘An Inspector Calls’, Power and Conflict poetry cluster and unseen poetry – 96 marks.
Students are given two choices of questions for ‘An Inspector Calls’ and then must analyse the text entirely from memory. Students will be given one poem from the 15 studied and be asked to compare it to another poem they have studied. Finally, they will be given an unseen poem to analyse, and then a second unseen poem to compare to the first.
· GCSE English Language Paper 1 – 1 hour 45 minutes.
Students will be given an unseen fiction source. They will be asked four questions of increasing difficulty on the source, totalling 40 marks. They then must complete a piece of creative fiction writing for a further 40 marks.
· GCSE English Language Paper 2 – 1 hour 45 minutes.
Students will be given two unseen non-fiction sources. They will be asked four questions of increasing difficulty on the sources, including comparing them, totalling 40 marks. They then must complete a piece of viewpoint non-fiction writing for a further 40 marks.
English Literature Specification B. Exam Board: AQA
At A Level, we now offer the linear two year course which means that pupils build on their skills over the two years and then take terminal exams in the Summer of year 13. We offer the crime and tragedy routes and each area is assessed by one exam. The tragedy exam is closed book and is 2.5 hours long with the crime paper being an open book exam lasting three hours.
In addition to the examinations, there is also a non-examined assessment worth 20% where pupils are required to write two essays; one on a novel and one on a poetry collection. These two texts are then linked to areas of critical theory.
Within the study of the crime genre, students explore the presentation of criminality in a range of texts. They look at a collection of poetry, and analyse the portrayal of the criminal mind and how poets develop the criminal voice within their poetry. They also study Dickens’ ‘Oliver Twist’ and unpick ideas about 19th century crime and punishment. Students will also study a modern novel, McEwan’s ‘Atonement’, which encourages them to consider narrative theory and the importance of class within criminality. Throughout the two-year course they will analyse a range of unseen crime texts to prepare for this element of the exam.
When studying tragedy, students look at the role of the tragic hero and how this has developed over time. They look at the Shakespearean tragedy ‘Othello’, analysing his downfall as a tragic hero and considering how the text fits into typical tragedy tropes. They also explore the text ‘Death of a Salesman’ and consider how it fits into the tragedy genre as it is set in 1930s America. Finally, they study the poetry of Keats and look at how tragedy can exist with Romantic texts.
Extra Curricular Opportunities
We currently offer our KS4 and 5 students the opportunity to attend catch-up, revision and intervention sessions at lunch time and after school. Our sixth form students are also afforded the opportunity to work with a member of staff in their study periods to extend their in-class provision by arrangement with the teacher and student.
We run our English house event which is a highlight of the English calendar where students from all year groups are given the opportunity to compete in the highly competitive and prestigious spelling bee! We run homework clubs for all students to ensure that students have space and support to complete their homework.
We will be building on the success of last year’s debate club, whilst continuing the word game club for Year 7 students. We will begin a new letter writing club, where students can attend and be given the guidance and supplies to write to various people, such as celebrities, politicians, and inspirational individuals. We will also re-launch our ‘Between the Reads’ club which takes a small subscription from parents in order for students to read 6 books across the year and attend a book club where they discuss the book with the teacher and their peers.
Students are encouraged to use the school library to read regularly at home. Reading 20 minutes per day is crucial to students’ understanding of vocabulary, punctuation, and sentence structure. It will help them in their GCSEs not only in English but in all of the subjects they choose to study.
Next steps or Where the subject leads
As a subject, English is a vital stepping stone for any career path or next steps in education.
English equips our students with the ability to communicate effectively both through written and spoken modes and prepares them with lifelong skills such as CV and letter writing skills.