English

Postmodernist writer Angela Carter once stated that “language is power, life and the instrument of culture, the instrument of domination and liberation.” By studying the English language, Central Academy students are encouraged to recognise and develop the most powerful instrument they will ever have; their ability to successfully communicate with their peers both inside and outside of the classroom. We want our students not only to appreciate and analyse the texts we put in front of them, but to ask thought-provoking questions of them and to evaluate writers we have come to accept as part of our great British heritage. Our students are taught to understand, infer and deduce information from texts, and are encouraged to empathise with the characters within them. Language is indeed power, but it is also a work in progress and our students are encouraged to have fun with it too. Through study of a variety of fiction and non-fiction texts, students are challenged to become critical readers and take inspiration from others in their bid to become technically accurate, creative writers. In lessons, our students have an opportunity to voice their opinions and share discussions on both texts which have stood the test of time, as well as new, exciting pieces which are breaking the boundaries of modern-day literature.

The English department at Central Academy boasts a wealth of experience, which has continuously delivered good and outstanding results in recent years. Over 69% of students achieved the national standard of a grade 9-4 in English last year, whilst A-level continues to go from strength-to-strength. At KS5, 50% of students achieved a grade A*-B in 2016/17. We are very proud of the achievements of our students.

During Key Stage Three all Year 7 and 8 students receive four lessons of English each week with plans in place to extend this to five in the next academic year. Our curriculum successfully meets the requirements for the new National Curriculum guidance, but also systematically prepares students for the challenges they will face at G.C.S.E.  All students have an opportunity to study the works of William Shakespeare, with current text choices of A Midsummer Night’s Dream at Year 7 and Macbeth at Year 8.  Whilst Year 7 study an exciting modern-day text in Joseph’s Delaney’s novel The Spook’s Apprentice, Year 8 students are given the opportunity to explore a series of short stories from the nineteenth, twentieth and twenty-first centuries, including The Adventures of Sherlock Holmes by Sir Arthur Conan Doyle. Assessment in Key Stage Three is measured against the United Learning Key Performance Indicators (KPIs), which are the essential skills our students require for G.C.S.E study and beyond. At the end of the year, students undertake their Key Stage Three examinations, provided by Edexcel. Again, these help to lay the foundations for the skills required at G.C.S.E.

At Central, we begin preparations for G.C.S.E English in Year 9. In Key Stage Four, current Year 11 students follow the Eduqas G.C.S.E courses for English Language and English Literature. Years 9 and 10 have moved to follow the Edexcel specification for both courses, as we believe this will be more accessible for our students and ultimately improve their chances of success in the years to come. Our curriculum meets the needs of the new G.C.S.E requirements set out in 2015. The key points of the new G.C.S.E courses are as follows:

 

New grading scale

A new grading scale of 9 to 1 is now used, with 9 being the top grade, which is reserved for the top 10% of students in the entire country. Last summer, we had six individuals from the departing Year 11 who came out with the highest grade in English – a phenomenal achievement considering the national uncertainty surrounding the new G.C.S.E criteria. In the new system, a grade 4 is recognised as a “pass”, whilst a grade 5 is recognised as a “good pass”.

 

Assessment entirely by exam

Assessment will be by external examination at the end of the course. Tiered papers have been removed resulting in all students sitting the same examination papers. Students will be required to sit a total of four examinations; two for English Language and two for English Literature. To help students prepare, they will complete two full sets of Pre-Public Examinations (PPEs or mocks) for English Language in November and March and one full set of papers for English Literature in January.

 

New and more demanding content

Following the G.C.S.E reforms, there is now more demanding content, which has been developed by the government and the examination boards. As a result, students must now study a nineteenth century novel, with top sets exploring Robert Louis Stevenson’s The Strange Case of Dr. Jekyll & Mr. Hyde and other sets reading A Christmas Carol by Charles Dickens. All sets study the same Shakespeare play – Romeo & Juliet – but content is again differentiated in terms of the modern play, with top sets reading J.B. Priestley’s An Inspector Calls and other classes studying Willy Russell’s Blood Brothers. Finally, students are expected to explore a wealth of poetry, all of which is outlined in the Eduqas (current Year 11) and Edexcel (Years 9 and 10) anthologies.

At Key Stage Five students follow the AQA English Language and Literature specification.  This course enables students to explore the links between literary and linguistic studies and focuses on the integration of language and literature.  In their studies students will develop their ability to read critically, analyse, evaluate and undertake independent research. 

In Year 12 students will be expected to study a selection of poetry by Carol Ann Duffy, a novel entitled The Lovely Bones and an anthology containing a range of texts about the city of Paris.  Assessment will be through discursive essays, re-creative writing and commentary writing.

In Year 13 students will be expected to study Tennessee Williams’s tragic play A Streetcar Named Desire and F.Scott Fitzgerald’s The Great Gatsby.  They will also be expected to undertake a personal investigation exploring a specific theme or technique in both literary and non-literary discourse.  Assessment will once again be through discursive essays, re-creative writing and commentary writing.

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