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Welcome to the English Department

We aim to improve our students' skills in reading, writing, listening and speaking from Year 7 to the end of Year 13.  You can join in the process at home through encouraging reading for pleasure, supporting your Key Stage 3 child in their Home Learning Projects and just discussing the events of the day when you are together in the evening.  The need for reading at home is especially important given the shift to examination only at GCSE and the emphasis now placed on texts from the eighteenth, nineteenth and twentieth centuries.  We, of course, will be happy to recommend books to read and our well-stocked library and knowledgeable librarian are excellent assets in the process.  In Years 7, 8 and 9 students study a whole novel in class.

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Years 7 and 8

In your child’s first two years, he or she will study a range of both fiction and non-fiction texts. The writing outcomes will be varied and are intended to prepare them for the demands of GCSE English Language and Literature. Year 7 begins with an introductory unit on poetry, revising skills taught at primary school but introducing more challenging works. Year 8 begins with the study of ‘Of Mice and Men’ ’, with an assessment exploring Steinbeck’s presentation of inequality in 1930s America. By the end of Year 8 students should be confident readers of a range of texts and be able to write in a variety of formal and creative forms. Both Years 7 and 8 culminate in an end-of-year examination.

Year 9

Year 9 is a bridge towards GCSE but we still want to instil in students a love of literature. The year begins with the study of ‘Journey’s End’ which dovetails with the History curriculum and trip to the trenches in the winter term. We later read ‘The Catcher in the Rye’ and explore the ways in which texts reflect the time and place in which they were written. Year 9 also culminates in an end-of-year examination; it strongly resembles the format of the final GCSE examinations so that the students end the year having a clear sense of their strengths and their way forward.

Years 10 and 11

The two years of Key Stage 4 are dedicated to success at GCSE in both Language and Literature.  We follow the AQA specifications and prepare the students for the two examinations each of the subjects require.  There is a good deal of reading involved and we encourage students to purchase their own copies of the texts so that they can annotate them freely and do follow-up study at home following on from work done in class.  Your son or daughter will know the specific texts chosen, but for English Literature they will include a play by Shakespeare, a nineteenth-century novel, a collection of poems and either a modern novel or a modern play.  A further new aspect of the Literature examinations is that they will be ‘closed book’ – in other words, the students will need to use quotations and evidence on the texts from memory as they will not have them in the examination hall with them.  Any support at home in memorising key quotations will pay dividends.  For English Language, the ‘unseen’ passages that the examinations will include are likewise spread across the eighteenth-, nineteenth- and twentieth-centuries and so, of course, wider reading from texts of these time periods will stand the students in good stead.

Years 12 and 13

We offer A-level English Literature to the sixth-form and study the Edexcel specification.  In both Years 12 and 13 the students complete two units.  One is coursework where one novel is studied in depth in class, with a second text being read independently. This leads to an extended essay comparing the two novels. One of the examinations requires students to link two novels studied in class and explore their similarities and differences; another examination requires students to apply these skills to a collection of poetry. A study of a Shakespeare play and a modern drama completes the A ‘level course. The assessment foci for all four units include the language, structure and forms of the texts, but also their historical context of production as well as the contemporary contexts of reception.  Deep understanding is a core element to all four units of the A-level: any conversations at home where you ask your son or daughter to link what is studied in class to something read – or even watched – at home can only reinforce this knowledge.


For further information, please contact Miss J Creaney jcreaney@archbishops.kent.sch.uk