By the end of KS4, pupils will have studied four Shakespeare plays in-depth and a selection of classic texts, seminal world literature, poems and plays. In English, pupils study the foundations of literature, composition, linguistics and rhetoric to deepen their understanding of more complex texts and to support their own creative, transactional and analytical writing. We follow the Edexcel exam board for English language and English Literature. Below is a summary of how our Lower school curriculum pathway continues into GCSE study.
Reading for Meaning – Texts are prescribed at GCSE, but students continue to examine challenging universal themes, events and ideas. Poetry and non-fiction are still woven through each unit so that students are regularly encountering language in all its forms; from the informative and rhetorical to the concentrated and distilled. Debates students have had at KS3 around gender, power, religion, class and persecution are a solid foundation on which our in-depth study of ‘The Merchant of Venice’, ‘Journey’s End, ‘Animal Farm,’ ‘A Christmas Carol’ and ‘The Tempest’ build. Students continue to have the opportunity to debate how our texts address arguments that are still ongoing e.g., Human Rights, discrimination, The Cost-of-Living Crisis, war, propaganda and ‘fake news’.
Authorial Methods – At the end of key stage three students have built up a substantial knowledge of literary methods used by writers to create meaning. We use our ‘CCGS Language and Structure Booklet’ from Year 7 all the way through to Year 13, gradually building up and regularly revisiting their knowledge of authorial methods. At key stage 4 they continue to analyse the writer’s craft but are also developing into proficient writers themselves. They have already studied alternative/marginalised viewpoints, experimented with tenses used for effect, used figurative methods such as symbol and foil characters and experimented with more complex narrative viewpoints and perspectives. At GCSE, they can use their writing tools in several creative writing pieces and experiment with new forms such as writing historical fiction and fiction inspired by poetry. By the time students study ‘A’ Level English they will have mastered a complete compendium of the techniques by which writers shape meaning.
Composition – Writing began at KS3 with the imitation of established forms and styles and moved into experimentation and practise of fiction and non-fiction writing. We continue to work on mastery of description, narrative, speeches, open letters, articles, opinion pieces, through the study of their different components. We build on the analytical writing at KS3 that explored character development, arcs, and thematic concerns towards a consideration of alternative viewpoints for GCSE and ‘A’ level. We revisit and deepen our study of rhetoric at KS3 with more considered and nuanced argument of complex themes.
Context - How a text may have been shaped by external social, political and historical forces is a consideration of all texts studied from year 7 to year 13. At KS3 we examined ancient Greece, the Renaissance, the Romantic movement, the Victorian period, American Civil War, The Harlem Renaissance, Post-War and Post-Colonial periods. At GCSE, we return to the Renaissance, Romantic and Victorian periods; but we also learn about the First World War, The Russian Revolution, Communism and Colonialism. This focus on context allows students to gradually build broad knowledge and cultural capital so that they can access not only the texts they are reading; but also, the historicist approaches required in English at KS4 and ‘A’ Level.
Grammar and Vocab – Being proficient in the mechanics of language not only helps students become better writers but also helps students to understand what they have read. A limited vocabulary can be a barrier to comprehension and the articulation of complex ideas, so we place vocabulary and etymology at the heart of learning in English. Grammar drills, common errors and misconceptions are revisited continually until they become automatic and overlearned.