Head of Department: Ms R Perkins
To study English is to study life – how we think, feel and behave in many different situations. It asks us profound questions about what it is to be human, about what we value and hold most dear. It is also a technical subject, where the study of language is explored in forensic detail. Mostly, it’s about discovering new worlds, new ideas and learning to develop strong, compelling arguments. The skills learned in English are critical. They help students across all their subjects and prepare them for life beyond school in personal, professional and social relationships.
Here at Claremont, we have a dynamic department which has been recognised by Ofsted who commented that our students perform ‘exceptionally well’ in our last inspection. Our Challenge Partners review in 2023 noted: “The lessons were facilitated by staff with excellent subject knowledge meaning staff are confident in their delivery and students feel comfortable to ask questions and develop understanding.”
We teach English Language and Literature to support all students to become confident, clear, empathetic communicators in all aspects of their lives. A significant number of our students come to us with English as an Additional Language and we work hard to ensure that all students leave with the best possible levels of fluency in English, as speakers, readers and writers. We want to embed a curiosity about life fuelled through reading texts from different cultures, time periods and genres. We also want all our students to gain a high level of cultural capital through the study of English and strong technical standards in formal written English.
We work towards two GCSEs which all students will sit:
AQA English Language
AQA English Literature
Key Stage 3
We teach a range of texts from diverse authors to develop an enthusiasm for reading. Students have dedicated time for reading once a week. We develop the skills from KS2 of decoding, inference, summarising, synthesising information from various sources, oracy and creative writing. Catch-up interventions are organized with students who did not achieve the required level in KS2 and with boys who are weak readers.
Assessments: Literature: writing up to three paragraph essays. Language: A KS3 version of AQA English Language Paper 1.
We maintain the diversity of our texts to enthuse and inspire students, including the playscript of Frankenstein, non fiction articles and a focus on The Voice’s Black history month writing competition. Library lessons continue, with guided reading and oracy lessons switching, and some free time to develop good reading habits. Skills from year 7 are built on, and students are introduced to comparative essay writing. Support is given to weaker students with reading. Students are prepared for the foundation KS4 year 9, with secure skills to analyse texts and structure essays. They will have been exposed to a wide range of texts in extract form.
Assessments: Literature: writing up to three paragraph essays. Language: A KS3 version of AQA English Language Paper 2.
We gradually introduce students to the GCSE texts and curriculum, focussing on texts which are both compelling and accessible: Dickens’ A Christmas Carol and the Power and Conflict Poetry Anthology. Language skills from KS3 are built on. New skills to be acquired: the structural analysis of extracts, evaluation skills, being more purposeful in creative writing and the application of GCSE mark schemes.
Students will have a secure knowledge of Language Paper 1 at the end of Y9. Diversity is intro- duced in the choice of extracts for Language Paper 1.
Assessments: Literature: assessments based upon GCSE exam-style questions. Language: KS3 version of AQA English Language Paper 1.
Key Stage 4
At Key Stage 4 pupils will build on knowledge and skills from Key Stage 3. Topics taught are in line with the AQA English Language and Literature specifications and provide an excellent foundation for those wanting to study any subject at A Level, including English Literature. Throughout years 10 and 11, we focus on acquiring and building knowledge of core Literature texts and Language skills. A very strong focus is placed upon extended writing in class. Pupils have their own copies of GCSE Literature texts and learn how to explore the texts, and the societies that produced them, in detail. They have opportunities to annotate, examine, explore and understand a wide range of literature across poetry, prose and drama.
The skills we expect our pupils to gain are a knowledge of topic specific content, confident and perceptive reading, widened vocabulary, cultural and historical capital, exam technique, extended writing, analytical skills and collaboration. This will help students become well rounded individuals with knowledge and understanding that are transferable to everyday life.
Course and Exam information:
- The exam board we follow is AQA (9-1) in English Language and English Literature.
- All assessment at GCSE is by examination at the end of Year 11.
- There is no coursework.
- English Literature has two papers: 1.Shakespeare and the Nineteenth Century Novel and 2. Modern Texts and Poetry. Paper 1 is one hour and 45 minutes and worth 64 marks; Paper 2 is two hours and 15 minutes and worth 96 marks.
- English Language has two papers: Explorations in Creative Reading and Writing and Writers’ Viewpoints and Perspectives. Each paper is one hour 45 minutes and worth 80 marks.
- Students are also assessed by their teacher for a Spoken Language component. They receive a separate grade for this which does not affect their GCSE grade. We undertake this assessment in Year 10.
- Students sit four exam papers at the end of year 11.
- GCSEs are awarded under the 9-1 grading system. There are no tiers; all students sit exactly the same exam papers.
Paper 1: Shakespeare and the Nineteenth Century Novel
Shakespeare, Macbeth; Charles Dickens, A Christmas Carol
Paper 2: Modern Texts and Poetry
B. Priestley, An Inspector Calls; Power and Conflict Poetry Anthology; Unseen Poetry
Paper 1: Explorations in Creative Reading and Writing
Extracts from a range of novels and short stories from the twentieth and twenty-first century.
Paper 2: Writers’ Viewpoints and Perspectives
Extracts from non-fiction (articles, biographies, letters, travel writing) written in the nineteenth, twentieth and twenty-first centuries.
Students will sit assessments for individual Literature topics and parts of Language papers at the end of term.
Students will sit the full English Language Paper 1 in the Autumn term.
At the end of Year 10, students will sit full English Language Paper 2 and English Literature Paper 2.
Students will sit the full English Language Paper 1 and English Literature Paper 1 in their October mock exams.
Students will sit the full English Language Paper 2 and English Literature Paper 2 in their February mock exams.
The full specification for the AQA GCSE English Literature can be found here:
The full specification for the AQA GCSE English Language can be found here:
There are various resources available to support pupils:
- Free online Resources including Litcharts, Spark Notes and Cliffs Notes.
- Intervention lessons – these will be offered to all Year 11 pupils and some targeted Year 10 pupils.
- Teachers - students can come and see their teacher outside of lesson time with any queries or questions.
- Revision text books – available to purchase from the School Shop.
- Websites – “BBC Bitesize” and “English tutor”.
- “Mr Bruff” videos on YouTube.
Key Stage 5
We have a very strong team of teachers at A level, with different areas of interest and expertise. Our focus is to produce independent, resilient, well-read young people who are ready for the next steps. We have an exciting programme of modern American fiction, poetry and drama, plus staples from the English heritage including Shakespeare, pre-1900s poetry and Victorian literature. Students learn how to research, write and present complex ideas. We also have a programme of events to complement their studies such as writing competitions, theatre trips and lectures.
All Year 7 and 8 students have timetabled Library lessons during which they will explore the Library, keep a Reading Log and undertake various reading projects.
We have organised author’s visits to the school, including one in February 2023 of the author Patience Agbabi.
We run a range of clubs at lunchtime and after school, including Creative Writing, Crafts and the Courtroom, in which students can play-act roles within a court of law.
We organise events to celebrate World Book Day, including Bake-a-Book sale and an Illustration competition.
Year 7 and 8 competition winners at the House of Commons with Dawn Butler MP
Years 9, 10 and 11 at the Globe Theatre, London
Year 12 students in the West End to see Othello
English is an essential GCSE for all students. We also encourage students to consider English as a stepping stone for careers within:
- Civil Service
- Business Studies