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English Language (GCSE) and English Literature (GCSE)

Head of Department: Mrs V Edmans

What is English?

English is a two-year course which leads to two qualifications: GCSE English Language and GCSE English Literature.

 GCSE English Language allows students to demonstrate their ability to:

Ÿ use English in real life contexts

Ÿ explore the way meaning is conveyed

Ÿ use an investigative and analytical approach to language topics, drawing on personal experience.

GCSE English Literature requires candidates to explore texts from a personal perspective and offers an experience of:

Ÿ literature today

Ÿ literature globally

Ÿ the literary heritage

Ÿ literary criticism and analysis

All work is assessed in terminal exams at the end of year 11, two each for GCSE English Language and GCSE English Literature.

What skills will I develop?

During the course pupils will be expected to:

Ÿ improve their skills in reading, writing, speaking and listening

Ÿ learn to write and speak fluent, accurate and appropriate English

Ÿ read and respond to a range of literature, both fiction and non-fiction.

 What syllabuses will I follow?

 Ÿ AQA English Language (Course Code: 8700)

Ÿ AQA English Literature (Course Code: 8702)

How will I be assessed?

English Language - AQA

There are two exams:

Paper 1: Explorations in Creative Reading and Writing

1 hour 45 minute exam - 50% of the GCSE

Paper 2: Writers’ Viewpoints and Perspectives

1 hour 45 minute exam - 50% of the GCSE

Students also need to complete one speaking and listening task which, although compulsory, does not count toward the overall grade.

 English Literature – AQA

There are two exams:

Paper 1: Shakespeare and the 19th-Century novel

  • Shakespeare – all classes study Macbeth
  • The 19th-century novel – e.g. Jekyll and Hyde, A Christmas Carol, Frankenstein

1 hour 45 minute exam - 40% of the GCSE.

 Paper 2: Modern texts and poetry

  • Modern texts – e.g. Lord of the Flies or An Inspector Calls,
  • Poetry – from the AQA Anthology, Power and Conflict
  • Unseen poetry.

2 hour 15 minute exam - 60% of the GCSE.

Increasing understanding

Pupils can make considerable progress in English by taking care with all work set. Homework feeds into developing skills and, if tackled conscientiously, will contribute directly to learning.

When studying set texts, pupils are advised to read other work by the same author. Reading non-fiction is a key National Curriculum strand and we advise pupils to read quality journalism to help their background knowledge of informative language as well as to increase their awareness of issues for discussion. 

Response to poetry (classic, contemporary and multi-cultural) is another key National Curriculum strand and wider reading of poetry is therefore also helpful.

Further information about the courses can be found on the AQA website:


Q:        What is AQA Step Up to English?

A:        The AQA Step Up to English course is designed to cater to the needs of students who either might find it hard to perform at GCSE level or those who need some extra support in order to work incrementally towards GCSE. 

Q         Is Step Up to English one of the options available to all students?

A:        No, it is not.  Students who the English Department feel meet the criteria above are identified from the current Year Nine cohort and are then invited to join one of the two Additional English groups from the start of Year Ten.  

Q:        When were the invitations to join one of the groups sent out?

A          The invitations were sent out in mid-January.

Q:        Can students decide not to accept the invitation to join an Additional English group?

A:         Yes, certainly.  It is however important to point out that it may not be possible for a student to join one of the groups at a later date, should he or she change their mind.

Q:        Why are the groups called “Additional English” groups?

A:        Because as well as the timetabled English lessons that everyone in Year Ten has, students in these groups receive additional English lessons on their timetables when they would otherwise be studying a Modern Foreign Language GCSE. 

Q:        Are students entered for Step Up to English entered for both English GCSEs as well?

A:        Yes, the great majority of them are.  Students in Additional English groups typically spend the first two terms of Year Ten preparing for Step Up to English assessments that are completed before Easter.  From that moment on, the focus shifts to GCSE English Language and GCSE English Literature.  As its name suggests, and as indicated above, one of the key purposes of the Step Up course is to serve as incremental preparation for higher level work.  Much of the content of Step Up to English is similar to GCSE English e.g. 19th century texts, narrative and transactional writing. As a result, students moving from Step Up to GCSE find that they are already familiar with many of the key skills required. 

Q:        Do the additional English lessons continue in Year 11 as well?

A:        Yes.  Even though the great majority of students will complete the Step Up to English qualification by the end of the Easter term in Year Ten, students have additional English lessons throughout Key Stage 4.  As detailed above, this additional lesson time is used to prepare classes for the two separate GCSE English exam courses.

 Q:        Where does Step Up to English sit in terms of progression?

A:        Step Up to English is an Entry Level qualification which sits below GCSE. Progression through the

levels is as follows:

Entry 1 - Entry 2 Entry 3 - Level 1 (GCSE grades 1-3) - Level 2 (GCSE grades 4-9)       

Q:        Is further information available online?

A:        Yes, via the AQA website -

Q:        Who can I contact if I have any further questions about the structure and content of the AQA Step Up to English course?

A:        Please contact Mr Walker –

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