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What is the English GCSE course?

Students study for two qualifications: English Language and English Literature. Both are accredited by the AQA exam board and full details can be found at All students have a detailed breakdown of the course in their course booklets, issued to them at the start of Year 10. The English Language and English Literature course are each assessed solely through two final exams in the summer of Year 11. There is also a speaking and listening assessment which does not form part of the final English Language grade but is reported separately.

What texts are students studying for GCSE?

The key skills assessed for the English Language exams are:

  • Reading non-fiction
  • Reading Literary fiction
  • Comparing texts
  • Writing a description
  • Writing a narrative
  • Writing an argument

There are four texts prescribed for the Literature exam:

  • Shakepeare: Romeo and Juliet
  • Modern text: Lord of the Flies or An Inspector Calls
  • Poetry: all students study the AQA anthology as well as a collection of poetry selected by the class teacher
  • 19th Century Novel: Pride and Prejudice or Great Expectations or Jane Eyre

All students also study two challenging development texts to further develop their skills and understanding. 

The Year 10 exams in April will be on the modern text and on Language skills (reading non-fiction and writing a description). In the Autumn term of Year 11 students will sit two mock exams, one on Language and one on Literature, and there will be two further mock exams in the Spring of Year 11.

How are the termly assessment grades arrived at?

For most assessments students will be given teacher comments and a grade to indicate how well she is doing. Once a term she will receive a 'Current Performance' grade based on all her work in that term, including homework assessments, work completed in class, contributions to class discussion and collaborative work. 

What should I expect my daughter be doing outside her lessons to achieve highly?

Your daughter will be set regular homework by her English teachers. To do well in English, though, she also needs to be regularly revising and actively developing her skills. It is crucial that she puts together a thoroughly developed set of notes from the lessons so that she can refer back to these as necessary. Ideally, she should spend time after each lesson looking back on her notes and refining them, identifying if there are any areas she doesn’t understand and working to fill these. She should also spend time practising composing short pieces of descriptive and persuasive writing as this will provide invaluable preparation for the English Language exam.

How can I support my daughter at home?

Above all, do your best to talk to your daughter about the course and what they are enjoying and finding challenging. If you can, read the texts they are studying yourself and talk about them. Don’t worry about having a ‘literary discussion’ – just talking about a text on any level will help the student to make connections and identify problems with the text. Do get your hands on films and audiobooks of the set texts and watch them together or listen at home or in the car. Encourage them to continue reading as widely as possible and, in particular, to read and discuss non-fiction texts – for example, in the news and features sections of quality newspapers.

What about text books?

We recommend using the Oxford text books for additional home study. These are:

AQA GCSE English Language: Student Book 1 (0198340745)

AQA GCSE English Language: Student Book 2 (0198340753)

AQA GCSE English Literature: Student Book (0198340761)

What can my daughter do to get further support?

Your daughter should talk to her teacher in the first instance, but can also contact Miss Lau (responsible for KS4 English) for further support. We will be running weekly support sessions on a Friday lunchtime – these will be widely advertised in school. We also have a group of Year 12 students who are keen to provide additional mentoring support for students and we would be happy to put you in touch.

I’m concerned about something in English or I would like more information – how can I contact my daughter’s teacher?

Please contact the Head of English, Mrs Renganathan, with as much detail as possible on

Should my daughter be considering taking English Literature A Level?

As you will know, the structure of A Levels changed this year and your daughter will be taking a linear course, with all exams at the end of Year 13. We are very excited about the possibilities this change will bring and have designed a course which is challenging, stimulating and creative. We are keen to attract as many of our finest GCSE English students onto the course as possible and we would urge everyone to consider it.  Studying English Literature is not just about becoming a more competent reader. At Advanced Level, the subject enables you to develop sharp and  forensic evaluative skills; to argue with precision, listening and respond to the arguments of others; and to understand the relationship between literary texts and the world which produces them.  English Literature is rightly seen as a mark of an analytical and precise mind by universities and employers and can lead to a very wide variety of careers and professions.

Thank you for your support

Mrs Renganathan and the English team

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