Faculty Intent

For the English and Drama Faculty, one of our main aims is to not only deliver a knowledge-rich curriculum where students are supported and challenged in order to make the best possible progress, but also to foster a lifelong passion for reading by giving them the opportunity to engage with a wide range of texts.

Students study a range of fiction and non-fiction, covering a variety of genres and literary periods. By looking at English across time, we are able to not only study the evolution of language, but also how changing social and historical contexts have influenced literature and its impact on the audiences of their time. In turn, this helps students to consider the way we perceive our modern world, and the Catholic values that we uphold. The study of texts is also used to develop writing and literacy skills from the start of KS3 building a strong foundation of skills for further study.

Course Overview

  • OCR A Level English Language (Course code H470)
  • AQA A Level English Literature (Course code 7712) Core Content: Love Through the Ages & Modern Times
  • GCSE English Language (Course code 8700)
  • GCSE English Literature (Course code 8702)

Course Details

Key stage 5

English Language

A Level English Language focuses on the study of a variety of non-literary texts to explore the language choices made in the context of production and how these effect the contexts of reception. Students also engage in some linguistic theoretical approaches, are able to write creatively about language issues, and have the opportunity to explore their own areas of interest in independent study.

Paper 1: Exploring Language


  • Written exam: 2.5 hours
  • 80 marks
  • 40% of A Level

Section A: Language Under the Microscope – Analysis of 1 unseen text.

Section B: Writing about a Topical Language Issue – 500-word piece of creative writing about a language issue.

Section C: Comparing and Contrasting Texts – Comparison of two unseen texts of different modes.

Paper 2: Dimensions of Linguistic Variation

  • Written exam: 2.5 hours
  • 80 marks
  • 40% of A Level

Section A: Child Language acquisition – Analysis of an unseen transcript of children interacting with others.

Section B: Language in the Media – Analysis of an unseen media text

Section C: Language Change – comparison of how language has changed over time through the analysis of two unseen texts from different time periods.

Non-exam assessment: Independent Language Research

Coursework comprises a 2500-word investigation of spoken or written language through a theoretical lens, and a 1000-word Academic Poster.


  • 40 marks
  • 20% of A Level
  • Internally assessed and externally verified

A Level English Literature:

The course allows students a natural progression from GCSE, developing and enhancing core reading and analytical skills. Students can enjoy a range of genres and forms across different literary periods, as well as opportunities to explore their own areas of interest in independent study.

Paper 1: Love Through the Ages

Core texts: Othello, The Great Gatsby and AQA Love Through the Ages pre-1900 Anthology


  • Written exam: 3 hours
  • 75 marks
  • 40% of A level

Section A: Shakespeare. One passage-based question with linked essay

Section B: Unseen Poetry: compulsory essay question on two unseen poems

Section C: Comparing texts: one thematic essay question linking two texts

Paper 2: Texts in shared contexts (Option 2 Modern Times: Literature from 1945 to the present day)

Core Texts: A streetcar Names Desire, The Handmaid’s Tale and Feminine Gospels


  • Written exam: 2 hours 30 mins
  • 75 marks
  • 40% of A level

Section A: Set Texts. One essay question on set text

Section B: Contextual linking. One compulsory question on an unseen extract and one question linking two texts

Non-exam assessment: Independent critical study: texts across time

Coursework comprises of a comparative critical study of two texts, at least one of which must have been written pre-1900. One extended essay 2500 words) and a bibliography


  • 50 marks
  • 20% of A level
  • Internally assessed and externally verified

Key Stage 4

GCSE English Language and GCSE English Literature

The English Language GCSE will assess students’ ability in reading, writing and spoken language, exposing students to both fiction and non-fiction The English Literature GCSE provides the opportunity to read a range of texts from across literary periods, analysing them in detail for how meaning is conveyed by an author through a range of methods and considering the impact of social and historical contexts.

English Language

Paper 1: Explorations in Creative Reading and Writing

Section A: Reading. Students are provided with an extract from an unseen fiction text and will be asked a series of questions that assess their skills in inference and deduction, evaluation, language analysis and understanding of how structure is used to create meaning.

Section B: Writing. Students will choose from a task for writing to describe or narrate and will be assessed on their ability to write coherently, structure work effectively and correctly use spelling, grammar and punctuation.


  • Written exam: 1 hour 45 minutes
  • 80 marks
  • 50% of GCSE

Paper 2: Writers’ viewpoints and Perspectives

Section A: Reading. Students will be provided with two non-fiction texts and will be asked a series of questions that will assess their ability to synthesise information, analyse effects of language and techniques and compare author’s viewpoints.

Section B: students will be asked to present a viewpoint for a target audience in a specified form and will be assessed on their ability to write coherently, structure work effectively and correctly use spelling, grammar and punctuation.


  • Written exam: 1 hour 45 minutes
  • 80 marks
  • 50% of GCSE

Non-Examination Assessment: Spoken Language

Students will be given a separate endorsement for Spoken Language that will be assessed as a pass, merit or distinction. They will be assessed on their ability to present and deliver a speech on a topic of their choice using standard English,  and on how they respond to questions and feedback.


  • Task or topic is set/negotiated between teacher and student
  • Marked internally and verified externally
  • Separate endorsement (0% weighting of GCSE)

English Literature

Paper 1: Shakespeare and the 19th Century Novel

Core texts: Macbeth and A Christmas Carol

Section A: students will answer one question on the play studied. They will be provided with an extract from the play, and then must write about the play as a whole

Section B: students will answer one question on the novel studied. They will be provided with an extract from the novel, and then must write about the novel as a whole.


  • Written exam: 1 hour 45 minutes
  • 64 marks
  • 40% of GCSE

Paper 2: Modern texts and poetry

Core texts: Lord of the Flies and the Love and Relationships cluster of poems from the AQA Anthology

Section A Modern texts: students will answer one question from a choice of two on Lord of the Flies

Section B Poetry: students answer one comparative question on one named poem from the anthology and one other poem of their choice from the same cluster.

Section C Unseen poetry: students will answer one question on an unseen poem, and one question comparing this poem with a second unseen poem.


  • Written exam: 2 hour 15 minutes
  • 96 marks
  • 60% of GCSE

Key stage 3

We see the key stage 3 curriculum as an exciting opportunity to build on the skills established at key stage 2, while moving students forward to prepare them for some of the more challenging skills, concepts and forms of writing expected of them at GCSE. Students are prepared for four central areas: reading, writing, spoken language and grammar and vocabulary.

Reading: students will read from a range of fiction and non- fiction texts, including novels, poetry and plays covering a range of genres, historical periods and cultural contexts. We explore the ways in which language, themes and values have evolved over time, as well as developing students’ ability to analyse a text. Students will be introduced to new vocabulary, subject specific terminology and the skills to help them explore how an author has created meaning to suit the context in which the text is written.

One lesson a fortnight is a dedicated ‘reading for pleasure’ lesson where we hope to enrich students in their engagement and enjoyment of the written word.

Writing: students will be provided with the opportunities to develop their writing skills with greater accuracy, fluency and with an increasing sense of how to effectively engage their audience through consciously crafting their work. In order to help them achieve this, our curriculum looks at:

  • Developing a range of more sophisticated vocabulary
  • Accuracy of paragraphing, whole text cohesion and how meaning can be created through the structure of the text
  • Developing the use of more sophisticated forms of punctuation
  • Carefully selecting the forms, techniques and vocabulary used to convey meaning and audience response
  • The ability to plan, draft and proof read work effectively
  • The ability to write for a range of different purposes and audiences
  • Identifying the differences between spoken and written language, including variations in formal and informal registers, the use of Standard English and how these have evolved over time.

Year 7 topics:

  • Silas Marner by George Eliot
  • Persuasive writing
  • History of the English Language
  • A Midsummer Night’s Dream by William Shakespeare
  • Poetry Across Time

Year 8 Topics

  • To Kill a Mockingbird – the play
  • Poems from Different Cultures
  • Dystopian Literature and non-fiction
  • The Gothic and The Woman in Black by Susan Hill

Year 9 Topics

  • Creative writing and non-fiction
  • Richard III by William Shakespeare
  • The Book Thief by Markus Zusak
  • Introduction to Love and Relationships poetry

Enrichment opportunities:

As a faculty, we feel that is very important that we offer as many enrichment opportunities as possible to help develop our students’ cultural capital, and also bring the texts we study and the skills we strive to develop into a ‘real world’ context. These opportunities include:

  • Theatre trips
  • Trips to places of cultural and historical heritage that link to texts being covered
  • Unique experiences, such as poetry reading in Parliament
  • Competitions and dedicated lessons to celebrate events such as World Book Day
  • Reading Club
  • Speaking competitions
  • Study Days

Useful links

Key stage 3

Bitesize - https://www.bbc.co.uk/bitesize/subjects/z3kw2hv

Shakespeare Learning Zone - https://www.rsc.org.uk/shakespeare-learning-zone

George Eliot  - https://www.activityvillage.co.uk/george-eliot, https://www.georgeeliot.org/

Book recommendations - https://www.lovereading4kids.co.uk/


Exam Board dedicated page - https://www.aqa.org.uk/subjects/english/gcse

Mr Bruff GCSE revision  - https://www.youtube.com/user/mrbruff

For social and historical context information, and critical responses to Macbeth and A Christmas Carol - https://www.bl.uk/

Sparknotes to support analysis of characters and themes, and provides modern day translations of Shakespeare plays - https://www.sparknotes.com/