English Key Stage 3
At Derby Pride Academy, the KS3 curriculum is delivered in stage, not age, teaching groups. In English, we focus closely on providing our students with the required Reading, Writing and Spoken Language skills at KS3 to prepare them for their core GCSE English at KS4.
On entry, students undertake a Baseline Assessment, which is used to identify strengths and set targets for improvement. This enables staff to focus on specific ways for students to make progress.
The academic year begins with a focus on Basic Literacy and improving basic skills to support progress across the curriculum. Preparation then begins for GCSE text study with a strong focus on improving reading skills. Students use a range of reading strategies to analyse language, meaning and the relationships between texts and context. This leads to a study of modern texts where context is developed to include textual references and direct quotation.
The second half of the academic year returns to writing, although this is more closely linked to GCSE preparation in using specific vocabulary and punctuation for effect and varying texts to suit different audiences.
English Key Stage 4
During Key Stage Four, we continue to build upon the Reading, Writing and Spoken Language skills that students have developed throughout Key Stage Three. We study a variety of fiction and non-fiction texts, both contemporary and from the literary heritage, thus enabling students to become critical readers and ensuring they are able to produce a wide variety of written responses. The syllabus is split between English Language and English Literature.
In GCSE English Language students read a wide range of texts from the 19th, 20th and 21st centuries, including literature and literary non-fiction as well as other writing such as reviews and journalism. They are asked to read and evaluate texts critically and make comparisons between texts. Additionally, they look at how to summarise and synthesise information or ideas from texts.
In terms of writing, students use knowledge gained from wide reading to inform and improve their own texts, writing effectively and coherently using Standard English appropriately. Students aim to use grammar correctly and punctuate and spell accurately. Within their lessons, students are encouraged to acquire and apply a wide vocabulary, alongside a knowledge and understanding of grammatical terminology, and linguistic conventions for reading, writing and spoken language.
There are two AQA English Language exam papers at GCSE. Paper 1 looks at ‘Explorations in Creative Writing.’ Students will be asked to analyse a literature text as well as writing a descriptive piece. Paper 2 looks at ‘Writers’ Viewpoints and Perspectives.’ Students analyse a non-fiction text, and present a viewpoint through a piece of writing.
Students also look at presenting verbally and discussing as part of the Spoken Language aspect of the course, although this is not ultimately assessed.
As well as developing the skills in analysing, comparing and evaluating texts that they have used at Key Stage 3, students examine four key components in GCSE English Literature. They work with a Shakespeare play, seeking to find meaning in the language and the structure. In their AQA English Literature Paper 1, they will be asked to analyse an extract, as well as relating it to the play as a whole.
In addition, students look at a 19th Century novel. They take a voyage into how linguistic choices, structural choices and other aspects contribute to the overall meanings within the text. Similarly to Shakespeare, in their exam they will be asked to write about an extract and then the novel as a whole.
The study of poetry is another key component of English Literature. Students work with an anthology of poems, and are asked to analyse and compare poems in their English Literature Paper 2. This paper also asks them to investigate an unseen poem. This makes it essential that they are able to consider how the poet has conveyed their ideas.
Finally, students also read a modern text, either prose or drama. In their examination, students answer a question about said text, making it vital that they are aware of the central ideas, themes and characters.