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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. The English Language and English Literature courses are assessed solely through two final exams in the summer of Year 11. There is also a Spoken Language 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:

  • Shakespeare: Romeo and Juliet
  • Modern text: Lord of the Flies or An Inspector Calls
  • Poetry: all students study the AQA Poetry Anthology
  • 19th Century Novel: Pride and Prejudice or Great Expectations or Frankenstein

All students also study Unseen Poetry to further develop their skills and understanding.

The Year 10 exams in April will be on Romeo and Juliet and the Modern text as well as on Language skills (reading literary 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 key assessments, students will be given teacher comments and a grade to indicate how well she is doing. Once a term she will receive a standardised Data Capture grade based on key assessments or English examinations.

What should I expect my daughter to 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 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. (Miss Cottle from September 2024.)

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?

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 analytical skills; to argue with precision, listening and responding 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

Ms Renganathan and the English team

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