English & Media Key Stage 4

English and Media Department Overview

Key Stage 4

Exam Board for GCSE English Literature and Language is AQA

Year 9 Foundation Year

Year 9 is a very important year, as it is the year in which you begin study of content that relates directly to the GCSE English Language and Literature courses. It is imperative to us that all students enter the GCSE courses with a strong foundation of skills that will allow them to succeed. In Year 9, we study more units than in Year 7 or 8- a reflection of the jump up, and the intensity of the year. As with Year 7 and 8 we cover multiple reading, writing and speaking and listening units. A key difference to Year 9 is that students study their first Shakespeare text. All lessons are tailored to the class’s (and individuals’) needs. We encourage our students to fully engage and enjoy all aspects of English.

Unit 1 – 19th Century Literature

This unit involves study of a 19th Century canonical text and an assessed comparative essay. Students study one class text such as ‘A Christmas Carol’ and then develop a series of links between this text and another of their choosing. Students are given guidance on features that they may wish to include in their comparison, including character, setting, mood, and atmosphere. They may also explore language, structure and context across the two texts.

Unit 2: Poetry

Students either focus on the study of a particular poet (for example Seamus Heaney or Thomas Hardy) or poems relating to a particular theme.   Students consider how and why the poets have written and structured their poems. Students develop comparison skills learnt in Year 8; we challenging them to find thematic, structural and linguistic links or differences- and to consider the effect of those differences or similarities. As well as analytical work students will respond to a given topic or theme and create an anthology of poems, allowing them to express themselves creatively. The unit outcome is a comparative essay of two unseen poems.

Unit 3: Prose from other cultures

We approach the prose more from a GCSE point of view in Year 9, looking at representation of characters, ideas and themes in texts from other cultures (e.g. John Steinbeck’s ‘Of Mice and Men’). We support students to look at the text analytically and critically, considering how writers have used language and structure. As well as building up analytical skills we also want students to be inspired by the texts we read and encourage every student to have a creative response to the text. We challenge the students to use an idea, theme or writing style as a basis for a piece of creative writing. Student produce one pieces of formally assessed work, with a focus on analysing character or theme.

Unit 4: Fiction Writing

A creative start to the year that gives the students a challenge from the start. Students study monologues e.g. Alan Bennett’s ‘Cream Cracker under the Settee’ and/ or tall stories, such as Roald Dahl’s short stories. Students study and embrace the style features involved in monologues and tall stories and replicate them into a piece of creative writing of their own. The assessment involves writing to imagine and entertain in a chosen form, e.g. diary or monologue.

Unit 5: Drama and Spoken Language

Students study a drama text by Shakespeare and link this to spoken language and its effect on the English language. As well as studying the language, students look beyond the immediate to understand themes, characters, humour, comedy, despair etc. This unit allows them to approach Shakespeare in Years 10 and 11 with confidence and a more vivid understanding of key elements of dramatic texts.   

Unit 6: Media

This is a unit which is thoroughly enjoyed by students and often creates a lot of discussion. Students are encouraged to look critically at the modern world of media, and consider different aspects of media and their influences and effects e.g. gaming, reality TV. Half of this unit is ICT based, with students creating a professional looking magazine cover and article in which they express their ideas.

English and Media

The English Department follows AQA 8700 for language and 8702 for literature. The two qualifications are studied simultaneously as generic ‘English’; the study of literature will prompt investigations into language and literature texts will be used to exemplify points of language.

In terms of novels studied over the two years, Lord of The Flies, Jekyll and Hyde, and Animal Farm are taught and Blood Brothers, An Inspector Calls and various plays by Shakespeare are studied as dramatic texts. These texts are studied for examination purposes, but they are also catalysts for extended pieces of writing, as required by the exam board.

Creative writing plays an important role in the curriculum, with students writing recreations, stories and pieces of non-fiction under controlled conditions throughout the two-year course. This helps to prepare students for the final examinations, in which they have to produce a range of fiction and non-fiction creative pieces.

Students have the opportunity to study poetry in considerable depth. A cluster of poems is taught to students under the themes of ‘Power and Conflict’ and ‘Love and Relationships’. Students also develop their ability to analyse and compare unseen poems. This is a challenging and rewarding element of the course that rewards genuine engagement with the concepts that are explored in the anthology.

Students who are eligible will complete Media GCSE in Year 11. This is the culmination of a three-year course, involving the analysis and production of media material.