Subject Leader: Miss Hayley Syrett

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What are we studying?

English Language

Paper 1: Explorations in Creative Reading and Writing

The aim of this paper is to engage students in a creative text and inspire them to write creatively themselves by:

Section A - reading a literature fiction text in order to consider how established writers use narrative and descriptive techniques to capture the interest of readers.

Section B - writing their own creative text, inspired by the topic that they have responded to in Section A to demonstrate their narrative and descriptive skills in response to a written prompt, scenario or visual image. The paper will assess in this sequence, AO1, AO2 and AO4 for reading, and AO5 and AO6 for writing.

Section A will be allocated 40 marks, and Section B will be allocated 40 marks to give an equal weighting to the reading and writing tasks.


The source for the reading questions will be a literature fiction text. It will be drawn from either the 20th or the 21st century. Its genre will be prose fiction. It will include extracts from novels and short stories and focus on openings, endings, narrative perspectives and points of view, narrative or descriptive passages, character, atmospheric descriptions and other appropriate narrative and descriptive approaches. As a stimulus for students own writing, there will be a choice of scenario, written prompt or visual image that is related to the topic of the reading text in Section A. The scenario sets out a context for writing with a designated audience, purpose and from that will differ to those specified on Paper 2.

Paper 2: Writers’ Viewpoints and Perspectives

The aim of this paper is to develop students’ insights into how writers have particular viewpoints and perspectives on issues or themes that are important to the way we think and live our lives. It will encourage students to demonstrate their skills by:

Section A - reading two linked sources from different time periods and genres in order to consider how each presents a perspective or viewpoint to influence the reader.

Section B - producing a written text to a specified audience, purpose and form in which they give their own perspective on the theme that has been introduced to them in Section A.

The paper will assess in this sequence, AO1, AO2 and AO3 for reading, and AO5 and AO6 for writing.

Section A will be allocated 40 marks, and Section B will be allocated 40 marks to give an equal weighting to the reading and writing tasks.


The sources for the reading questions will be non-fiction and literary non-fiction texts. They will be drawn from the 19th century, and either the 20th or the 21st century depending on the time period assessed in Paper 1 in each particular series. The combination selected will always provide students with an opportunity to consider viewpoints and perspectives over time. Choice of genre will include high quality journalism, articles, reports, essays, travel writing, accounts, sketches, letters, diaries, autobiography and biographical passages or other appropriate non-fiction and literary non-fiction forms. In Section B, there will be a single writing task related to the theme of Section A. It will specify audience, purpose and form, and will use a range of opinions, statements and writing scenarios to provoke a response.

Non-examination assessment: Spoken Language

The aim of the assessment is to allow students to demonstrate their speaking and listening skills by:

giving a presentation in a formal context. Responding appropriately to questions and to feedback, asking questions themselves to elicit clarification using spoken Standard English. The assessment will be separately endorsed and will cover AO7, AO8 and AO9 for spoken language.


Students will base their presentations on a theme or topic chosen by their teacher with guidance from AQA.

Tasks and standards will be exemplified by AQA. Presentations will be on a formal basis and students will need to respond to questions and feedback from the audience.   In the assessed piece, students will be required to use spoken Standard English as appropriate.

How are we assessed?

Two written exam papers at the end of Year 11: 

Paper 1: Explorations in Creative Reading and Writing (50% of GCSE, 1 hour 45 minute exam)

Paper 2: Writers’ Viewpoints and Perspectives (50% of GCSE, 1 hour 45 minute exam)

Assessment Objectives:

Assessment objectives (AOs) are set by Ofqual and are the same across all GCSE English Language Specifications and all exam boards. The exams and Spoken Language endorsement will measure how students have achieved the following assessment objectives:

AO1: identify and interpret explicit and implicit information and ideas select and synthesise evidence from different texts.

AO2: Explain, comment on and analyse how writers use language and structure to achieve effects and influence readers, using relevant subject terminology to support their views.

AO3: Compare writers’ ideas and perspectives, as well as how these are conveyed, across two or more texts.

AO4: Evaluate texts critically and support this with appropriate textual references.

AO5: Communicate clearly, effectively and imaginatively, selecting and adapting tone, style and register for different forms, purposes and audiences. Organise information and ideas, using structural and grammatical features to support coherence and cohesion of texts.

AO6: Candidates must use a range of vocabulary and sentence structures for clarity, purpose and effect, with accurate spelling and punctuation. (This requirement must constitute 20% of the marks for each specification as a whole.)

AO7: Demonstrate presentation skills in a formal setting.

AO8: Listen and respond appropriately to spoken language, including questions and feedback on presentations.

AO9: Use spoken Standard English effectively in speeches and presentations.

How are we grouped?

As at Key Stage 3, students are taught in banded groups as opposed to finely set classes. For example, instead of a class only containing students with GCSE targets of a 5 or 6, a typical class will have a slightly wider range of targets, from grades 5 to 7 or from grades 4 to 6. Groups are no longer identified numerically (e.g. sets 1, 2, 3 etc.) but are instead named after some of the literary characters they will meet in their study of GCSE texts; e.g. Magwitch and Mercutio.

What home learning am I expected to do?

Home learning is given once a week and we would normally expect this to take between 45 minutes to 2 hours. Homework tasks are directly linked to the content of the lessons and may include:

  • Self-quizzing
  • Research
  • Pre-reading for in class study
  • Aim Higher booklets
  • Practice exam questions
  • Appropriate revision for in class tests

As well as this, we would expect students to be working independently to read through their notes from lessons; learn key words; improve literacy issues identified in their work and work on targets given in class.

Students are also expected to read outside of lessons; we suggest for three to four hours a week. At this stage, students should be aware of the world around them and we encourage the reading of good quality newspapers and non-fiction as well as fiction texts. All students should have a book in school every day.


What can parents do to help?

Your help is very much appreciated and here are a few ideas about how you can support your children with their home learning:

  • Talk to your child about how to approach the task set.
  • Discuss his or her reading and encourage your child to offer evidence and explain it when discussing characters/themes (there are many reasonably priced study guides on the set texts that you can find in any high street bookshop or online).
  • Help your child to look up unfamiliar vocabulary and to learn it.
  • Proofread work with your child (please advise us of the help you have given).
  • Test on key words, etc.
  • Encourage the meeting of deadlines and/or communication with teachers to clear up any misunderstandings.
  • Encourage your child to take an active interest in current affairs/politics and to feel comfortable discussing their opinions.

Please note:

Although this is a separate qualification to GCSE Literature, students must be entered for GCSE

Literature to be awarded GCSE Language.

This is a single tiered qualification where all students, regardless of varying abilities, sit the same exam papers. This is the same for all GCSE Language and Literature specifications and across all exam boards.