Subject Overview

Waddesdon puts English at the heart of the curriculum. The school appreciates its importance both within the educational programme and in the outside world where skill with language and communication enables young people to make progress at work. English is also regarded as a subject area where important cultural values can be nurtured.

Students follow a rigorous course in speaking, listening, reading and writing at Key Stage 3 and Key Stage 4. Students are encouraged to become confident in expressing their opinions and are challenged by a varied reading programme, designed to encourage young people to make the transition to studies in adult literature. High standards are expected for written work but staff remain sensitive to the abilities and educational needs of all students and work hard to provide differentiated courses.

A team of enthusiastic A Level teachers ensure that English is a popular subject with Year 12 and Year 13 students. The creative approach to each key stage of education provides a firm foundation for the working world or for those hoping to pursue their studies through the Sixth Form and to higher education.
Course Information

Key Stage 3

English in Year 7

The Year 7 curriculum builds on the students’ English experience in Year 6. Although the texts and specific tasks differ depending on each student’s English teacher, core skills in Reading, Writing and Speaking and Listening are covered by all students. Core topics which continue throughout the year are:
  • The Blackwell Spelling System
  • The Reading Programme based on fortnightly Library lessons, independent reading and some teacher-set tasks
  • Language skills lessons

Writing Tasks

The range of tasks covered during the year will develop students’ awareness of the need to tailor their writing for different types of texts and audiences. Specific skills will be taught for a range of purposes, for example:
  • Imaginative writing to entertain
  • Literary analysis
  • Persuasive writing
  • Informative texts
Class teachers will provide a range of tasks. Some of these will be common writing assessments which are completed by every class across the year group.


A variety of texts (some in extract form) are read and analysed including:
  • Drama
  • Poetry
  • Prose (including 19th Century prose)
In the summer term, the Shakespeare Project gives an opportunity for individual research, and throughout the year students undertake studies of authors and their context.

Speaking and Listening

In the Autumn term, students prepare and present a talk entitled ‘All About Me’ to their class. In the summer term, each student prepares and tells a story to their class; one student is then chosen to represent the class in the Year 7 Storytelling finals. Throughout the year, students are involved in oral work which includes group work, individual presentations, role play and improvisation.

 English in Year 8

The Year 8 English curriculum consolidates and builds on the work begun in Year 7. Core lessons cover:
  • spelling strategies
  • independent reading and evaluation
  • vocabulary widening
  • key language skills

Writing Tasks

Common writing assessments for students are set in the autumn term. Throughout the year, other writing tasks cover:
  • Writing to describe
  • Analytical writing
  • Creative writing
  • Writing to inform


A variety of reading units includes:
  • the detailed study of a class novel
  • non-fiction reading, including comprehension tasks
  • a genre study based on close reading
  • the exploration of pre-20th Century extracts
  • the Poetry programme
  • explorations of two authors’ lives and work
  • a study of language change: Chaucer to Now
  • an investigation of media
In the summer term, all students enjoy a unit based on Shakespeare’s ‘Twelfth Night’.

Speaking and Listening

Throughout the year, students’ oral skills are developed and encouraged through a wide range of activities. This culminates in a Debating Competition which takes place in the summer term.

 English in Year 9 

Work in the autumn of Year 9 focuses on consolidation of key skills in preparation for GCSE tasks.

Autumn Term

Students undertake:
  • the study of a class novel, with special emphasis on close analytical response
  • a range of extended writing tasks
  • a poetry comparison with introduction to controlled conditions working
  • a variety of close reading tasks
  • revision of writing skills, with a focus on writing to persuade

Spring Term

The GCSE English course begins. Students cover:
  • Imaginative and analytical writing
  • Study of 'Animal Farm' by George Orwell in preparation for their GCSE English Literature exam at the end of Year 11

Summer Term

Students cover:
  • Study of a 19th Century short story or text in extract form
  • Preparation for their GCSE English Language Paper 1 exam
Year 9 will sit a mock English Language Paper 1 exam similar in format to the one they will sit at the end of Year 11. This will be a 1 hour 45 minute paper covering the skills of reading and analysing fiction, followed by writing in a narrative or descriptive style.

Speaking and Listening

In Year 9, many opportunities are provided for students to listen to others and to make oral contributions themselves. These oral activities may be formal or informal. During the course of the year, some tasks will be based upon the GCSE requirements. In the summer term, the Persuasive Speaking Competition provides a forum for each student to give an individual speech to his/her English group. One student is then chosen to represent the teaching group in the finals. For each student, the grade awarded for this speech is their first GCSE Speaking and Listening grade.

Key Stage 4

English in Year 10 and 11

Please note the new GCSE is 100% exam assessed: there is no coursework or controlled assessment that counts towards the final GCSE grade.

English Language: 8700 syllabus


All texts in the English examination will be unseen.

Paper 1: Explorations in Creative Reading and Writing. 50% of GCSE

Section A: Reading

Comprehension and analysis of the language and structure of one literature fiction text (20th or 21st Century) 1 short form question (1 x 4 marks) 2 longer form questions (2 x 8 marks) 1 extended question (1 x 20 marks)

Section B: Writing

Descriptive or narrative writing

1 extended writing question (24 marks for content, 16 marks for technical accuracy) Written exam: 1 hour 45 minutes 80 marks (50%)

Paper 2: Writers' Viewpoints and Perspectives. 50% of GCSE

Section A: Reading

Comprehension and analysis of the language and structure of two linked texts: one non-fiction text and one literary non-fiction text (19th and 20th/21st Century) 1 short form question (1 x 4 marks) 2 longer form questions (1 x 8, 1 x 12 marks) 1 extended question (1 x 16 marks)

Section B: Writing

Writing to present a viewpoint

1 extended writing question (24 marks for content, 16 marks for technical accuracy) Written exam: 1 hour 45 minutes 80 marks

Non-examination Assessment: Spoken Language

  • presentation skills
  • responding to questions and feedback
  • use of Standard English

  • teacher set throughout course
  • marked by teacher
  • Students will receive a Pass, Merit or Distinction mark, externally moderated by the exam board (0% weighting of GCSE)

GCSE English Literature: 8702 syllabus


All assessments are closed book: any stimulus materials required will be provided as part of the assessment.

Paper 1: Shakespeare and the 19th Century novel

Section A: 'Romeo and Juliet' by William Shakespeare (20%)

Students will be required to write in detail about an extract from the play (printed on the exam paper) and then to write about the play as a whole.

Section B: 'The Sign of the Four' by Sir Arthur Conan Doyle (20%)

Students will be required to write in detail about an extract from the novel (printed on the exam paper) and then to write about the novel as a whole. Written exam: 1 hour 45 minutes 64 marks 40% of GCSE

Paper 2: Modern texts and poetry

Section A: 'Animal Farm' (20%)

Students will answer one essay question from a choice of two on 'Animal Farm'. No extract is provided for this text.

Section B: The AQA 'Conflict Poetry Anthology' (20%)

Students will answer one comparative question on one named poem printed on the paper and one other poem of their choice from the 'Conflict Anthology'.

Section C: Unseen poetry (20%)

Students will answer one question on one unseen poem (24 marks) and one question comparing this poem with a second, unseen poem (8 marks). Written exam: 2 hour 15 minutes 96 marks 60% of GCSE

Key Stage 5

Year 12 and 13 will be studying A Level English Literature  with Edexcel. English Literature is a challenging but exciting subject at A Level. As with all subjects, the progression from GCSE to A Level is not inconsiderable, requiring much more independence in reading, and more confidence in developing personal responses to an author's use of language, as well as a deeper understanding of the context in which a text is written and received. In order to prepare for the course, we ask you to begin reading one of the studied texts in Year 12, and give you a range of optional extension choices to do if you would like to prepare further. We ask students to be open-minded and willing to take risks when discussing texts. Most lessons are based around discussion, exploration and feedback. We expect students to lead lessons by sharing their interpretations, challenging the critical responses of others and share material they have created for the benefit of others.

  10 Key Ingredients for Success at English Literature A Level
  • Careful preparation for lessons
  • Sharing your views in class
  • Seeking to develop a wider vocabulary and a mature style of writing
  • Meeting your deadlines
  • Reading what other critics have to say
  • Reading further texts by the same author(s)
  • Generally reading widely, both in support of your studies, and for relaxation
  • Taking responsibility for your own learning; responding positively to advice given
  • Reviewing your learning regularly and seeking support when required
  • Getting ahead over the summer!
In order to study English Literature at A Level you need to achieve at least a grade 5 and a grade 6 in English Language and English Literature at GCSE. It should go without saying that you also need to have a genuine enjoyment of reading and be prepared to study prose, poetry and drama texts with commitment and enthusiasm. The course will help you to develop your interest and enjoyment of texts and gain an understanding of the traditions of English Literature. You will learn to make informed opinions and judgements on literary texts; this course will appeal to those students who enjoy expressing their opinions and justifying their comments. The set texts are drawn from a range of historical periods between 1370 and the present day, and students are expected to study twelve texts over the two-year course.

English in Year 12

A Level English Literature – all students will follow the linear A Level course and be entered for the A Level examinations (Edexcel) at the end of the two-year course. Students in Year 12 will have two formal assessment points in the first year: one in January and one in the Summer term. The results of these assessments will provide a useful indication of pupils’ progress throughout the course. Students will be assessed on all texts studied for examination at the end of Year 13. Students must:

AO1 Articulate informed, personal and creative responses to literary texts, using associated concepts and terminology, and coherent, accurate written expression (27.6%)

AO2 Analyse ways in which meanings are shaped in literary texts (27.6%)

AO3 Demonstrate understanding of the significance and influence of the contexts in which literary texts are written and received (21%)

AO4 Explore connections across literary texts (14%)

AO5 Explore literary texts informed by different interpretations (10%)

Students study:
  • a selection of specified poetry from 'Poems of the Decade' *see below for the list of poems*
  • 'The Importance of Being Earnest' by Oscar Wilde
  • ‘Frankenstein’ by Mary Shelley
  • ‘The Handmaid’s Tale’ by Margaret Atwood

    * Poems of the Decade selected poems for study:Eat Me, Patience Agbabi p.13 Chainsaw Versus the Pampas Grass, Simon Armitage p.16 Material, Ros Barber p.20 Inheritance, Eavan Boland p.32 A Leisure Centre is Also a Temple of Learning, Sue Boyle p.33 History, John Burnside p.35 The War Correspondent, Ciaran Carson p.39 An Easy Passage, Julia Copus p.47 The Deliverer, Tishani Doshi p.53 The Map Woman, Carol Ann Duffy p.57 The Lammas Hireling, Ian Duhig p.61 To My Nine-Year-Old Self, Helen Dunmore p.62 A Minor Role, U A Fanthorpe p.67 The Gun, Vicki Feaver p.72 The Furthest Distances I’ve Travelled, Leontia Flynn p.74 Giuseppe, Roderick Ford p.76 Out of the Bag, Seamus Heaney p.91 Effects, Alan Jenkins p.102 The Fox in the National Museum of Wales, Robert Minhinnick p.131 Genetics, Sinéad Morrissey p.135 From the Journal of a Disappointed Man, Andrew Motion p.137 Look We Have Coming to Dover, Daljit Nagra p.139 Fantasia on a Theme of James Wright, Sean O’Brien p.140 Please Hold, Ciaran O’Driscoll p.142 You, Shiva, and My Mum, Ruth Padel p.150 Song, George Szirtes p.178 On Her Blindness, Adam Thorpe p.180 Ode on a Grayson Perry Urn, Tim Turnbull p.182

    English in Year 13

Students study:
  • ‘A Streetcar Named Desire’ by Tennessee Williams
  • ‘The Great Gatsby’ by F. Scott Fitzgerald
  • ‘Antony and Cleopatra’ OR ‘Othello’ by William Shakespeare
  • ‘The Wife of Bath’s Prologue and Tale’ by Geoffrey Chaucer


Component 1: Drama (9ET0/01) 30% of A Level - 2 hours 15 minutes  

Written examination consisting of two sections. Clean copies of the texts studied may be taken into the exam. These are provided for the students.

Section A: Shakespeare

‘Anthony and Cleopatra’ OR‘Othello.’

ONE essay question from a choice of two on the studied text, incorporating ideas from wider critical reading (AO1, AO2, AO3, AO5 assessed). 35 marks

Section B: Other Drama

‘The Importance of Being Earnest’ by Oscar Wilde.

 ONE essay question from a choice of two. (AO1, AO2, AO3 assessed). 25 marks Total marks: 60

Component 2: Prose (9ET0/02) 20% of A Level – 1 hour.

‘The Handmaid’s Tale’ by Margaret Atwood and ‘Frankenstein’ by Mary Shelley.

  Written examination consisting of ONE section. Clean copies of the texts studied may be taken into the examination. These will be provided.

Students answer ONE comparative essay question from a choice of two on their studied theme (AO1, AO2, AO3, AO4 assessed). Total marks: 40  

Component 3: Poetry (9ET0/03) 30% of A Level – 2 hours 15 minutes.

Written examination consisting of 2 sections. Clean copies of the prescribed poetry texts may be taken into the examination. These will be provided.

Section A: Post-2000 poetry.  

‘Poems of the Decade.’  

ONE comparative essay question from a choice of two on an unseen modern poem written post-2000 and one named poem from the selection studied (AO1, AO2, AO4 assessed). 30 marks

Section B: Specified poetry pre- or post- 1900

‘The Wife of Bath’s Prologue and Tale’ by Geoffrey Chaucer.

  ONE essay question from a choice of two on the studied text (AO1, AO2, AO3 assessed). Clean copies of the text may be taken into the examination. These will be provided. 30 marks. Total marks: 60

Component 4: Coursework. (9ET0/04) 20% of A Level

‘A Streetcar Named Desire’ by Tennessee Williams and ‘The Great Gatsby’ by F Scott Fitzgerald, and one other text independently studied (student choice.)

Students produce ONE 3,000-word essay in which they compare one of the taught texts with their own independently-studied text choice. (AO1, AO2, AO3, AO4 AO5 assessed).

The coursework is internally assessed by teachers then externally moderated by the exam board. Total marks: 60
  • Subject Leader: Johnny Lee
  • Student Achievement Managers: Sarah Caswell and Helen Jauregui
  • Teachers: Vanessa Clark, Helen Drought, Lauren Haggerty, Hannah Rayner, Kate Turner