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GCSE English Language and Literature

What will I be studying during the course?

All students follow a course in English. The vast majority of students will be entered for GCSE English Language and Literature, with a small proportion of students completing just the GCSE English Language course if this is deemed most appropriate by their teacher.  They will study a Shakespeare play, poetry – seen and unseen, PLUS a 19th Century novel and either a Post 1914 prose OR drama text.

English Language and Literature are 100% terminal examination subjects.

English Language

Throughout Year 10 and 11, students will follow a carefully structured course designed to develop their writing skills in a creative and a persuasive response.  They will be assessed on their ability to communicate effectively and their accuracy, in terms of spelling, punctuation and grammar.  Students will be assessed on their inference, analytical and comparative skills when reading fiction and non-fiction texts from different times in history.

English Literature

The English Literature examinations are essay based where students will analyse the characters, themes, context and language of a range of texts as outlined below:

The English Literature examinations are essay based and will cover the following topics:

  • A Shakespeare play and 19th century novel
  • A modern play or novel
  • Poetry – anthology of 15 studied poems and unseen poetry

Why study English or English Language & English Literature

English is an essential requirement for all careers and all forms of further and higher education.  A GCSE in English informs an employer that you have reached a certain level of literacy and they will then know what they can expect you to be able to do in a way of communicating both orally and in writing.  They will know what to expect of your level of understanding of written texts, and they will understand that they can rely on your ability to respond appropriately.

What will the examinations be like?

Both English Language and English Literature examinations will be carried out in the summer term of Y11. Throughout Y10 and Y11 there are formal assessments within the classroom to assess your progress, and show you which areas of your knowledge and skills require further development.

The English Language GCSE has two examination papers. Both papers last 1 hour 45 minutes and equate to 50% of your GCSE each

The English Literature GCSE has two examination papers. One paper lasts 1 hour 45 minutes and will focus on a Shakespeare play and a 19th century novel; this exam equates to 40% of the final GCSE. The second exam lasts 2 hours 15 minutes and will focus on the modern text, the poetry collection you have studied, and unseen poetry; this exam equates to 60% of the Literature GCSE.

Routes to employment

Studying English enables students to develop many transferable skills including critical thinking, using a broad vocabulary and effective written and spoken communication.

Students who have studied English go on to study courses at college, sixth forms and universities such as English Language, English Literature, Journalism, Media Studies, Law, Ethics and Philosophy.

Students who have studied English have access to a wide range of careers and employment opportunities such as publishing, teaching, journalism, human resources, law and project management.

Who do I need to see to find out more?

Talk to your English teacher or to Mrs M Bennett, the Head of English.

Options – English FAQs

Although on students’ timetables they will have ‘English’ as one subject, we will cover two GCSEs during those lessons – English Language GCSE and English Literature GCSE
The vast majority of students study both English Language and English Literature GCSEs – this gives students the best possible opportunity to showcase their analysis skill across a wider range of texts, enjoy a wide range of fiction, and develop a variety of writing styles for different audiences and purposes. It better prepares them for their next steps in education or employment.
There are no tiers of entry in English Language or English Literature GCSE – all pupils sit exactly the same exam paper, and are marked with the same mark scheme. All pupils have the opportunity to be graded up to grade 9.
In both GCSE subjects, students are taught the knowledge of how writers use language and structure to influence their readers. In English Language students are also taught how to skilfully analyse writers’ use of language in fiction and non-fiction from different time periods, and how to adapt their own writing for a variety of purposes and forms. In English Literature students gain knowledge about extended pieces of literature from different time periods, and are taught how to use that knowledge to write critically to analyse how writers use language, structure and form to entertain and inform their readers.
It is incredibly helpful for students to have their own copies of the Literature texts that we study. Usually, we are able to order these in bulk and therefore secure a discount – we offer these at cost price to students, which is usually between £12-16 for all 3 of the set texts. We would of course offer use of a school copy in class if it is not possible for students to buy their own, but these will not be able to be annotated; another option is to purchase these second hand, or use ones from older siblings or friends. The Poetry Anthology is provided free of charge from the exam board. We recommend the CGP study guides, which can be purchased through most online book retailers including Amazon and WH Smith.
Spoken Language is assessed through a formal presentation. The judgement is recorded separately to the GCSE grade. It does not form part of either English Language or English Literature GCSE, but is entirely separate.
We encourage every student to read as much as they are able to, and as widely as possible. Newspaper articles, good quality online newspapers, magazine articles, non-fiction books, biographies and autobiographies of people of interest, as well as novels and poetry, are all excellent choices of reading material to prepare students for GCSE study. Reading not only broadens our vocabulary, aids our grammar and spelling, but reading a wide range teaches us about the differences between these forms and styles – this makes it much easier for students to emulate these styles in their own writing. Finally, reading offers us a new view of the world in which we live – either to teach us something new or to provide a much-needed escape from our very busy lives!

Head Teacher – Mr P Burke
The Fernwood School, Goodwood Road, Wollaton, Nottingham, NG8 2FT
0115 9286 326 |
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