English has a pre-eminent place in education and in society. A high-quality education in English teaches students to speak and write fluently so that they can communicate their ideas and emotions to others, and through their reading and listening others can communicate with them. Through reading in particular, students have a chance to develop culturally, emotionally, intellectually, socially and spiritually and Literature, especially, plays a key role in such development. Reading also enables students both to acquire knowledge and to build on what they already know. All the skills of language are essential to participating fully as a member of society. English at The Westgate School therefore, allows students to take risks and enhances an individual's ability to think critically through the exploration of different texts across different times. The English department is committed to making our subject both challenging and engaging whilst ensuring our units of work are firmly planted in the requirements of the new GCSE ‘English Language’ and ‘English Literature’ examination requirements. Students are taught in mixed ability groups across the Key Stages as we believe variety in an English classroom allows students to both challenge themselves and their peers whilst creating an environment where all students can progress. The skills utilised and developed in English, such as critical analysis and creative thinking, allow students to approach every subject with confidence. The texts and topics that have been selected for study across all year groups provide a platform that encourages the students to consider ideas and themes they may not normally encounter. The goal of the English department is to support every student from Year 7 through to Year 13, in the development of their English skills, so that all students ultimately achieve their goals.
At Key Stage 3, all students approach the study of English through half termly modules which cover the three main disciplines of the language: Reading, Writing and Speaking and Listening. All modules challenge students to be creative and analytical and are firmly embedded in the type of learning that fully prepare them for the skills they will require for GCSE. Whilst Students in Years 7 and 8 are introduced to content and terminology that they will eventually develop further in their later years in the school, students in Year 9 continue to utilise these skills even further through a curriculum that prepares them fully for the major step up to Key Stage 4 and the beginning of their GCSE examination years. The students are taught to take risks in their learning whilst at the same time are developing their ability to infer and analyse a wide variety of texts. Both the content and terminology used are based on the new GCSE skills so that students are constantly and consistently being exposed to the language requirements needed to succeed in both English Language and English Literature.
At Key Stage 4, all students follow a linear two-year course which enables them to be entered for BOTH the AQA ‘English Language’ and ‘English Literature’ examinations in the summer of the final year of the course. The students are prepared for the two ‘English Language’ examination papers and the two ‘English Literature’ examination papers throughout the duration of these two years, studying a number of key texts and learning how to fulfil the skills of the, highly prescriptive, set assessment objectives.
In preparation for the AQA GCSE ‘English Language’ examination students are exposed to many examples and forms of writing from the 19th/20th/21st century in order for them to be able to respond to both Reading and Writing tasks on the two examination papers:
- Paper 1 – Explorations in creative reading and writing
- Paper 2 – Writers’ viewpoints and perspectives
All students will also be expected to complete a required, compulsory, Speaking and Listening task for which they will receive a Pass, Merit or Distinction.
Students currently study four main texts for 'English Literature':
- Shakespeare's Macbeth
- J.B Priestley's An Inspector Calls
- Robert Louis Stevenson's The Strange Case of Dr. Jekyll and Mr Hyde
- A prescribed AQA Poetry Anthology
As the AQA GCSE ‘English Literature’ assessment is based solely on two examinations, it is important students develop a thorough understanding of each text. Our comprehensive study of each unit allows students to prepare appropriately to achieve their target grade.