Students are entered for two separate GCSEs in English at Key Stage 4: GCSE English Language and GCSE English Literature, both examined by AQA, both taught by the same teacher.
GCSE English Language is the qualification that employers and colleges place most importance on. It is taught from the start of Year 10 through to November of Year 11.
Unit 1: Understanding and Producing non-fiction texts (worth 40%)
This is the external examination which lasts 2 hours 15 minutes. The majority of the current Year 11 students, following the outgoing ‘modular’ format, sat this in January 2013. Under the ‘linear’ format, most students will sit this in the November of Year 11. Students are entered at either ‘Foundation’ or ‘Higher’ tier. There are two sections, equally weighted:
- Section A focuses on ‘Reading’ skills and requires students to answer a series of questions on three non-fiction ‘texts.’
- Section B assesses their ‘Writing’ skills and students are required to complete two tasks.
Unit 2: Speaking and Listening (worth 20%)
Students complete three tasks, all equally weighted, all internally assessed by the teacher. It consists of a ‘discussion and listening’ task, a ‘presentation’ task and a ‘role play’ task.
Unit 3: Understanding spoken and written texts and writing creatively (worth 40%)
This is the former ‘coursework’ element, now known as ‘Controlled Assessments.’ They take place throughout the course in the classroom and are all written under examination conditions. They are internally assessed by the teacher, externally moderated by AQA. There are four assessments, although some may be re-sat (with different tasks):
- Extended Reading (15%): a language-based response to ‘Of Mice and Men’
- Two Creative Writing tasks (15% in total): AQA changes the tasks each year, but will be a ‘commission,’ a ‘re-creation’ or a ‘media’ piece
- Spoken Language study (10%): AQA changes the task each year, but in the past has focused on ‘texting’ and ‘social networking’ language.