“Reading is an exercise in empathy; an exercise in walking in someone else’s shoes for a while.” – Malorie Blackman
English has an important place in education and in society. A high-quality education in English will teach pupils 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. Literature, especially, plays a key role in such development. Reading also enables pupils 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.
Key Stage 3
At Key Stage 3, students will study English Language and Literature combined. For reading, students will be taught to develop an appreciation of quality and challenging literature and will be introduced to high-quality works of writers such as William Shakespeare, Charles Dickens, George Orwell and the more contemporary, Susan Hill. At Magnus Academy, students will begin to learn and master the knowledge and skills required of them to be successful readers and writers.
For writing, students will be taught to write and develop a range of writing types for different purposes and audiences: letters, reports, stories, writing to describe, speeches and articles. There is also a focus on developing grammatical knowledge which supports the transition from Key Stage 2 whilst preparing them for GCSE.
Key Stage 4
GCSE English Language
At Key Stage 4, the course introduces students to a range of 20th century fiction and non-fiction texts and teaches them to understand and critically evaluate different texts. There are two components to the exam: Component 1- 20th Century Reading and Creative Prose Writing and Component 2- 19th and 21st Century Non-fiction Reading and Transactional/ Persuasive Writing. To prepare students for Component 1 of the qualification, they are introduced to a wide range of 20th century fiction to which they are taught how to comment on how the writer uses language and structure for specific effects as well as teaching them how to evaluate texts critically and support these ideas with appropriate evidence. For writing, students are given the opportunity to develop their narrative writing skills as well as their imaginative and creative use of language.
For Component 2, students are exposed to a vast number of high-quality non-fiction texts, one from the 19th century and one from the 21st century; these can range from letters, extracts from autobiographies or biographies, diaries, articles, reports and digital texts from newspapers, magazines and the internet. For writing, students will be taught how to write a range of transactional, persuasive and discursive writing. A heavier emphasis is placed on non-fiction reading and writing in order to ensure that skills for work, life and further education are prioritised.
Speaking and Listening
The English Language GCSE requires students to be assessed for their Speaking and Listening skills. This gives students the chance to excel in spoken language by preparing and presenting to speak to different audiences and responding to questions posed to them.
GCSE English Literature
At Key Stage 4, students will be reading and analysing the texts needed for the two components of their exam: Shakespeare and Post- 1914 Literature and 19th Century Novel and Poetry since 1789.
Students will read ‘Macbeth’ by William Shakespeare, focusing on the plot and characters before gaining an understanding of the Jacobean era and what influenced the themes in the play. As well as Shakespeare, students will also read the play ‘An Inspector Calls’ by J.B Priestley and will be taught how to analyse the language, form and structure of these texts. An understanding of the relationships between texts and the contexts in which they were written is required for their exam, so life in 1912 and 1945 will also be explored.
For Component 2 of their GCSE, students will be studying ‘A Christmas Carol’ by Charles Dickens which will allow them to develop informed and personal responses to the text and maintain a critical style within their exam responses. An exploration of characters and themes alongside author intent will be analysed to secure understanding. Poetry will also be studied on the theme of ‘Conflict’, including a range of poets such as Benjamin Zephaniah and Wilfred Owen. Students will be focusing on how to make comparisons between poems and write cohesive evaluations of the poets’ language and the effect on the reader.
At Key Stage 5, students will develop an understanding of a range of literary and non-literary texts, including factors that affect their production and reception. Students will develop a detailed understanding of the stylistics branch of linguistic analysis.
Over the two years, students will develop their understanding of stylistics based analysis including: how to apply linguistic frameworks, factors that affect text production and reception, understanding how writers use language to convey meaning and understanding how literariness, semantic density and other factors affect the linguistic choices made by writers.
Students will study the following texts:
- The Paris Anthology – a collection of literary and non-literary texts about Paris
- ‘The Handmaid’s Tale’ by Margaret Atwood
- A collection of poetry by Carol Ann Duffy
- ‘A Streetcar Named Desire’ by Tennessee Williams
- ‘The Great Gatsby’ by F. Scott Fitzgerald
Students will also complete a non-exam assessment based on a literary and non-literary text of their choosing.