Aim of the subject

Our aim for all our students at The Ilfracombe Academy is to promote excellent standards of language and literacy by enabling students to develop high standards of written and spoken communication. A love of reading for pleasure as well as to enhance learning opportunities is at the heart of our ethos. In line with the National Curriculum, the English Department aims to ensure that all pupils:

  • read easily, fluently and with good understanding
  • develop the habit of reading widely and often, for both pleasure and information
  • acquire a wide vocabulary, an understanding of grammar and knowledge of linguistic conventions for reading, writing and spoken language
  • appreciate our rich and varied literary heritage
  • write clearly, accurately and coherently, adapting their language and style in and for a range of contexts, purposes and audiences
  • use discussion in order to learn
  • are competent in the arts of speaking and listening, making formal presentations, demonstrating to others and participating in debate.

Courses/subjects on offer

AQA GCSE English literature
AQA GCSE English language
AQA A Level English language and literature

Styles of teaching

In KS3 classes are taught in ability groupings.  Setting also takes place in KS4.

A wide range of learning activities takes place depending on the task and the topic being explored.  Group work, research and independence are all skills nurtured by the department.  Students are encouraged to develop their own ideas, especially in response to literature.  ICT is used when appropriate to support and enhance the learning for our students.

Progression routes

English is a key subject in education and in society. All students will study English at KS3 and KS4.  Employers and colleges expect a good grade in the subject before offering places at colleges, universities, apprenticeships or other places of work.  Those choosing to continue to study English at A Level find that the courses are well suited to a number of degree courses.  Literature, in particular, is an excellent route into Law and other academic pathways.

Key Stage 3

In Years 7 and 8, students are given a passport to record and track their reading progress each week. We challenge students to read for 100 minutes per week and to reflect on their reading in their passports. The passports are also used in conjunction with the Accelerated Reader software. Through Accelerated Reader and the passports, students take control of their reading and can track their progress. Passports are signed each week by English teachers and we also invite parents to sign their child’s passport too.

To monitor your child’s progress within Accelerated Reader, please click on the logo below and login with the details supplied by the school:

Home Connect


Year 7

Subject content in terms of topics covered
Non-fiction writing – Writing to argue and persuade on the theme of society
Non-fiction reading – Reviews, newspaper articles, political speeches
Poetry – A selection of War poetry
Fiction Reading – ‘Animal Farm’, ‘Alice in Wonderland’
Fiction writing –Fantasy themed stories and poetry
Shakespeare – ‘A Midsummer Night’s Dream’

  • Skills taught– writing for specific purposes and audiences
    – understanding and exploring genre and relevant conventions – developing technical accuracy in written texts
    – investigating a writer’s use of structure – a range of reading skills including skimming, scanning, inference and deduction, exploring language choices and analysis of texts
    – interpreting a drama text
    – developing speaking and listening skills including effective questioning, group work and formal presentations

Year 8

Subject content in terms of topics covered
Non –fiction writing –News reports, writing to persuade and argue on environmental causes
Non-fiction reading – A range of texts based on the theme of crime
Fiction reading – A selection of Detective fiction
Poetry – A selection of poetry on the theme of nature and the environment
Fiction writing –Recasting literature, writing from particular viewpoints and perspectives
Shakespeare – ‘The Tempest’

  • Skills taught– writing for specific purposes and audiences
    – developing the skill of comparing and contrasting texts
    – developing technical accuracy in written texts
    – developing a range of reading skills including skimming, scanning, inference and deduction, exploring language choices and analysis of texts
    – developing analytical skills
    – interpreting a drama text
    – developing speaking and listening skills including effective questioning, group work and formal presentations

Year 9

The Year 9 units are designed to fully prepare our students for the challenging new GCSE specifications. The texts we use are either on the current GCSE syllabus or have been used as a GCSE text in previous years. Each unit provides students with opportunities to experience responding to GCSE style tasks in order for our students to start their English GCSE courses with confidence.

Subject content in terms of topics covered
Non –fiction reading and writing  – Range of travel writing for different purposes
Poetry  – A selection of poetry from other cultures
Fiction Writing  – Descriptive and narrative writing on the theme of travel
Fiction Reading – ‘Of Mice and Men’
Shakespeare – ‘Macbeth’

  • Skills taught
    – writing for specific purposes and audiences
    – development of comparing and contrasting texts
    – developing language analysis and analytical style
    – developing structured responses to texts
    – consolidating technical accuracy in written texts
    – consolidating a range of reading skills including skimming, scanning, inference and deduction, exploring language choices and analysis of texts
    – interpreting a drama text
    – consolidating speaking and listening skills including effective questioning, group work and formal presentations

Key Stage 4

English language

Aims and learning outcomes

Students will be encouraged to:

  • read fluently and write effectively with a confident control of Standard English. They should be able to write grammatically correct sentences, deploy figurative language and analyse texts;
  • read a wide range of texts, fluently and with good understanding;
  • read critically, and use knowledge gained from wide reading to inform and improve their own writing;
  • write effectively and coherently using Standard English appropriately;
  • use grammar correctly, punctuate and spell accurately;
  • acquire and apply a wide vocabulary, alongside a knowledge and understanding of grammatical terminology, and linguistic conventions for reading, writing and spoken language;
  • listen to and understand spoken language, and use spoken Standard English effectively.

Assessment objectives


AO1: identify and interpret explicit and implicit information and ideas, select and synthesise evidence from different texts
AO2: Explain, comment on and analyse how writers use language and structure to achieve effects and influence readers, using relevant subject terminology to support their views
AO3: Compare writers’ ideas and perspectives, as well as how these are conveyed, across two or more texts
AO4: Evaluate texts critically and support this with appropriate textual references


AO5: Communicate clearly, effectively and imaginatively, selecting and adapting tone, style and register for different forms, purposes and audiences. Organise information and ideas, using appropriate features
AO6: Candidates must use a range of vocabulary and sentence structures for clarity, purpose and effect, with accurate spelling and punctuation

Spoken Language

AO7: Demonstrate presentation skills in a formal setting
AO8: Listen and respond appropriately to spoken language, including to questions and feedback on presentations
AO9: Use spoken Standard English effectively in speeches and presentations.

The examinations

There are two examinations that will be taken at the end of Y11.

Paper 1 (1 hour and 45 minutes 50% of GCSE)

Explorations in Creative Reading and Writing

Section A: Reading a literature text

Section B: descriptive or narrative writing

Paper 2 (1 hour and 45 minutes 50% of GCSE)

Writers’ Viewpoints and Perspectives

Section A: Reading – one non-fiction text and one literary non-fiction text

Section B: Writing to present a viewpoint

In addition, students will complete a range of speaking and listening activities in class. These do not count towards the final GCSE grade but will appear as a separate endorsement on the GCSE certificate.

English literature

It is envisaged that the vast majority of students will complete the English literature GCSE alongside their English language GCSE studies.

English literature is a vital subject that encourages students to develop their analytical reading skills together with the opportunity to experience a wide range of significant texts from our English literary heritage.

Aims and learning outcomes of the course

  • Students will be encouraged to develop their knowledge and skills in reading, writing and critical thinking. Through literature, students have a chance to develop culturally and acquire knowledge of the best that has been thought and written.
  • Studying GCSE English Literature should encourage students to read widely for pleasure, and as a preparation for studying literature at a higher level.

Students will also:

  • read a wide range of classic literature fluently and with good understanding, and make connections across their reading;
  • read in depth, critically and evaluatively, so that they are able to discuss and explain their understanding and ideas;
  • develop the habit of reading widely and often;
  • appreciate the depth and power of the English literary heritage;
  • write accurately, effectively and analytically about their reading, using Standard English;
  • acquire and use a wide vocabulary, including the grammatical terminology and other literary and linguistic terms they need to criticise and analyse what they read.

Assessment Objectives

Students will be assessed in the following skills

AO1: Read, understand and respond to texts. Students should be able to maintain a critical style and develop an informed personal response and use textual references, including quotations, to support and illustrate interpretations.
AO2: Analyse the language, form and structure used by a writer to create meanings and effects, using relevant subject terminology where appropriate.
AO3: Show understanding of the relationships between texts and the contexts in which they were written.
AO4: Use a range of vocabulary and sentence structures for clarity, purpose and effect, with accurate spelling and punctuation.

Course Content

Students will be required to study plays, poetry and novels as part of the course. The list below is not definitive but gives a guideline of what will be studied on the course.

Shakespeare                           ‘Macbeth’

The 19th Century novel        ‘A Christmas Carol’ by Charles Dickens

Modern Drama*                    ‘An Inspector Calls’ by J B Priestley

Poetry                                       Students will study a range of poems from the AQA anthology ‘Past and Present’

The Examinations

There are two examinations that will take place at the end of Y11.

Paper 1 (1 hour 45 minutes 40% of GCSE)


19th Century novel

Paper 2: (2 hours 15 minutes 60% of GCSE)

Modern drama/modern prose


Unseen poetry

Methods and timings of assessment

All terminal examinations at the end of Year 11

Examination board and syllabus details

  • English language GCSE AQA
  • English literature GCSE AQA

*Please see links below for syllabus details

Key Stage 5

A-level English language and literature

The AQA A-level English Language and Literature specification draws on the academic field of Stylistics in order to create an integrated English Language and Literature course which brings together literary and non-literary discourses.

This specification differs from those focused primarily on literature by extending its coverage beyond literature to explore differences and similarities between literary texts and others; it differs from those primarily focused on language by bringing the nature of literary discourse into sharper view. For many, it will feel a more natural progression from their GCSE studies in English as both English literature and English language have been taught side by side.

This specification offers opportunities for students to develop their subject expertise by engaging creatively, critically and independently with a wide range of texts. Students develop skills as producers and interpreters of language by creating texts themselves and critically reflecting on their own processes of production.

Paper 1 – 3 hour exam
– 100 Marks
– 40% of A Level
Paper 1: Telling Stories
Remembered Places – the representation of place
Imagined Worlds – point of view and genre in prose
Poetic Voices – the forms and functions of poetic voice

Paper 2 – 2 hours 30 minutes exam
– 100 marks
– 40% of A-level
Paper 2: Exploring Conflict
Writing about Society – the role of the individual in society, and re-creative writing based on set texts
Critical commentary – evaluating own writing
Dramatic Encounters – conflict in drama

Coursework  50 marks
– 20% of A-level
A personal investigation that explores a specific technique or theme in both literary and
non-literary discourse (2,500 – 3,000 words).

For further information please contact the Head of Department:
Angela Walsh

Useful Links and Supporting Documents

Suggested Websites – Year 11 Revision
Suggested Websites – A Level

Recommended books for Year 7

Recommended books for Year 8
Year 9 Recommended Reading List
GCSE Wider Reading
Advanced Reading List
Critical Vocabulary
KS5 Reading List

Content updated September 2018