Subjects
at Cockermouth School

English

The central educational aims of the English department are to foster linguistic competence, individual growth and enrichment through a wide and varied curriculum. Accordingly, teaching in the department is innovative and designed to stimulate and enthuse students. Effective teaching of functional skills is allied with creative work, often in groups, and imaginative, creative exploration of language and ideas. In this way we aim to develop students’ proficiency in the four core areas of Reading, Writing, Speaking and Listening required for achieving good grades at GCSE in both Language and Literature. These core competencies are of course also essential to many aspects of life in the wider community.

Through the approaches outlined above, English encourages students to develop and mature as individuals; exposure to literature and the acquisition of high standards of functional language skills help our students to thrive in society both at school and in their lives beyond compulsory education.

Underpinning all of the above is a belief in the power of English to enrich and widen students’ lives by providing a rich and varied experience of plays, novels, poetry and films. Additionally, public speaking, debates and discussions, visits from authors and theatre trips add to the eclectic nature of the English experience.

Key Stage 3

Year 7

Throughout the year, students study the skills that underpin English through thematic units that aim to develop reading and writing. Year 7 includes units that focus on: description, analysis, explanation, argument, persuasion and summary skills. These skills are taught through a range of pre and post 1900 fiction and non-fiction texts such as William Wordsworth’s poetry, Tom Brown’s School Days, extracts from Shakespeare, Chaucer and newspaper articles. Assessments are undertaken for all the skills taught across the year. There are three classroom assessments plus an exam in the summer term that covers both reading and writing.

Year 8

Throughout the year, students study the skills that underpin English through thematic units that aim to develop reading and writing whilst also building upon the skills covered in the previous year. Year 8 includes units that focus on: description, narrative, analysis, explanation, argument and persuasion. These skills are taught through a range of pre and post 1900 fiction and non-fiction texts such as editorials, The Long Walk to Freedom by Nelson Mandela, Little Dorrit by Charles Dickens, Shakespeare’s Twelfth Night and The Diary of Anne Frank. Assessments are undertaken for all the skills taught across the year. There are three classroom assessments plus an exam in the summer term that covers both reading and writing.

Year 9

Throughout the year, students study the skills that underpin English through thematic units that aim to develop reading and writing whilst also building upon the skills covered in the previous year and preparing them for GCSE study in years 10 and 11. Year 9 includes units that focus on: transactional writing, literary analysis, shaping narratives, summary and synthesis. A lesson a week is also dedicated to writing skills to enable students to develop confidence and the techniques required to succeed at GCSE. These skills are taught through a range of pre and post 1900 fiction and non-fiction texts such as To Kill a Mockingbird, non –fiction texts from WW1, The Castle of Otranto, adverts, press releases and Shakespeare’s Romeo and Juliet. Assessments are undertaken for all the skills taught across the year. There are four classroom assessments plus an exam in the summer term that covers both reading and writing.

Key Stage 4

Year 10

During year 10, students continue to develop the skills covered in the previous years and will now be required to apply them to GCSE texts and tasks. Most students study for both Language and Literature GCSEs.  Year 10 currently includes units that focus on the knowledge and skills and understanding required for Literature study through texts such as Shakespeare’s Macbeth, post 1900 drama such as DNA or An Inspector Calls and 19th century fiction texts such as Great Expectations and Jekyll and Hyde. Texts choices are based on individual teacher’s expertise and the needs of the class. Language exam skills are also covered with a focus on Paper 1 - descriptive and narrative writing and reading skills: comprehension, linguistic and structural analysis, evaluation. Assessments are undertaken for all the skills taught across the year through CTG tasks. There are three formal classroom assessments plus a mock exam in the spring term that covers the full Language paper 1 and the modern drama text for the Literature GCSE.

Year 11

During year 11, students revisit skills covered in the previous years and continue to apply them to GCSE texts and tasks. Year 11 currently includes units that focus on revision of the knowledge, skills and understanding required for Literature study through revising the texts studied in year 10. One lesson a week is also dedicated to coverage of the Anthology (a collection of 15 poems) and preparation for the unseen poetry part of the Literature exam. Language exam skills are also covered with a focus on Paper 2 - transactional writing and reading skills: comprehension, linguistic analysis, summary, comparison and evaluation skills. Assessments are undertaken for all the skills taught across the year through CTG tasks. There are two formal classroom assessments plus a mock exam in the spring term that covers the full Language paper 2 and Literature Paper 1.

Key Stage 5

Year 12 – English Language

During year 12, students develop the skills required to bridge the gap between GCSE and A level study. The first term introduces students to the metalanguage required to undertake the course. Students study grammar, pragmatics, lexis and semantics, graphology, discourse and phonology. This framework is used to analyse a range of different topics: gender, social groups, regional variation and occupation. The texts used for this analysis are written, spoken or multi-modal. Students also learn about how to analyse texts in terms of how representation creates meaning and develop the skills required to construct discursive essays and write editorials. Assessments are undertaken for all the exam content taught across the year through exam style essays for each unit plus a mock exam in the spring term.

Year 13 – English Language

During year 13, students revisit the skills covered during the previous year and continue to apply them to a wide range of texts and tasks. Year 13 also includes new units of study that focus on producing non-exam assessment work in the form of an independent investigation and an extended creative task that explores the process of writing. Students also learn about child language acquisition, the use of English across the globe plus how language has changed over the last 400 years. In addition to the coursework, assessments are undertaken for all the exam content taught across the year through exam style essays for each unit plus a mock exam in the spring term.

Year 12 – English Language and Literature

During year 12, students study an anthology of a broad range of thematically linked texts. This enables students to develop and apply their understanding of the concepts and methods appropriate for the analysis and study of language. These skills are further developed through the study of a poetry anthology and a set literature text. The course encourages students to develop their interest in and enjoyment of English as they engage creatively and critically with a wide range of texts. Assessments are undertaken for all the exam content taught across the year through exam style essays for each unit plus a mock exam in the summer term.

Year 13 – English Language and Literature

During year 13, students further develop the skills covered during the previous year and continue to apply them to a wide range of texts and tasks. Year 13 also includes new units of study that focus on producing non-exam assessment work in the form of an independent investigation as well as studying two further texts. The non-exam assessment gives students the opportunity to study a literature text of their own choice and gives them the flexibility to choose or produce their own non-literary data. Students are also given the opportunity to develop their expertise and creativity in the use of English to communicate in different ways, as well as analysing how meanings are shaped in texts. In addition to the coursework, assessments are undertaken for all the exam content taught across the year through exam style essays for each unit plus a mock exam in the spring term.

Year 12 – English Literature

In year 12 students study three key elements of English Literature in preparation for their exams. They study a range of modern poems from Poems of the Decade, An Anthology of the Forward Books of Poetry, which they begin to compare with unseen poems as the year progresses; they study a modern play, from either a comic or tragic genre, and they study two prose texts, linked by a single theme. Assessments are carried out regularly for each unit, in addition to the mock exams which are designed to assess all three elements of the course. During year 12 the students also prepare for a non-examination assessment which is an extended comparison of two texts in the form of a 2500 – 3000 word essay. The students can devise a task on two set texts studied in class or can work more independently on texts of their own choice, and are given guidance on the most appropriate approach in regular tutorials.

Year 13 – English Literature

In year 13 English Literature students consolidate and extend the skills they learnt in year 12 by applying their skills to new texts. As in year 12, they study poetry and drama, engaging in a detailed study of an individual poet and studying a Shakespeare play. Their study of Shakespeare requires them to apply a range of critical opinions to the play they are studying, using an anthology of short essays provided by Edexcel. Assessments are carried out regularly for each unit, in addition to mock exams which test the full content of the course. Having spent time over the summer preparing their non-examination assessment, students draft and redraft their essay, as well as developing their verbal skills in regular tutorials. In the spring term, we revisit the texts from year 12 in a comprehensive revision programme in which the focus shifts from learning about the texts to perfecting essay writing skills in regular timed essays. 

Outside the Classroom

Opportunities for enrichment are at the heart of the department’s ethos, we organise a wide range of activities for students at all key stages. Activities include theatre trips, screenings of live theatre performances, writing workshops from visiting authors, entrance to national competitions such as Poetry By Heart plus regional ones, the Cumbria Young Writers Award. We also offer a wide range of clubs including; Classics Club, the lower school debating society and Readicts book group, to name a few. Our students are creative and enthusiastic and participate well in the range of activities on offer, often achieving commendable success. Last year we saw two of our sixth form students win first and second prize in the Cumbria Young Writers Award. They then participated in the Words by the Water festival where their work was presented by actors and they were presented their awards by Melvyn Bragg.