English Literature as a subject offers students a chance to understand and make sense of the world whilst allowing students to consider multiple viewpoints. GCSE English Literature studies will see students come to appreciate words and the power they can hold for years after they have been written.
English Literature at The Hayfield School is underpinned by four main aims:
Studying English Literature abandons the constraints of time. It is the aim of the English department to take students both to new worlds – past and present – where they can make new discoveries, meet new types of people, recognise and learn about new topics, new histories and, best of all, to a place they may be more familiar with.
Every English Literature lesson will be underpinned by at least one big question that will be used to promote the ways in which students read, think about and approach a literature text. Students will be encouraged to become self-aware and independent learners by engaging with the big questions whilst reading each of the literature texts.
Our English Literature learning journey will ensure the delivery of a rich and diverse curriculum that is representative of fundamental British values of democracy, rule of law, individual liberty and mutual respect, and tolerance of those with different faiths and beliefs.
It is the overall aim of the English department to ensure every student reaches, achieves and strives to exceed their academic potential whilst at the same time every student is able to shape and develop their own unique character ready for the transition to leaving school.
Studying GCSE English Literature nurtures a passion for reading and writing while laying a solid foundation for further study and the workplace. Studying English Literature develops a skillset that can be transferred to most other subjects and is key to shaping and developing the ability to read and select information; demonstrate an understanding through inference and analysis; evaluate and present a point of view. The learning of the skills mentioned here is completed whilst reading and exploring a variety of set Literature texts. Alongside, students will consider closely how context shapes the writing and understanding of the set text. Authorial background and opinion, historical events, social factors, political movements, economic states and cultural influences are some of the main contextual features that are considered closely throughout reading. It is vital that students appreciate the contextual factors as the set texts chosen for study range from the 17th century to the 21st century as students study a Shakespearean play, a 19th century novel, a 20th century drama, poetry from the 18th, 19th, 20th and 21st century.
The set texts that students will study at The Hayfield School include:
‘Macbeth’ written by William Shakespeare
‘A Christmas Carol’ written by Charles Dickens.
‘An Inspector Calls’ written by J.B. Priestley
A selection of 15 poems that are a part of the AQA Power and Conflict cluster
Students will be assessed through 100% closed book exams at the end of Year 11.
There will be two closed book exams.
English Literature Paper 1 will last 1 hour 45 minutes and will assess Shakespeare and 19th Century Novel.
English Literature Paper 2 will last 2 hour 15 minutes and will assess modern text and drama text; Power and Conflict and Unseen Poetry.
In completing a qualification in English Literature students will develop the following skills:
Literal and Inferential comprehension skills. This means that students will understanding a word, phrase or sentence as it was written; explore aspects of plot, character, theme and setting; distinguishing between what a writer states explicitly and what a writer implied; explaining motivation, sequence of events, and the relationship between actions or events across set texts.
Critical reading skills. This means that students will work to read a text and begin to form their own point of view whilst reading. This point of view will form a personal response in the style of an essay. Students will support this point of view by referring to evidence throughout the text. Students will also begin to recognise the idea that to each individual, a text will sometimes mean something different and so within their point of view students will begin to appreciate this by explaining alternate or additional points of view. Students will use context to inform their point of view.
Evaluation of a writer’s choice of language and structural features. This means that students will identify language, structure and form used within a text using subject specific tier 3 vocabulary. Students will then work to explore why and how the writer’s choice of specific language, structure and form is used to create impact. This will help students when writing their personal response to the set text.
Comparing texts. This means that students will begin to compare and contrast the texts studied, referring where relevant to theme, character, context (where known), style, language and structure.
Writing skills. Students will work to produce a clear and coherent point of view in their writing about a set text. When writing a point of view in the style of an essay students will be able to include a range of different writing purposes: summarise, argue, analyse and evaluate. All these writing purposes will see students becoming skilled communicators.
Accurate spelling, punctuation and grammar. Students will work to enhance their spelling, punctuation and grammar throughout their literature studies.
School will provide students with a copy of the AQA Power and Conflict Anthology. This will be really useful in collecting annotations and making notes on each of the 15 set poems.
Students may wish to purchase a copy of WIlliam Shakespeare’s ‘Macbeth’; Charles Dickens’s ‘A Christmas Carol’ and/or J.B. Priestley’s ‘An Inspector Calls. These texts are available on ParentPay from the start of the GCSE English Literature course.
Each of the set Literature develops every students’ sense of character and culture. The beauty of English Literature is that to each student, each set text may or will mean something different and so this sees a real emphasis placed upon developing understanding and empathy.
Please read below for an overview that begins to explain how each set text develops a sense of character and culture:
‘Macbeth’ written by William Shakespeare
The play offers students more than ‘a story’ as the play captures the working and unravelling of the mind. Shakespeare’s ‘Macbeth’ offers an insight into mental health and wellbeing before mental health and wellbeing was even considered to be a concept. It is clear that through the study of ‘Macbeth’, a person’s mental health and wellbeing needs to be looked after with even the strongest of characters – Lady Macbeth – experiencing a downfall. With 2019 and 2020 seeing a surge in the discussions around mental health, mental wellbeing and suicide becoming more and more openly discussed, the study of ‘Macbeth’ is as much relevant today as it was in the 17th century. Students may also explore relationships – friendships, relationships within a hierarchical structure and lovers – and consider how concepts such as ambition, power, betrayal, guilt influence, shape and change these relationships. The study of the play is about shaping the student’s character and allowing them to consider their own perspective and position with regards to the subject matter.
‘A Christmas Carol’ written by Charles Dickens
The novella offers students the chance to promote their ability to empathise and reflect upon their own self and identity. ‘A Christmas Carol’ is a text that heavily focuses upon the need for empathy and compassion in order for society and the self to be truly experienced. ‘A Christmas Carol’ is a text that considers the divide between the rich and poor and the focuses upon the plight and struggles of the poor. Building upon this, however, is the treatment the poor face and the neglect and lack of empathy and compassion. It is here that students are able to form their own opinions in a safe environment and discuss their beliefs.
Where AIC is fundamentally a political piece, ACC can be seen to steer away from politics being at the heart of the text and focus upon the core of politics, that is people and their morality. It is with this that students can begin to recognise the part they play and will go on to play in society.
‘An Inspector Calls’ written by J.B. Priestley
The play ‘An Inspector Call’s considers all strands of the C+C wheel. Diversity is considered through social class and through gender. Wellbeing is considered through the ways in which actions can impact upon another person’s emotional, physical and social wellbeing. Values are considered with regards to how we treat other people and how responsible we feel for one another. Lastly, aspirations are considered with regards to how a person and influence the aspirations of another person due to social position/ class/ opportunity. All of the above link together and combine to enable discussions about the make up of society.
The Power and Conflict Anthology
The 15 poems in the cluster encompass ideas about power and conflict from different historical periods and also from different places around the world which naturally allows students to explore a unique and diverse set of interpretations as to what power is, what exercising power looks like in a range of settings, the effects of power so that students can establish their own understanding. Students will also consider war and how war impacts people directly and indirectly from those living in or fleeing a war zone to those whose loved ones leave to fight in war. Students will encounter all aspects of the C+C wheel: from diversity in poems such as ‘Checking out mi History’ and ‘Kamikaze’ to values in the poems ‘My Last Duchess’ and ‘The Emigree’.
Studying English Literature can lead to varied careers such as teaching, law and business, as well as professional writing roles such as a Digital Copywriter, Editorial Assistant or Journalist.
Your teacher will be happy to share knowledge of linked professions with you.