KS4 English

English GCSE

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Our English GCSE teaching is split into English Language and English Literature. It is critical to understand that both GCSEs, although related in terms of skills needed, are fundamentally different in terms of how a child should approach them.

The 2014 KS4 English National Curriculum states the following aims:

For English Language GCSE: students should be able to:

  • read a wide range of texts, fluently and with good understanding  read critically, and use that 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.

For English Literature GCSE: students should be able to:

  • read a wide range of classic literature fluently and with good understanding, and make connections across their reading  

  • read in-depth critically and evaluate, 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.

The texts for GCSE English Literature must include the following:

  • at least one play by Shakespeare  

  • at least one 19th century novel   

  • a selection of poetry since 1789, including representative Romantic poetry  (it should comprise no fewer than 15 poems by at least five different poets, and a minimum of 300 lines of poetry.)

  • fiction or drama from the British Isles from 1914 onwards.

100% of the marks are from the GCSE exam.

In the following breakdown, we have included the main boards to simplify the process.

English Language – Main Exam Board Breakdown
Paper 1 AQA (105 mins) Edexcel (105 mins) OCR (120 mins)
Section A – Reading Fiction 40 marks 24 marks 40 marks
Section B – Imaginative Writing 40 marks 40 marks 40 marks
Paper 2 AQA (105 mins) Edexcel (105 mins) OCR (120 mins)
Section A – Reading Non-Fiction 40 marks 24 marks 40 marks
Section B – Transactional Writing 40 marks 40 marks 40 marks

English Language is split into two papers:

Language Paper 1 – fiction creative writing and fiction analysis of an unseen fiction text. Language Paper 2 – two unseen non-fiction texts.

Both papers also include creative writing sections: one fiction piece and one non-fiction piece. It is critical for students to feel prepared for the exams and get used to the structure of the exams.

For a full breakdown of these, please see below.

While the structure and weighting of each exam vary slightly by each exam board, the skills required for analysis of a text are, however, fairly consistent from paper to paper. Therefore building this skill set is crucial to improving a student’s prospects of a higher grade.
Sharpening skills with unseen texts improve students’ general skills of analysis and tends to lead to greater success in both the English Language and Literature papers.
Encouraging the use of various language and structural techniques is also crucial to increasing the probability of success in the exams.

English Literature

English Literature is split into two papers. The breakdown is a follows:

AQA

Section A

Section B

Section C

Paper 1

(105 mins)

Shakespeare 

(34 marks):

 

Macbeth

Romeo and Juliet

The Tempest

The Merchant of Venice

Much Ado About Nothing

Julius Caesar

The 19th Century Novel 

(30 marks):

The Strange Case of Dr Jekyll and Mr Hyde – Robert Louis Stevenson

A Christmas Carol – Charles Dickens

Great Expectations – Charles Dickens

Jane Eyre – Charlotte Bronte

Frankenstein – Mary Shelley

Pride and Prejudice – Jane Austen

The Sign of Four – Sir Arthur Conan Doyle

N/A

Paper 2

(135 mins)

Modern Novel or Play 

(34 marks):

An Inspector Calls – J.B. Priestley

Blood Brothers – Willy Russell

The History Boys – Alan Bennett

A Taste of Honey – Shelagh Delaney

The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-time – Simon Stephens

DNA – Dennis Kelly 

Lord Of The Flies – William Golding

Animal Farm – George Orwell

Never Let Me Go – Kazuo Ishiguro

Anita and Me – Meera Syal

Pigeon English – Stephen Kelman

Telling Tales: AQA Anthology

Poetry (30 marks):

Power and Conflict:

 
Percy Bysshe Shelley – Ozymandias William Blake – London 

William Wordsworth – Extract from, The Prelude 

Robert Browning – My Last Duchess Alfred Lord Tennyson – The Charge of the Light Brigade 

Wilfred Owen – Exposure 

Seamus Heaney – Storm on the Island Ted Hughes – Bayonet Charge 

Simon Armitage – Remains 

Jane Weir – Poppies

Carol Ann Duffy – War Photographer Imtiaz Dharker – Tissue 

Carol Rumens – The Émigree 

John Agard – Checking Out Me History Beatrice Garland – Kamikaze 

 
Love and Relationships:

 
Lord Byron – When We Two Parted Percy Bysshe Shelley – Love’s Philosophy 

Robert Browning – Porphyria’s Lover Elizabeth Barrett Browning – Sonnet 29 – ‘I think of thee!’ 

Thomas Hardy – Neutral Tones 

Maura Dooley – Letters From Yorkshire Charlotte Mew – The Farmer’s Bride Cecil Day Lewis – Walking Away Charles Causley – Eden Rock 

Seamus Heaney – Follower 

Simon Armitage – Mother, any distance Carol Ann Duffy – Before You Were Mine 

Owen Sheers – Winter Swans 

Daljit Nagra – Singh Song! 

Andrew Waterhouse – Climbing My Grandfather

Unseen Poetry 

(32 marks)

Edexcel

Section A

Section B

Section C

Paper 1

(105 mins)

Shakespeare 

(40 marks):

Macbeth

Romeo and Juliet

The Tempest

The Merchant of Venice

Much Ado About Nothing

Twelfth Night

Modern Novel or Play 

(40 marks):

An Inspector Calls – J.B. Priestley

Blood Brothers – Willy Russell

Hobson’s Choice –  Harold Brighouse

Journey’s End – Journey’s End – R. C. Sherriff

Lord Of The Flies – William Golding

Animal Farm – George Orwell

Never Let Me Go – Kazuo Ishiguro

Anita and Me – Meera Syal

The Woman in Black – Susan Hill

N/A

Paper 2

(135 mins)

The 19th Century Novel 

(40 marks):

The Strange Case of Dr Jekyll and Mr Hyde – Robert Louis Stevenson

A Christmas Carol – Charles Dickens

Great Expectations – Charles Dickens

Jane Eyre – Charlotte Bronte

Frankenstein – Mary Shelley

Pride and Prejudice – Jane Austen

Silas Marner – George Eliot

Poetry (20 marks):

Conflict:

 
A Poison Tree – William Blake

The Destruction of Sennacherib – Lord Byron

Extract from The Prelude – William Wordsworth

The Man He Killed – Thomas Hardy

Cousin Kate – Christina Rossetti

Half-caste – John Agard

Exposure – Wilfred Owen

The Charge of the Light Brigade – Alfred, Lord Tennyson

Catrin – Gillian Clarke

War Photographer – Carole Satyamurti

Belfast Confetti – Ciaran Carson

The Class Game – Mary Casey

Poppies – Jane Weir

No Problem – Benjamin Zephaniah

What Were They Like? – Denise Levertov

Belfast Confetti – Ciaran Carson (1990)

 
Relationships:

 
John Keats – “La Belle Dame Sans Merci: A Ballad” 

Joanna Baillie – “A Child to his Sick Grandfather” 

George Gordon, Lord Byron – “She Walks in Beauty” 

William Wordsworth – “A Complaint”

Thomas Hardy – “Neutral Tones” 

Robert Browning – “My Last Duchess” Elizabeth Barrett Browning – “Sonnets from the Portuguese 43:  How do I love thee? Let me count the ways.” 

Wendy Cope – “1st Date – She & 1st Date – He” 

Carol Ann Duffy – “Valentine” 

Elizabeth Jennings – “One Flesh” 

John Cooper Clarke – “i wanna be yours” 

Jen Hatfield – “Love’s Dog”

Vernon Scannell – “Nettles” 

Simon Armitage – “The Manhunt (Laura’s Poem)”

Ingrid de Kok – My Father Would Not Show Us

 
Time and Place:

 
John Keats – To Autumn  

William Wordsworth – Composed upon Westminster Bridge, September 3, 1802 

William Blake – London 

Emily Dickinson – I started Early – Took my Dog 

Thomas Hardy – Where the Picnic was 

Edward Thomas – Adlestrop 

Robert Browning – Home Thoughts from Abroad 

U.A. Fanthorpe – First Flight 

Fleur Adcock – Stewart Island 

Moniza Alvi – Presents from my Aunts in Pakistan 

Grace Nichols – Hurricane Hits England 

Tatamkhulu Afrika – Nothing’s Changed 

Sophie Hannah – Postcard from a Travel Snob 

John Davidson – In Romney Marsh 

Elizabeth Jennings – Absence

Unseen Poetry 

(20 marks)

 

OCR

Section A

Section B

Section C

Paper 1

(120 mins)

Modern Novel or Play 

(40 marks):

Anita and Me – Meera Syal

Never Let Me Go – Kazuo Ishiguro

Animal Farm – George Orwell 

An Inspector Calls – J.B. Priestley

My Mother Said I Never Should – Charlotte Keatley

DNA – Dennis Kelly

The 19th Century Novel 

(40 marks):

The Strange Case of Dr Jekyll and Mr Hyde – Robert Louis Stevenson

A Christmas Carol – Charles Dickens

Great Expectations – Charles Dickens

Jane Eyre – Charlotte Bronte

Frankenstein – Mary Shelley

Pride and Prejudice – Jane Austen

War of the Worlds – H.G. Wells

N/A

Paper 2

(120 mins)

Poetry (40 marks):

OCR Combines Unseen poetry with Anthology Poems

 
Conflict:

 
A Poison Tree – William Blake

Envy – Mary Lamb

Boat Stealing (from 1799 Prelude) – William Wordsworth 

The Destruction of Sennacherib – Lord Byron There’s a Certain Slant of Light – Emily Dickinson 

The Man He Killed – Thomas Hardy 

Anthem for Doomed Youth – Wilfred Owen Vergissmeinnicht – Keith Douglas

What Were They Like? – Denise Levertov Lament – Gillian Clarke

Punishment – Seamus Heaney 

Flag – John Agard 

Phrase Book – Jo Shapcott

Honour Killing – Imtiaz Dharker 

Partition – Sujata Bhatt

 
Love and Relationships:

 
A Song Helen – Maria Williams

Bright Star – John Keats 

Now – Robert Browning 

Love and Friendship – Emily Brontë 

A Broken Appointment – Thomas Hardy 

Fin de Fête – Charlotte Mew 

The Sorrow of True Love – Edward Thomas An Arundel Tomb – Philip Larkin

Love After Love – Derek Walcott

Morning Song – Sylvia Plath 

Long Distance II – Tony Harrison 

I Wouldn’t Thank You for a Valentine – Liz Lochhead 

In Paris With You – James Fenton 

Warming Her Pearls – Carol Ann Duffy 

Dusting the Phone- Jackie Kay

 
Youth and Age:

 
Holy Thursday – William Blake 

When I have fears that I may cease to be – John Keats

The Bluebell – Anne Brontë

Midnight on the Great Western – Thomas Hardy 

Spring and Fall: to a Young Child – Gerard Manley Hopkins 

Ode – Arthur O’Shaughnessy 

Out, Out – Robert Frost

Red Roses – Anne Sexton

Baby Song – Thom Gunn 

You’re – Sylvia Plath 

Cold Knap Lake – Gillian Clarke 

My First Weeks – Sharon Olds 41 Venus’s-flytraps – Yusef Komunyakaa 

Love – Kate Clanchy 

Farther – Owen Sheers

Shakespeare 

(40 marks):

Macbeth

Romeo and Juliet

The Merchant of Venice

Much Ado About Nothing

N/A

Please note: We occasionally have other students who take Edexcel iGCSE which has a structure that tends to vary substantially from AQA, EDEXCEL and OCR. Whilst we have not listed that structure on here, we do work with children with the iGCSE curriculum.

How we can help

At Redbridge Tuition, our aim is to propel every student forward. This is done by making sure they understand the key concepts in their GCSE text and spending time discussing the concepts and how they do or do not link.
Later in the exam cycle, once students have covered their texts in school, we will start practising exam questions in order to build their confidence and iron out any issues in exam technique.

In order to achieve a high grade, it is the students’ responsibility to go through the texts and understand the plot and the characters in detail. Doing this in tuition sessions will needlessly waste time that should be dedicated to the much harder skill of practising actual analysis of text and structure.

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