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English

English website bannerGBHS Students Study English to… ​

  • Develop high levels of articulacy and intellectual curiosity. 

  • Develop a lifelong love of language that promotes and maintains positive mental health. 

  • Gain a deeper understanding of British Literature and other cultures. 

  • Develop empathy. 

  • Gain confidence in voicing opinions and practice vital skills in communication. 

  • Become well-rounded, well-read, articulate, young people. 

Transferable Skills

GBHS Students Study English to… 

  • Develop high levels of articulacy and intellectual curiosity. 

  • Develop a lifelong love of language that promotes and maintains positive mental health. 

  • Gain a deeper understanding of British Literature and other cultures. 

  • Develop empathy. 

  • Gain confidence in voicing opinions and practise vital skills in communication. 

  • Become well-rounded, well-read, articulate, young people. 

Key Stage 3

In Years 7 to 9, work in English is specifically designed to build upon the skills gained at primary school and further develop students into independent thinkers with a high level of articulacy, to fully prepare them for success.  

Students are exposed to a range of challenging texts from a variety of time periods, which have all been selected to prompt independent thought and interesting debate. Students are actively encouraged to read widely and often, both in school and in their spare time. There is a continuous focus on Spelling, Punctuation and Grammar (SPaG) throughout all units of work in English, as well as broadening vocabulary. 

Each year group studies a different Shakespeare play and practises using analytical skills and discussing the different themes. Students have an opportunity to enjoy a range of poetry and write their own. All students are immersed in a range of different fiction writing styles and genres and given exciting opportunities to use their own imaginations to craft their own writing. A range of non-fiction texts and media sources are analysed, and students also gain experience of writing in those distinctive styles.   

Key Stage 4

In Years 10 to 11, the AQA English Language and Literature GCSE courses are followed. These two years build upon the skills developed at KS3, further promoting independence, resilience and the ability to articulate a wide variety of ideas.  

A variety of prose, drama and poetry texts are studied, including a 19th century novel and a play by Shakespeare. Students develop key skills in reading, for example reading for both meaning and comprehension, analysing writers’ methods, exploring texts within context and comparison. They also develop writing skills, for example, imaginatively creating a variety of forms, manipulating sentence structures, using ambitious vocabulary and creating structural coherence. 

Both GCSEs are assessed at the end of year 11.  

For English Language, there are two examinations, equally weighted at 50%. There is also an additional spoken language endorsement. This is awarded separately as either a pass, merit or distinction.  

For English Literature, there are two examinations. The first is worth 40% of the final grade and the second 60%. 

Key Stage 5

In the Sixth Form, we offer both the AQA A Literature and the AQA Language specifications. 

There are two examinations at the end of these courses which make up 80% of the final grade. A coursework folder – the Non-Exam Assessment (NEA) – makes up the final 20%. 

Literature students: 

  • Study over 700 years of, mostly, British and American literature. There are two focuses of study: LOVE THROUGH THE AGES, covering social, family and romantic relationships and POST-WAR LITERATURE. 

  • Develop a deeper enjoyment of literary study through reading widely, critically and with sophistication. 

  • Develop a critical perspective and form opinions on texts. 

Language students: 

  • Explore language in context and how language is affected by a variety of aspects such as power, gender, occupation, accent and dialect. 

  • Explore the acquisition of language by children and how language changes over time. 

  • Develop vital skills in analysis, communication, argument and creativity. 

Social, Moral, Spiritual and Cultural Development

The English Department are proud to offer a range of Spiritual, Moral, Social and Cultural experiences through English lessons. Students express their creativity and understanding of other cultures through their study of literature and non-fiction texts, dealing with complex issues such as imperialism, relationships, prejudice, war, identity, social values, class and loyalty. Competitions are also offered to allow students to develop and showcase their skills, knowledge and experiences. 

Beyond the Classroom

The English department work closely with fantastic staff in the library, who help to arrange activities that continue to build passion and develop engagement in the subject. In recent years, our KS3/4/5 students have enjoyed visiting theatre companies, authors and poets, including Darren Shan, Gillian Cross and Adisa. In many cases, these visits have included specifically created workshops and competitions for small groups of students to engage in. 

Students in Key Stage 3 are also encouraged to participate in the Essex Book Awards each year by reading the nominated novels and posting their reviews online. Every year, at least one of the nominated authors is invited into school to run a workshop for our students and those from other local schools who have been invited to attend. 

One group of students in Key Stage 4 are encouraged to participate in the Jack Petchey Speak Out Challenge each year. All participants develop confidence in public speaking as well as building strong bonds with the rest of their class. One student then goes onto represent the school in the Regional Final of the competition, which is a very exciting event. 

Students at Key Stage 5 are invited to attend various theatre performances and lectures on key texts, as well as recently visiting Oxford University to consider degree level study of English.