English (Y7-13)

(GCSE exam board: AQA)

English Department Aims

English at Painsley Catholic College aims to enhance the 3 key skills of reading, writing and spoken language by teaching a range of text types, writing styles and providing opportunities to communicate orally.

In KS3, units of work have been selected to prepare students for the challenge of GCSE examinations. Students are monitored through a variety of strategies to ensure they are making the optimum progress. Part of this process is the regular assessment of the key skills involved in the study of English where the students will receive formative comments and the opportunity to improve their work.

At KS4, all students will have the opportunity to complete both GCSE English Language and GCSE English Literature. This will follow the specifications set out by AQA. Students will, throughout their GCSE studies, be set assessments in line with the exam requirements and, during Year 10 and Year 11, they will sit mock examinations in each of the 4 papers to ensure that exam resilience is developed.

At KS5, students can chose to further their English studies in either English Language and/or English Literature. Both courses follow the AQA specifications and continue to develop the skills from the GCSEs. Again, students’ progress will be carefully monitored and strategies put in place via tutorials, teaching and assessments to ensure excellent progress for every student.

Homework in English is designed to further enhance the 3 key skills or to embed grammatical concepts.

English Staff

Mrs J Hopkinson – Head of Department

Mr R Pierpoint – Second in Department and Literacy Co-ordinator

Mrs S Davies – Head of SEND

Mrs A M Comfort – SEND Support

Miss F Dutton

Miss G Fish

Mr J Hendley

Mrs R Juszkiewicz

Mrs S Moseley – Maternity Leave

Mr D Reed

Mr S Luby – Maternity Cover

Topics covered in Year 7:

  • Travel Writing
  • A play by William Shakespeare
  • The study of a novel
  • Conflict in Literature
  • Creative writing

Topics covered in Year 8:

  • Studying non-fiction texts
  • Poetry by William Shakespeare
  • The study of a 19th century text
  • The study of a contemporary play
  • Exploring creative reading and writing

Topics covered in Year 9:

  • Romantic Poetry
  • The study of a text from a different culture
  • Gothic Writing
  • The study of a GCSE Shakespearian text
  • Developing functional writing skills

Topic covered in Year 10:

  • The study of a 19th Century fictional text
  • Development of English Language examination skills: reading and writing.
  • The study of a modern fictional text

Topics covered in Year 11:

  • The study of a cluster of poetry for GCSE English Literature
  • The analysis of unseen poetry
  • Enhancing examination skills for English Literature
  • Enhancing examination skills for English Language

A Level English Literature:

  • Paper 1 – Love Through the Ages
    • Othello
    • The Great Gatsby
    • Comparison of unseen poetry.
  • Paper 2 – Modern Times: Literature from 1945- present day
    • A Streetcar Named Desire
    • Comparison of The Handmaid’s Tale and Feminine Gospels
    • Unseen Prose
  • Non-exam assessment- 2500 word comparison of two texts.

A Level English Language

  • Paper 1 – Language, the individual and society
    • Textual variations and representations
    • Children’s language development (0-11 years)
  • Paper 2 – Language diversity and change
    • Language diversity and change
    • Language discourses
    • Writing skills
  • Non-exam assessment – Language in Action
    • Language Investigation
    • Original Writing

Key Stage 3 and 4

To allow for consistency throughout a students’ time at Painsley Catholic College, they will be assessed against GCSE criteria from Year 7 onwards. This will allow progress to be closely monitored.

At the beginning of Year 7, each student will be given a target grade for them to reach by the end of the year. This is based on data received from their primary schools. In achieving that target, the student will be demonstrating that they are on track for achieving that grade at GCSE at the end of Year 11. The grade scale ranges from 1-9 with 1 being the lowest grade on the scale and 9 being the highest grade.

The target grade is unlikely to alter throughout their school life at Painsley Catholic College; however, the skills required to achieve their target grade will increase with difficulty each year. The table below demonstrates how each grade relates to the subsequent year and their predicted GCSE grade for English Language and Literature. For example, a student working at Grade 9 in Year 7 would be producing work equivalent to Grade 5 GCSE work in Year 11.

Year 7 Year 8 Year 9 Year 10 Year 11
  9 8
  9 8 7
  9 8 7 6
9 8 7 6 5
8 7 6 5 4
7 6 5 4 3
6 5 4 3 2
5 4 3 2 1
4 3 2 1
3 2 1
2 1

In addition to the regular fortnightly assessments and feedback that each student will receive on the quality of work that they are producing, every student will complete up to six unit final assessments in class. These will be tasks which the student has not previously seen (examination style) but will assess the skills built up during the unit and, indeed, their whole time at Painsley Catholic College.

Spoken language skills are very much part of our English curriculum and will form some of their assessments during the year. This is vital to ensure success at GCSE level and develop transferable skills beyond their college life.

Key Stage 5

Students in KS5 will have a target grade set at the beginning of Year 12 which will stay with them throughout their A Levels. All marking will be done against the criteria set by the examination board.

A range of clubs and activities are run by the English department to enrich students’ experiences at Painsley Catholic College. These include debating society, film club, creative writing club and reading club. A range of trips are also arranged including theatre experiences and literacy festivals.

In addition, intervention sessions are run for all Key Stages should a student need additional support in their studies.

The curriculum is designed to give your child the opportunity to experience a wide range of text types and prepare them for the rigours of the examinations ahead of them; however, this is only part of the picture. Reading beyond the curriculum is a vital aspect of the development of any child. There are many benefits of reading: improving literacy skills; developing individual ideas and perspectives on life; improving emotional intelligence and improving general knowledge and awareness.

Painsley Catholic College has a library stocked with a range of texts to suit any interests. It has sections covering a wide range of fictional genres, non-fiction texts around a range of interesting subjects, graphic novels, biographies and autobiographies. In addition to this, there is a section of core revision texts for the current GCSE specifications to ensure that students can revise independently within the school environment.

For a full list of the texts available see the library section on the website

Useful websites

BBC Bitesize – covers both KS3 and KS4 skills


Sparknotes – guides to key literature texts


Litcharts – a high level guide to key literature texts (suitable for KS4 and A Level)


English Grammar Guide – covers word types, punctuation and clauses.


English Games – a fun way to embed core skills


Mr Bruff – YouTube clips for GCSE and A Level (Language and Literature)