Changes to the English Curriculum

Pathway Options for KS4 English

The GCSEs in English have undergone a radical overall; there are now two GCSEs, one in English Literature and one in English Language. Historically there has been a third option of taking a single GCSE in English which combined aspects of Language and Literature. From this coming September, not only are there only two options for English, but tiered papers (higher and foundation) have been removed so that all candidates will take the same paper and score a numerical value from 1 to 9, with 9 being the equivalent of an A*.

There is a further significant difference to these new GCSEs and that is the removal of controlled assessment – what used to be known as coursework. Therefore, students taking both GCSEs can expect to sit a total of four examinations of around 2 hours each. Questions on the literature paper will require candidates to write about texts from memory.

Clearly then there are challenges facing students across the whole country. Here at Sunnydown, we have thought very carefully about the best way to enable our young men to succeed, both academically in terms of results, and to mitigate any unnecessary stress. Colleges and further education institutions have agreed that for the majority of students, it will be the GCSE in English Language that will be of most benefit.

With this in mind, the English Department are offering 2 pathways at KS4:  Pathway 1 will allow students to prepare for English Language GCSE. This pathway will also offer the opportunity to attain a certificate in Functional Skills English at Level 1 and 2: Level 2 is the equivalent of half a GCSE. The English Language course covers a wide range of texts, stories, literary non-fiction and narratives, and for the first time, invites students to produce their own creative writing pieces in response to a statement or a picture.

Pathway 2 will also provide the opportunity to achieve Functional Skills level 1 and 2 and will also provide the challenge of studying for both the English Language and the English Literature GCSEs. The plan for September is that candidates preparing for the English Literature course will need an in-depth knowledge of a pre-19th Century text (Dickens'  A Christmas Carol), A Shakespeare play (Macbeth), Poetry of War and Conflict, and a modern text (the play Blood Brothers).

The English department have taken on board all data available to us, along with our knowledge of a student’s resilience, application, and independence and memory skills in order to make an informed decision about the most appropriate pathway for each individual young man. Further details about the course requirements can be found at:-

aqa english-literature

aqa english language

If you wish to discuss any of the above information, please do not hesitate to contact me at

Mrs Jensen

Head of English and Whole School Literacy