As a compulsory subject, the English Department at Castle High School and Visual Arts College is central to our school and to ensuring all students achieve and make outstanding progress, whatever their starting point. We strive for our teaching to be creative, innovative, supportive and challenging. We encourage the use of a diverse range of teaching and learning styles in order to achieve the aims within the department for students to enjoy the process of learning; to engage actively in reading, writing, speaking and listening and, above all, to become active, effective independent learners, not only in school, but for life.
During the course of their Castle High School career, students are offered as many external opportunities as possible such as national poetry competitions, the national Young Writers contest, theatre visits and notably a recent Guinness World Record. We also offer exciting Gold Standard Revision days at KS4 in unusual, stimulating locations like The Black Country Museum. Our developing links with Dudley College will also provide wider opportunities for innovative approaches to studying English.
Years 7-9 Curriculum
During Years 7 to 9, we aim to provide our students with as broad a range of experiences within English as we can, while giving the best grounding possible in the skills needed for GCSE and beyond. Students are set across the whole year group shortly after arrival in Year 7, based upon Key Stage 2 data and initial teacher assessments. Students' progress is continually monitored and setting is reviewed regularly throughout Years 7 and 8 and 9. This ensures smaller classes for those pupils requiring intervention and additional support as necessary.
Students in Year 7, 8 and 9 participate in a wide range of units which cover all aspects of English, from classic prose, poetry and drama to more modern non-fiction, multimedia and internet-based texts. All of these are designed to challenge students and stimulate learning whilst preparing them thoroughly for GCSE.
All students will study GCSE English Language and English Literature, which will result in two separate qualifications.
From first teaching in 2015, and first assessment in 2017, GCSE English Language and Literature have undergone huge changes nationally. Controlled assessment have been discontinued, and the GCSE grading system has changed completely. Students are now awarded a numbered grade between 1 and 9, with 9 representing the very highest level of achievement. After a comprehensive review of potential syllabuses, Castle High students follow the AQA syllabus.
GCSE Assessment (new specification, first assessment in 2017):
The new GCSEs in English Language and Literature are assessed entirely by external examination.
There are two separate assessment foci: Reading and Writing. Students are expected to read and explore a Shakespeare play, a range of poems, novels, modern literature, analysis of spoken language and creative writing in numerous forms. They will also be prepared to respond to unseen texts from the 19th, 20th and 21st Century.
Students will complete two separate exams: English Language and English Literature. At the end of the programme of study, students will be awarded two separate GCSEs in English (English Language and English Literature), carrying the new grading of 1 to 9.
Speaking and Listening
Speaking and Listening will still be assessed at GCSE, but this element does not now contribute to the overall grade. Instead, the student's assessed level in this skill is reported separately on their GCSE certificate. Students will complete three separate tasks in order to achieve this award. An individual presentation is assessed, along with opportunities for group discussion and group presentation.