Skip to content ↓
Notre Dame High School

Notre Dame
High School

Years 10 - 11


All students study the new AQA GCSE qualifications in both English Language and English Literature (two separate GCSEs).

The study of English Language in Years 10 and 11 will develop a growing maturity of approach and sophistication of materials in the key areas of reading, writing and oral communication. Students will develop the skills they need to read, understand and analyse a wide range of different fiction and non-fiction texts covering the 19th, 20th and 21st century time periods. Students will also develop the ability to write clearly, coherently and accurately for a range of different audiences and purposes. There is also a continued emphasis on formal speaking and listening skills

Students will be largely grouped by ability and will participate in peer and group activities, completing regular peer and self-assessment activities.                  

At the end of Year 11 students will sit two exam papers for English Language, totalling 3 ½ hours of examination. Both exam papers will test reading and writing skills and students will be expected to respond to unseen texts.

Paper 1: Explorations in Creative Reading and Writing (50%)

·         Section A: Reading – Students respond to one unseen literature fiction text

·         Section B: Writing – Descriptive or narrative writing

Paper 2: Writer’s Viewpoints and Perspectives (50%)

·         Section A: Reading - Students respond to one unseen non-fiction text and one unseen literary non-fiction text

·         Section B: Writing - Writing to present a viewpoint

20% of the total marks will be awarded for spelling, punctuation and grammar.

Students will also complete a formal presentation which will be awarded in a separate endorsement.

Many employers require a grade 5 or above in GCSE English Language to prove that candidates have a sound level of competence in both speaking and literacy and it is often specified as a requirement for further education. A good pass in English Language demonstrates that the student has acquired a range of communication skills that would be essential in a wide variety of careers.


The study of English Literature in Years 10 and 11 is designed to build on students’ experience of the range of reading from lower school years. The course involves the study of novels, plays and poetry from a range of historical periods, all originating from the British Isles. Students are encouraged to develop their skills as perceptive and critical readers, and clear, focused writers. Texts are studied from a modern perspective and are also placed within their social and historical contexts.

Throughout the two-year course students will study:

·         A 19th Century Novel (‘A Christmas Carol’ by Charles Dickens or ‘Frankenstein by Mary Shelley)

·         A Collection of Poetry (AQA ‘Power and Conflict’ Anthology)

·         A Shakespeare Play (‘Romeo and Juliet’ or ‘Macbeth’)

·         20th Century Play or Prose from the British Isles (‘An Inspector Calls’ by JB Priestley, ‘Blood Brothers’ by Willy Russell, ‘Lord of the Flies’ by William Golding or ‘The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-time’ play-text by Simon Stephens)

Students will demonstrate their understanding of all of the texts studied, exploring themes, ideas and the writer’s craft (use of language, structure and literary devices).                  

At the end of Year 11, students will sit two exam papers for English Literature, totalling 4 hours of examination. Both examinations will be ‘closed book’ assessments meaning that students will not be able to take copies of texts into the exams with them.

Paper 1: Shakespeare and the 19th Century Novel (40%)

·         Section A: Shakespeare

·         Section B: 19th Century Novel

Paper 2: Modern Texts and Poetry (60%)

·         Section A: Modern Texts

·         Section B: Comparative Poetry

·         Section C: Unseen Poetry

5% of the total marks will be awarded for spelling, punctuation and grammar.

In addition to leading to further study in English Literature, this course is a valuable preparation for study in a range of subjects: Humanities, Foreign Languages and any essay based subject. Some further education courses may value or require a good pass in English Literature