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Igcse english language coursework examples

Apr 15, 2018

“The test of literature is, I suppose, whether we ourselves live more intensely for the reading of it.” (Elizabeth Drew)

Why study English? If Elizabeth’s Drew’s reason – her hope that the focus and purpose of life is sharpened through its study – is not enough, here is another:

“Books are the carriers of civilisation. Without books, history is silent, literature dumb, science crippled, thought and speculation at a standstill. They are engines of change, windows on the world, lighthouses erected in the sea of time.” (Barbara W. Tuchman)

And another, in the words of Cyril Connolly:

“While thought exists, words are alive and literature becomes an escape, not from, but into living.”

And another, from Salman Rushdie:

“Literature is where I go to explore the highest and lowest places in human society and in the human spirit, where I hope to find not absolute truth but the truth of the tale, of the imagination and of the heart.”

English – the study of the Language and the study of its Literature – is nothing less than the study of humanity. The heart of English lies in the world in which we live, the feelings that we share, and the challenge of communicating these feelings to our fellow man: to create, to teach, to empathise, to sympathise, to argue, to condemn, to defend, but more than anything, to learn.

The Ackworth School English Department Vision:

We want to inspire our students, and to inculcate in them a passion for English.

We want to inspire our students through active, enriching and memorable lesson experiences that lead to rich learning, a greater emotional awareness of ourselves and of others, enhanced independent and interdependent personal development, which all contribute to outstanding achievement that marks the very best of our abilities and efforts.

We want to inspire our students to take greater responsibility for themselves as learners. We want to help them become more self-reflective and self-aware, both of their strengths and weaknesses as learners, and to support them to become more resilient, efficient and intrinsically-motivated students who equally value their efforts and achievements as they do the efforts and achievements of others

We want to inspire our students by making the English Department an exciting, energetic, child-centred, positive space, in which our students love learning, working and being. Through diverse opportunities for enrichment, support, celebration and further learning, freely and willingly given, students come to know that they are valued; that they are supported, protected and safe to experiment and, indeed, fail; that there is no failure, only feedback; that their voice carries weight, is listened to respectfully and has the power to help shape the direction of the department. Our students know that their best interests are always at the forefront of what we do.

We want to inspire each other: we want to foster a sense of close collaboration among our students, developing their mutual reliance and trust through inter-dependent learning, peer-teaching and student support; we want to foster a sense of close collaboration  among ourselves as departmental colleagues, developing our own mutual reliance and trust by sharing best practice, by group-planning and teaching, by consistent and open communication, by providing caring support, peer-assessment and evaluation which are designed to inform and empower ourselves and our practice, and by respecting each other as individual  voices, as equal stakeholders within our department.


Approaching English in Years 1-3


In the 1 and 2 Form at Ackworth, our approach is absolutely rooted in the skills put forward in the National Curriculum: Reading, Writing and Speaking and Listening, underpinned by word- and sentence-level grammatical understanding. Our approach is designed to enable our students to appreciate the richness, excitement and marvels of English, exposing them to as wide and broad a variety of texts, forms, and skills as possible.

The attention to the development of foundational skills – such as a core understanding of key literary terms within poetry, attention to different text types and genres, an introduction to key figures in Literature such as Shakespeare, and developing their understanding of how the author shapes effect for the reader – is balanced by a need to embed enjoyment and enthusiasm into learning, and foster a sense of pleasure and fun within the richness of English – writing our own poetry, crafting exciting and tension-filled short stories, performing playtexts, developing our understanding of media and manipulating this form for our own needs. We are determined to take advantage of these precious years when students are not under external exam pressure.

In 3rd form, by necessity, the pedagogic approach becomes much more oriented towards the teaching of exam-skills: not so much making this an unofficial “third year” of a two-year IGCSE course, but rather as a foundational year to demystify the higher analytical and conceptual demands placed on the student in their IGCSEs. While retaining a spirit of adventure in terms of the texts we study (for example, the multimodal exploration of literatures of war), the students’ analytical approach is sharpened and shaped, and their understanding of structure and clarity of argumentative communication is honed. A much greater sense of self-reflection is encouraged: the question for students is not simply what they know but how they know, how best they learn. A more holistic and meta-cognitive approach develops the maturity of our learners as they approach the rigours of KS4.

IGCSE English

At Key Stage 4, Ackworth Students study the Cambridge IGCSE in English Language and Literature. The skills each student will learn are intrinsically the same: on the English Language course, the aims are to enable accurate communication; foster an appreciation of the variety of language; develop core real-world skills such as analysis, synthesis, summary, inference, debate and creativity; and promote students’ understanding of themselves and others. On the English Literature course, students will learn to read, interpret, analyse and evaluate authorial choices in form, structure and language, and sensitively link this authorial intention to audience to clarify effect and purpose; a greater understanding of depth and inference will be gained, leading to a richer appreciation of the complexities and sophisticated subtleties of the subject and, indeed, of themselves.

However, the real asset to the IGCSE – and its stand-out difference to competing syllabi – is the sheer variety of approach it offers in terms of its assessment, its teaching and its learning. The CIE IGCSE is a specification that puts student well-being and personalisation at its heart and thus chimes sensitively with the student-centric, pastoral values of the school. While the skills remain intrinsically the same for each student, how each student accesses and learns these skills is utterly open: the avenues of assessment combine and recombine modular examinations with coursework in varying proportions to allow the teachers to differentiate approach according to student need; similarly, a much more unrestrictive approach to textual choices also allows us to tailor the course to fit our students, rather than our students having to fit unwieldy uniformities. Throughout, students are encouraged to work independently, to lead group discussion and present individual presentations to, and for the benefit of, the class.

What can I expect of English Literature at A-Level?


You can expect to be inspired and develop your love of literature; you can expect to be challenged to both sharpen your analytical skills and to question your beliefs; you can expect to be prepared for the academic independence and rigour of University.


You can expect a greater degree of independently-led learning: with the sheer volume of some of the text studied, and the scant nature of time available to us (what with our timetable, internal exams, and coursework deadlines), it will be impossible to explore everything in these texts in class time. Real progress and understanding is dependent on your strong, positive, independent attitude, and on an awareness that what is covered in class is specifically designed to be an element of a whole, a springboard into further, deeper, richer thoughts and research. What it is not, and cannot be, is an end in itself.

Varied Learning and Teaching Styles

There is no spoon-feeding at English Literature A-Level; there is no passive information gathering. You will work independently and inter-dependently. You will become part of a community of learners, one of many, and as such, you will learn to work hard with and for each other; have high expectations of work and attitude; listen to and observe your peers carefully so that you can support and assist or push and extend when it is needed; and create an environment where you and your peers can be honest, where you can positively criticise, where you can work towards better ways of thinking, working and doing. The environment the department aims to foster and devise is the beginnings of an independent, interdependent, multimodal, collaborative approach to learning and teaching. We will be using seminar-based formats, single- and group-led peer presentations, analytical and creative essays, discussions, in time the online capacities and tools of a Virtual Learning Environment, debates and arguments, wider critical research, a synthesis of traditional and contemporary literature, all underpinned by passionate facilitation grounded in a variety of different theoretical approaches.

Extra-curricular English

Seeking out opportunities to develop English outside of class is as critical as it is sharpening it inside, and as such, we offer a wide variety of clubs, trips and focus groups to extend students, provide them with adequate support, and enrich them by exposing them to different aspects of the subject. Such examples include:

You can download one or more papers for a previous session. Please note that these papers may not reflect the content of the current syllabus.

Teachers registered with Cambridge can access our password-protected Teacher Support site, where a much wider selection of syllabus materials is available to download.

Courage is grace under pressure. Ernest Hemingway

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