‘Oh the times they are a changin’

Getting ready for the new English GCSE specifications

It doesn’t feel like it was that long ago since a series of meetings about the now outgoing new specification. This means that yet again, in an effort to re-invent the wheel, we are having to think about how we can plan for the continued success of the students we teach.

The changes, which can be viewed in full here mean the end of coursework and controlled assessment, and a move toward closed book, terminal exams.

Having looked at the Assessment Objectives and what they will be asking my classes to do, I have started to put together an approach to how I will be teaching the New GCSE.

My thinking on this has changed quite a bit over the past year, having moved from comparing and contrasting the texts with the themes and ideas of Romanticism as the initial plan, moving towards a thematic breakdown of the course covering all texts simultaneously, to where I am now; A LTP that has discrete short units covering content in Year 10 followed by a range of projects in Year 11 that encourage recall of the texts and use of the A.O.s. I have kept the idea of thematic approaches to texts as it allows another way into the texts and will thematically tie Non-fiction texts to the Literature texts helping cover the skills for Language through Literature.

The Exams

The exams are as follows;

English Literature
2 exams – 4 texts and an unseen text – closed book

English Language
2 exams – all texts unseen

This means that without controlled assessments to trudge through, we must instead focus on making our curriculum design as good as possible to ensure students are able to remember key information for each of the texts for the exams.

The plan so far

LTP Thematic

The Texts

A 19th century text, a Shakespeare play, a modern novel or  play and a collection of poems are the required study for the English Literature exam. I am going to be studying A Christmas Carol, Romeo and Juliet, Animal Farm and the Conflict & Relationships cluster. This is for a number of reasons; I like the books; they are not too long and do not have too many characters; they have themes and ideas that resonate with young people; I like the books.

Bjork (2011) explains the importance of leaving time between instruction to make learning more memorable and as such I have chosen these texts as they can be taught in around six weeks. This means that I can teach the content required for the course quickly and then re-visit it in year 11 using content in different ways. (a lot of great twitter help on this from @learningspy and @jamestheo)

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