GCSE English Language

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In recent years, children at Bede's have followed the CIE IGCSE English Language course, however from September 2017 we are switching our allegiance to the new AQA GCSE English Language qualification.

Whereas in the past half of each pupil’s final grade was decided by a portfolio comprising three pieces of independent coursework, now each child will take two exams at the end of the Upper Fifth and they alone will determine their overall mark.

These final exams are equally weighted, with one focussed on Fiction and Creative Writing and the other on Non-Fiction and Persuasive Writing. During the two years of the course, each pupil is also formally assessed on their Public Speaking, although the mark for this task does not contribute to their final grade. 

As the course is so open, focussing on skills rather than knowledge, we at Bede's have packed the two year programme full of exciting projects covering a vast range of tasks and projects and using reading materials from across literary history.

In the Lower Fifth, classes engage in a wide array of reading including short stories, poetry, novels and journalism, experimenting with varied forms and styles and taking part in a debating competition during the Spring Term.

In the Upper Fifth, pupils continue to prepare for their end of year examinations through experimentation, with at least one trip to the theatre taking place across the course of the year.

Teachers give their classes plenty of time and guidance to ensure that key skills are in place, but our focus is not on teaching to the test: instead, we want to embed a love of language in every girl and boy that will endure long after they finish the course.

Outstanding work is celebrated through publication - both on MyBedes and through our annual Small Island writing collection - with regular competitions, monthly Fifth Form Masterclasses and our twilight Writers' Workshops inviting Fifth Form pupils to stretch themselves well beyond the levels of proficiency required for success at GCSE level.

Matt Oliver
It is through reading and writing that we discover who we are, or who we want to be. In each piece of writing, I want my pupils to have the chance to reinvent themselves.

Matt Oliver, Head of English and Dicker House Tutor

Read Mr Oliver's blog

English News and Blogs

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Pupil Stories

  • Kai Maxted, Upper Fifth

    I remember hearing about Bede’s accomplishments when I wasn’t here. Now I'm part of that. It makes me really proud.

    Kai Maxted, Upper Fifth Interviewed in 2015
  • Alice Potter, Upper Fifth

    My best experiences have been here. That's because I feel like I have a real stake in Bede's. It's really helped me grow.

    Alice Potter, Upper Fifth Interviewed in 2014
  • Rowan Lewis, Upper Fifth

    I'm aiming to study English at University, but I keep getting distracted by things that make me feel passionate.

    Rowan Lewis, Upper Fifth Interviewed in 2012
More Pupil Stories

GCSE English Language staff

It is through reading and writing that we discover who we are, or who we want to be. In each piece of writing, I want my students to have the chance to reinvent themselves.

Matt Oliver, Head of English and Dicker House Tutor

One of the best things about being a teacher is that you don't just teach - you continue to learn at the same time.

David Cheshire, Deputy Head of Sixth Form, Teacher of English and Dicker House Tutor

There is truth in fiction. It is, ultimately, the mirror we hold up to ourselves and to society.

Paul Gibbs, Director of Higher Education, Teacher of English and Bloomsbury House Tutor

Working with students, and seeing them develop in confidence and self belief to achieve great things, is always impressive and immensely rewarding.

Clare Mander, Teacher of Learning Enhancement and English and Dorms House Tutor

I love teaching in general and English in particular, as I feel that education and the ability to use language truly empowers students.

Michelle Martin, Charleston Housemistress and Teacher of English and EAL

Working at Bede's is a dream job. I get to share my unquenchable passion for literature with a new generation of fertile minds in an inspirational, supportive environment - it is a joy and a privilege.

Justin Sealey, Camberlot Deputy Housemaster and Teacher of English

Bede's is a unique place full of unique people. I've been a teacher for all my career and there's nowhere quite like it.

Jane Savage, Teacher of English and Dicker House Tutor

Teaching is one of the great pleasures of my life. It simply doesn't get better than helping children to achieve things that they never thought possible.

Philip Trenaman, Teacher of English and Deis House Tutor

It is our language which defines us as humans. There can be no more important time within school than that spent studying the language we are constantly using.

John Tuson, Academic Deputy Head, Teacher of English and Deis House Tutor

I am deeply passionate about the kind of education available to children at Bede's. It is extremely rare for a school to offer so much to its pupils.

Martin Vaux, Teacher of English and Knights House Tutor