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Newstead Wood School

Newstead Wood School

Year 13 English

Guidance for parents

What is the English A2 course?

Students study the Edexcel English Literature GCE course (8ET01). This has two parts: Unit 3 (the exam unit) and Unit 4 (the coursework unit). All students have two teachers in Year 13 who divide the course between them.

For Unit 3 students study three texts in detail – The Great Gatsby, Rapture and Metaphysical Poetry - in preparation for a comparative essay, and prepare to write in detail on a piece of unseen poetry or prose. This unit is worth 60% of the A2.

For Unit 4 students study a central Shakespeare text and prepare a piece of independent coursework comparing it with two other texts of their choice. This unit is worth 40% of the A2.

What's the best way to do well in English Literature A2?

Students must remember that this course is not about content – getting an A is not about knowing the set texts really well but about what you do with them. These are the kinds of skills students need to develop to attain the highest grades:

  • precision of language – using language in a precise and analytical way, both in reading and writing.
  • awareness of complexity and ambiguity – understanding that a simple surface reading is not the last word, but that there are often many different ways to look at something.
  • making connections – between different texts and ideas.
  • understanding the impact of the choices writers make – in narrative voice, style, tone, structure, image...
  • understanding the role of the reader – I.e that different kinds of reader and readers at different times and in different contexts may read a text in different ways.

What kind of work should my son or daughter be doing at home?

Students will be given regular assignments to complete, including essays and pieces of shorter writing, as well as reading and research. Students should also be reading broadly beyond the syllabus in order to develop their criticism and interpretation skills and to prepare for the independent coursework task.

How can I support my son or daughter at home?

A very good way for parents to support English Literature students is to read the texts and talk to students about them – this can help students to formulate their ideas and interpretations and to consider different points of view. Failing that, please do find the time to talk about how English is going and what they are finding interesting or challenging about the subject. Please do encourage them to read as broadly as possible, including high quality novels, poetry and plays, and to maintain a diary or log of detailed reflections about what they have read.

What should I do if my son or daughter needs additional support?

Please ask them to speak to their teacher(s) in the first instance about any difficulties they are having, or to come and see Mr Lewis in his office. If necessary you can email Mr Lewis on jlewis@newsteadwood.bromley.sch.uk.

You may find these texts suitable Christmas presents for your son or daughter:

Robert Eaglestone, Doing English: A Guide for Literature Students (ISBN 0415284236)

Martin Montgomery, Ways of Reading (ISBN 0415677475)

David Lodge, The Art of Fiction (ISBN 0099554240)

John Mullan, How Novels Work (ISBN 0199281785)

James Wood, How Fiction Works (ISBN 1845950933)

John Peck & Martin Coyle, Literary Terms and Criticism (ISBN 0333962583)

Richard Gill, Mastering English Literature (ISBN 1403944881)

John Lennard, The Poetry Handbook (ISBN 0199265380)