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Newstead Wood School

Newstead Wood School

Year 9 English

Guidance for parents

What are students studying in English this year?

We keep the Year 9 curriculum as broad as we can to ensure that students get a wide ranging and challenging experience of texts from many genres and periods, as well as covering a broad range of reading, writing and speaking skills.

What are the major assessments this year?

As in Years 7 and 8, students will complete a ‘cross year’ assessment each half term, focusing on developing their reading and writing skills. In the Year 9 summer exam students will respond to an unseen piece of 19th century non-fiction, responding to focused analysis questions about it and then completing a writing task. The Year 9 exam will be closely modelled on the format of the new GCSE English Language exams.

What will the current performance grade be based on, and what do the levels mean?

The current performance grades are based on all the work she completes this year, including classwork and homework as well as the 'cross year' tests. Her spoken contributions to class work and discussion will also form part of the assessment. All students are given a document at the start of the year which describes our assessment objectives and how we assess – please ask your daughter to share this with you or email me a copy.

What should my daughter do if she feels she is struggling in the subject?

In the first instance, she should speak to her subject teacher. She should try to identify specific areas of the subject which she is finding a challenge so that we can offer targeted support.

How can I support my daughter in Year 9?

The best way to provide general support to Year 9 students is by talking to them about their work in the subject and how things are going.  If you can, read the texts they are studying yourself and talk about them. Don’t worry about having a ‘literary discussion’ – just talking about a text on any level will help the student to make connections and identify problems with the text. Do get your hands on films and audiobooks of the set texts and watch them together or listen at home or in the car. Encourage them to continue reading as widely as possible and, in particular, to read and discuss non-fiction texts – for example, in the news and features sections of quality newspapers – as well as reading enjoyable and good quality fiction. It is a good idea at this stage to ensure that your daughter has access to a good quality English dictionary and a Roget's thesaurus to help with vocabulary development.

What kind of independent work should my daughter be completing?

Students are given regular independent homework to complete and this should be recorded in your daughter's planner. To do well in English, she should be regularly practising and developing her reading and writing skills. Please encourage your daughter to keep a 'reading journal' where she records what she has read and reflects upon it, and encourage as much opportunity for writing eg keeping a diary or blog.

What about GCSE?

As you will know, GCSE is changing significantly next year and we are still finalising our plans for the format and structure of the course. We will be entering students for AQA English Language and English Literature GCSEs and the specifications can be read online at http://www.aqa.org.uk/subjects/english/gcse/. We will be designing a course which is challenging and varied, going well beyond the requirements of the exam board and focusing on developing students into confident independent readers and writers. We are excited by the opportunities these changes bring,.

Who can I contact for further advice and information?

Please feel free to contact the head of English, Mr Lewis, on jlewis@newsteadwood.bromley.sch.uk with as much detailed information as possible.