The King's School in Macclesfield



      About the Department 

      There are nine specialist teachers in the English department, all of whom are experienced and passionate about their subject. Several members of the department are GCSE and A Level examiners, giving our teachers and students valuable insights into the assessment process. Students benefit considerably from their expertise in this area.

      Many students go onto study English or English-related degree courses at Russell Group Universities including Oxford and Cambridge, and we have a strong record of success in helping them achieve excellent places. Many prospective Law students find English a complementary A Level subject choice.

      Examination Results

      Our GCSE and A Level results are outstanding; students perform consistently above the national average.

      2019 GCSE English Literature:

      51% of all grades were awarded at 9 - 7 (equivalent to A*/A); the national average is 20%

      2019 GCSE English Language:

      43% of all grades were awarded at 9 - 7 (equivalent to A*/A); the national average is 14%

      2019 A Levels:

      English Literature: 50% achieved A*/A (national average is 24%) 

      English Language: 64% achieved A* - B (national average is 42%)

      Subject Content & Syllabus

      Key Stage 3

      Students build skills in reading, comprehension, writing, analysis, speaking and listening through the study of challenging texts via a curriculum designed to provide variety and flexibility, whilst preparing children for the demanding GCSE years. Teachers combine the study of established works from the literary canon with high quality modern literature, thus providing students with the breadth and depth they need to gain an appreciation of language and literature. Wide and regular reading is actively encouraged and King’s uses its well-stocked Resource Centres to administer our popular reading programme.

      Key Stage 4 (GCSE)

      Students study for two separate GCSEs in English Language and English Literature. We follow the Edexcel IGCSE specification for both of these. The courses are linear and both contain coursework components that comprise 40% of the final grade. The Language qualification demands close study of an anthology of poetry and prose so there is a prepared element to the final examinations. In line with the school's ethos of providing appropriate challenge to our students, and in keeping with the educational philosophy of the members of the English Department, compulsory study of a Shakespeare play is required for the Literature course. 

      A Level English Language

      AQA English Language explores the language that surrounds us. From a conversation between friends, to a politician’s election speech, students explore how form, structure and vocabulary shape meaning. The course studies the variation of language according to context and changes in language over time, as well as exploring contemporary linguistic variation and change in the British Isles. Students will also explore how children learn language and how they are able to understand and express themselves through language.

      The coursework element introduces students to independent, investigative language study. It enables them to pursue areas of individual interest and to explore methodological issues concerning data collection and analysis. It allows students to develop a creative and critical approach to their studies and places language in its wider geographical, social and temporal contexts.

      A Level English Literature

      The English Literature course (AQA ‘B’ specification) involves the study of significant texts from different genres. We examine how texts connect and inter-relate, and how they can illuminate each other. Students may study one of two literary genres: Tragedy or Comedy. In addition, students read and explore texts which contain elements of more modern cultural genres. There are two study options here: Elements of Crime Writing or Elements of Political and Social Protest Writing.

      The coursework element introduces students to aspects of Critical Theory, including Narrative Theory, Feminist criticism, Marxist criticism, Post-colonial criticism and Eco-criticism. One response will be a conventional essay, the other could be a re-creative task or a further conventional essay.

      Monitoring & Assessment

      At Key Stages 3 and 4, an assessed task will be completed every fortnight, designed to provide staff and students with regular feedback and progress indicators. On top of this, students are formally assessed every half-term, the scores being added to end-of-year examinations to build up a full picture of attainment. They are then awarded grades for effort and attainment. Staff monitor these grades stringently and prompt intervention is taken if necessary. Students may also be awarded a ‘Student of the Week’ award or a ‘Departmental Commendation’ to recognise exceptional effort or performance.

      End of year examinations are taken at the end of Years 7, 8, 9 and 10. Public examinations (GCSE and A Level) are taken in Years 11 and 13.

      Enrichment Opportunities

      The English Department runs a variety of extra-curricular and enrichment opportunities for students to extend their learning and interests beyond the classroom.

      • A wide programme of lunchtime and after-school clubs including Debating Society, BBC School Report, Blog Club and Book Clubs. Students in Poetry by Heart Club have the opportunity to enter the national competition and students are offered many opportunities to enter national creative writing competitions.
      • Enrichment reading initiatives such as the Carnegie Shadowing and Cheshire Schools’ Book Quiz.
      • A Departmental Magazine, published in a joint initiative with students and staff who make up the contributors and editorial team.
      • Talks and workshops from visiting authors, poets and academics.
      • Trips to the theatre. Last year, students attended performances of ‘The Tempest’ and ‘Macbeth’ in preparation for the GCSE examinations, amongst others.
      • Enrichment trips to writing workshops at the John Rylands Library at the University of Manchester.
      • Extra support and tuition for those making competitive applications to universities, whether abroad or at Oxbridge.


      Many of our students go on to study English or English-related degrees at prestigious universities, including Oxbridge. Students wanting to pursue careers in journalism, law, teaching and the civil service often find the subject complements their other studies.

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